SAINTS got the defence of their Super League title
SAINTS got the defence of their Super League title underway with a solid 18-7 win over Catalans at a freezing Langtree Park.A stop-start encounter saw two men sinbinned and Keiron Cunningham’s men turning round a half time deficit to come on top in a real war of attrition.Atelea Vea was huge on the edges whilst the pack stood up to everything the Dragons threw at them.Alongside the former London Bronco, Travis Burns also made his debut whilst Joe Greenwood’s strong pre-season was rewarded with a starting spot.Catalans also named a formidable side – but had Todd Carney missing with a groin problem.With each team’s flags on the field and thunderstruck on the PA, the match had that big game feel.And with the crowd roaring Catalans kicked off, Alex Walmsley took the ball in and Willie Tonga ended up out cold on the floor after attempting the tackle.He seemed to hit the big prop’s knee as he went for the hit and it was sad to see him carried off the field on a stretcher looking in really bad shape.After the stoppage the game understandably took a while to get going. Joe Greenwood almost broke through in the fourth minute but Jordan Turner just couldn’t find a gap.But a minute later, a high ball went up into the Saints’ in-goal area and Zeb Taia snaffled it up. The Dragons celebrated but the video referee pulled it back for a knock on.Saints heeded the warning and on their next attack they scored.A couple of penalties got them up the field, the ball came right at pace and Vea showed all his strength to plunge over.Makinson with the extras.Saints forced a drop out on 10 minutes and then had further chances to stretch their advantage to no avail.And on the 24th minute a wonderful break that involved a kick from Makinson, Burns offloading to Lomax and the ball being flipped out of the back door wasn’t punished too – Percival stripped as he went for the line.Saints defended three drop outs and a set right on their line to preserve the advantage and then had another to stop after a rare Lomax error.But in the same sequence the referee penalised Saints three times – the latter coming bizarrely after Lomax took the ball clean in the in-goal area – and then sin binned Greg Richards for a ball steal that looked all the world like a knock on.Pelissier burrowed over to level it up – finally taking advantage of all that pressure – and Bosc put the Dragons ahead with a one pointer as the hooter sounded.Saints began the second half a man down but in Catalonian territory after two penalties – and they made it count.Makinson was hit with a shoulder as he went for the corner and from the tap penalty, the ball swept left and Turner put them back in front.On 47 minutes, Pelissier had one chalked off for a knock on – a massive let off for Saints who were caught napping on their own line.Swift then one disallowed off that looked all the world try on the screen.But the defence eventually did crack.A superb break from Turner saw Lomax through and on his way to the line. He was tackled by Michael Oldfield but the winger refused to let him play the ball.He got ten minutes in the bin for his indiscretion and Andre Savelio showed his power to put Saints in charge.Makinson missed the kick but it was a blow that Catalan never really recovered from.Roby smashed his way through the Catalan rearguard in the final five minutes and Makinson duly finished his teammate’s fantastic work.Mose and Elima got it on in the final seconds and that underlined what a tough physical battle it was all night.Match Summary:Saints: Tries: Vea, Turner, Savelio, MakinsonGoals: Makinson (1 from 3), Percival (0 from 1)Dragons:Tries: Pelissier Goals: Bosc (1 from 1)Drop: Bosc Penalties: Saints: 8Dragons: 11HT: 6-7FT: 18-7REF: Phil BenthamATT: 12,008Teams:Saints:1. Jonny Lomax; 2. Thomas Makinson, 3. Jordan Turner, 17. Mark Percival, 5. Adam Swift; 6. Travis Burns, 12. Jon Wilkin; 10. Kyle Amor, 9. James Roby, 14. Alex Walmsley, 21. Joe Greenwood, 11. Atelea Vea, 4. Josh Jones.Subs: 8. Mose Masoe, 16. Lance Hohaia, 19. Greg Richards, 25. Andre Savelio.Dragons:1. Morgan Escaré; 2. Vincent Duport, 3. Ben Pomeroy, 4. Willie Tonga, 5. Michael Oldfield; 14. Thomas Bosc, 9. Ian Henderson; 15. Jeff Lima, 16. Eloi Pelissier, 10. Rémi Casty, 11. Zeb Taia, 17. Elliott Whitehead, 12. Louis Anderson.Subs: 8. Olivier Elima, 13. Gregory Mounis, 18. Benjamin Garcia, 21. Julian Bousquet.