Saints see off brave Rovers to maintain unbeaten start

Saints fought off a resilient Hull KR side to win their fourth game in a row on the back of the restart following a 32-12 victory at the Halliwell Jones Stadium on Sunday afternoon.

Coming into this one, Saints were without Tommy Makinson through suspension and Mark Percival through injury whilst Morgan Knowles was also out after feeling under the weather during the week.

And a bruising encounter on the field saw Saints Theo Fages limp off early in the first half with a knee injury, as well as former Saint Adam Quinlan who has reportedly broken a wrist.

It was Saints who came out of the traps quickest scoring after just five minutes through in form man Alex Walmsley. Having trapped former Saint Quinlan in goal, Saints got a fresh set of six on the Hull KR line, and the powerhouse drove through to score to the right of the sticks. Lachlan Coote kicked the conversion, giving the men in blue an early 6-0 lead.

After a few near misses, Saints doubled their lead in the 15th minute. Captain James Roby picked up on a dropped ball and found Jonny Lomax, who threw a huge cut-out pass out right over three players to find stand-in winger Jack Welsby to score in the corner. Coote added the extras to give Saints a 12-0 lead.

Hull KR got one back in the 24 minute, working the ball out right, and Quinlan dummied before stretching between the defence to touch down in the corner. Jamie Ellis converted to leave the score 12-6.

Rovers were on the up and came straight back at Saints, scoring in the 26th minute. Ellis’ looping ball to the far corner caused trouble for Regan Grace, who was making his 100th Saints appearance, but he couldn’t hold it and Ethan Ryan reacted first to dive on the ball to score. Ellis was unable to convert, meaning Saints still led.

Rovers pulled the score back to level on the hooter through an Ellis penalty, leaving it 12-12 at the break.

Saints started the second as we did the first and retook the lead in the 48th minute through Kevin Naiqama, his first try since Round One against Salford Red Devils. Quick play down the right found Coote who offloaded with great speed to find Naiqama who bolted through a gap in the defence to score. Coote scored the conversion, leaving the score 18-12.

Aaron Smith added a fourth in the 59th minute from dummy half after some lovely quick feet saw the hooker dance in between two tackles and dive over the line to the left off the sticks. Coote converted, giving Saints a 24-12 lead.

Three minutes later Welsby got his second of the match. Saints pushed down the right and James Roby, filling in for Fages in the halves, threw the ball out wide where Welsby held his run well before driving in to the corner to score. Coote maintained his 100% kicking record to give Saints a 30-12 lead.

Matt Parcell mirrored Smith’s try at the other end, squeezing over from dummy half to get Rovers over for a second half try. Ellis converted, leaving the score 30-12 after 71 minutes.

Rovers were penalised for a high tackle on Matty Lees, and Coote added two points with a penalty to give Saints a 32-12 lead with seven minutes to go.

Naiqama thought he’d score a second with a minute to go, but Lomax’ pass went forwards, and that was the last action of a gripping encounter, as Saints came away with a hard fought 32-18 victory.

Match Summary

Hull KR 13: Adam Quinlan, Ethan Ryan, Shaun Kenny-Dowall, Kane Linnett, Greg Minikin, Ryan Brierley, Jamie Ellis, Nathaniel Peteru, Matt Parcell, George Lawler, Matty Gee, Matthew Storton, Weller Hauraki.

Interchanges: Dean Hadley, Daniel Murray, Robbie Mulhern, Will Maher.

Tries: Quinlan (24), Ryan (26)

Goals: Ellis

Penalties: Ellis (40)

Saints 13: Lachlan Coote, Jack Welsby, Kevin Naiqama, Matty Costello, Regan Grace, Jonny Lomax, Theo Fages, Alex Walmsley, James Roby, Matty Lees, James Bentley, Zeb Taia, James Graham.

Interchanges: Dominic Peyroux, Louis McCarthy-Scarsbrook, Kyle Amor, Aaron Smith.

Tries: Walmsley (6), Welsby (15, 61), Naiqama (48), Smith (59)

Goals: Coote (5)

Penalties: Coote (73)

Half time: 12-12

Full Time: 32-18

Referee: Scott Mikalauskas

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