Super League: St Helens beat Warrington again, winning 30-12 in Wembley warm-up
|Betfred Super League|
|Warrington (10) 12|
|Tries: Mamo, Thewlis Goals: Ratchford 2|
|St Helens (12) 30|
|Tries: Naiqama, Lomax, Paulo, Costello, Makinson Goals: Richardson 5|
Super League leaders St Helens enjoyed a third victory of the season against Warrington as they won their Challenge Cup final dress rehearsal.
Saints led only 12-10 at the break, thanks to tries from Kevin Naiqama and Jonny Lomax in response to home scores for Jake Mamo and Josh Thewlis.
But, against a weakened Wire, St Helens ran away with it after the break.
Joseph Paulo, Matty Costello and Tommy Makinson all crossed to help Saints go 14 points clear of Wire at the top.
Second-placed Warrington have now lost four times on the trot and will be caught by third-placed Hull on points, if the Black and Whites win at Wakefield on Sunday.
The Wire now have just one more game, away to fourth-placed reigning champions Wigan on 16 August, before they meet Saints again at Wembley on 24 August.
Warrington ring the changes
While St Helens were without Lachlan Coote and opted to rest James Roby, injury-hit Warrington had a comparatively inexperienced side out, having made nine changes following last Saturday's ill-tempered game against Catalans in Perpignan.
While Tom Lineham was suspended, Dec Patton, Daryl Clark, Jason Clark and Joe Philbin were kept sidelined too, on top of the main Warrington injury concerns, Blake Austin, Jack Hughes, Mike Cooper and Josh Charnley.
They were then further hampered by an early head injury to Ben Currie, while back-up hooker Danny Walker went off midway through the first half with an ankle injury and back rower Luis Johnson (concussion) also failed to finish.
But they did have veteran forward Ben Westwood back for the first time in nine matches, as he winds down to his planned end-of-season retirement.
St Helens-born Matty Smith, signed in midweek on loan from Catalans, came in for his debut against his hometown club, alongside 17-year-old debutant Riley Dean, while England rugby union international Luther Burrell made his first start since crossing codes to join the Wire from Northampton Saints.
Warrington coach Steve Price's gamble on fielding such an under-strength team, fielding just eight members of his likely Challenge Cup final team, looked like it might pay off when Wire twice led in a highly-competitive first half.
But, from being just 12-10 up at the interval, Saints' greater experience told in the end, sparked by substitute prop Kyle Amor creating a first try for the club for Paulo four minutes into the second half.
After the third of Danny Richardson's five goals put his side two scores in front, a second penalty from Stefan Ratchford on 56 minutes for Wire cut the deficit back to 18-12.
But 18-year-old fill-back Jack Welsby was on hand to wrap up a 22nd victory in 25 league games this season by supplying the final passes for Saints' last two tries from centre Costello and Makinson, another classic one-hand aerial finish from the flying winger in the right corner.
Warrington coach Steve Price:
"This result won't be an indication of what's going to happen in two weeks. I'm really proud of the boys. We had a lot of guys banging on the door for an opportunity and they put their hands up.
"We lost our whole bench with 17 minutes to go. We had no one left to go back on and Chris Hill was cramping up so we went with 12 for the last bit but they showed a lot of fighting spirit. We went down swinging.
"Hopefully they're not too serious. We're very fortunate that we have a long turn-around to our next game against Wigan.
"It was a real solid hit-out from Luther. I've said from day one, he's going to make mistakes along the way. It's part of his learning. He's only going to get better and better, especially with a full pre-season behind him."
St Helens coach Justin Holbrook:
"It was great for young Jack. He's had a handful of games with us now and he's getting better every week. He was terrific.
"Obviously we're pushing to have Lachlan Coote back for Wembley but we'd have no issue if we had to play Jack.
"Both sides had a number of players out so it was a tricky game to play. You still want to play well and we did that.
"We started a bit slow and it was close at half-time but we came away with a good win in the end."
Warrington: Ratchford; Mamo, Burrell, Goodwin, Thewlis; Dean, M Smith; Walker, Hill, Akauola, Currie, Livett, Westwood.
Interchanges: Murdoch-Masila, Tasi, Davis, L Johnson.
St Helens: Welsby; Makinson, Naiqama, Costello, Grace; Lomax, Richardson; A Smith, Lees, Thompson, Peyroux, Taia, McCarthy-Scarsbrook.
Interchanges: Paulo, Amor, Ashworth, Bentley.
Referee: Ben Thaler (RFL)