Third took on tenth in the third game of round twelve at the Totally Wicked Stadium in St Helens where the hosts looked for a return to the top of the table as they played a Hull KR side who knew a win would lift them ahead of a Salford Red Devils side who have a bye this weekend.
The odds were well and truly on a Saints victory but there must have been a nagging doubt in the minds of their players and coaching staff after the Robins demolished the high flying Wigan Warriors last time out in the biggest shock since the restart.
If KR could prevent any early momentum from the Champions then they’d fancy their chance of causing back to back upsets.
KR spilled a high Lachlan Coote ball on six minutes and two tackles later Jordan Abdull was caught offside. Saints pointed at the sticks and Coote grabbed the lead for the Saints.
KR were putting up a brave fight as they looked for their first win in St Helens for seven year. On twenty-three the Robins got their just reward, Dean Hadley hitting a gap in the Saints defence to go ten metres to ground off a Jordan Abdull pass. Will Dagger smacked his conversion between the uprights for a 6-2 lead.
Regan Grace scored a trademark try on thirty-four, Saints first of the night, when he took a Jonny Lomax pass to fly in at the corner and score by the flag. Coote did brilliantly to add the touchline conversion for an 8-6 lead.
It only took just over two minutes for Saints to extend their lead after a nice cross-field passing move found Jack Welsby who went twenty metres to score in the corner. Coote added the conversion again from wide for 14-6.
KR struck back on fifty-one with Shaun Kenny-Dowell on hand to touch down a ball knocked back into goal by Grace. Will Dagger added the conversion from the right touchline to put the Robins back within two of the Saints.
Alex Walmsley scored one of his trademark tries on the hour dragging four tacklers over the line and manageing to get the ball onto the ground. Coote, ever accurate with the boot, made it 20-12.
As the minutes ticked away it looked increasingly like a Saints win. But on seventy-four Ethan Ryan took a pass three out from the line and grounded acrobatically in the corner. Dagger again converted from the touchline to reduce the arrears to just two points. It was all to play for in the last five minutes.
KR forced a dropout with two minutes left of the clock and as they returned the ball a swinging arm from Kevin Naiqama on Kane Linnett saw the Saints centre sin-binned and Will Dagger kicking at goal. The kick sailed between the uprights to level the scores.
The full time hooter sounded and we headed into Golden Point.
Saints won the toss and kicked off thwarting the first KR attack. Gaining great field position Coote went for the first drop goal but kicked wide.
KR didn’t set up a goal effort on their next set but with four minutes on the clock the ball went back to Theo Fages who found the target to win the game and take Saints back to the top of the table.
A fantastic KR performance against a Saints side who were playing close to the top of their game. Where Tony Smith has dragged the comittment and drive from, only he will know, but it is making the Robins a fun side to watch as they take the game to their opponents. Saints kept their nerve and took the points in a thriller.
Saints: Coote (4G), Grace (T), Simm, Naiqama (SB on 78), Welsby (T), Lomax, Fages (DG), Walmsley (T), Roby, Graham, Taia, Bentley, Knowles. Subs: Peyroux, Amor, Lees, Smith.
KR: Dagger (4G), Ryan (T), Kenny-Dowall (T), Linnett, Minikin, Abdull, Lewis, Hauraki, Litten, Lawler, Storton, Hadley (T), Minchella. Subs: Parcell, Murray, Garbutt, Peteru.
Referee: Jack Smith.
Full-Time: 20-20 – 21-20 After Golden Point.
Ground: Totally Wicked Stadium, St Helens.