Super League: St Helens 35-34 Huddersfield Giants
|First Utility Super League|
|St Helens (18) 35|
|Tries: Quinlan 3, Percival 2, Greenwood Goals: Walsh 5 Drop-goal: Walsh|
|Huddersfield Giants (12) 34|
|Tries: Hughes, McGillvary 2, Cudjoe, Crabtree, Murphy Goals: Ellis 5|
Adam Quinlan marked his St Helens debut with a first-half hat-trick of tries as Saints beat Huddersfield Giants with a late drop-goal from Luke Walsh.
Australian full-back Quinlan helped the hosts to an 18-12 lead at half-time.
Huddersfield trailed 34-24 but Eorl Crabtree and Aaron Murphy crossed in the final 10 minutes to level the game.
However, Giants duo Jamie Ellis and Danny Brough both missed kicks to win it and Walsh landed a one-pointer with two minutes left to send Saints second.
The reigning Super League champions are back above Wigan in the table and lie one point behind leaders Leeds Rhinos.
Huddersfield never led during the 80 minutes but they could feel aggrieved to leave Langtree Park without a point, having fought back to level on five separate occasions.
Quinlan, signed on a short-term deal from Parramatta Eels, is the seventh different man to play at full-back for St Helens this season, with injuries and retirements robbing head coach Keiron Cunningham of a number of options in that position.
The 22-year-old made an immediate impact as Saints recovered from a slow opening to take a six-point advantage at the interval.
Cunningham said his team had made the "worst start in St Helens' history" in their 46-18 hammering at Leeds seven days previously, and they began poorly against Huddersfield too, although the visitors wasted three presentable chances to score inside the first 12 minutes.
Quinlan's first two tries came with elements of good fortune, as firstly a deflected grubber kick and then Andre Savelio's offload both fell perfectly for him to touch down unopposed.
Jack Hughes and Jermaine McGillvary provided quick replies for Huddersfield, but Quinlan ensured Saints would go into half-time in front with a well-worked try created by stand-in captain James Roby.
Huddersfield centre Leroy Cudjoe dummied his way across the line to score his 99th career try and level for a third time.
Mark Percival's first for Saints was quickly cancelled out by McGillvary's second of the match, before the home side surged into a 10-point lead.
Roby set up Joe Greenwood and Walsh sent centre Percival over for his second, but Crabtree and Murphy made it all-square again.
Ellis failed to convert Murphy's try, while Brough was just off target with a 50-metre penalty, and those misses allowed Saints scrum-half Walsh to be the match-winner.
St Helens head coach Keiron Cunningham:
"We had plenty of opportunities to win that game comfortably. You can't gift sides of Huddersfield's calibre that many chances.
"It's disappointing but it's a win. The boys hung in. It was like cat and mouse but we got the points in the end and they're going to be quite valuable.
"But we need to have a look at our goal-line defence. We've got plenty of work to do this week."
Huddersfield coach Paul Anderson:
"We should have been that far out in front, we had enough chances to win next week's game as well with the position and amount of possession we had.
"It's bitterly tough to take. The positive is we kept battling away and scored some nice tries. I think we did enough to win more than the one game.
"The boys are angry more than anything because they know they should have won the game. Some of the tries they scored were pretty soft."
St Helens: Quinlan; Dawson, Percival, Turner, Swift; Burns, Walsh; Amor, Roby, Masoe, McCarthy-Scarsbrook, Greenwood, Jones.
Replacements: Walmsley, Flanagan, Richards, Savelio.
Huddersfield: Grix; McGillvary, Cudjoe, Murphy, Broughton; Brough, Ellis; Crabtree, Robinson, Huby, Wardle, Hughes, Ta'ai.
Replacements: Lawrence, Kopczak, Wood, Mason.
Referee: Ben Thaler