‘Patience was key’ - Paul Wellens reacts after uneventful start to St Helens win over Hull KR

Saints eventually stormed away in the second half to win 28-6 at the Totally Wicked Stadium.
St Helens coach Paul Wellens. Picture by Alex Whitehead/SWpix.com.St Helens coach Paul Wellens. Picture by Alex Whitehead/SWpix.com.
St Helens coach Paul Wellens. Picture by Alex Whitehead/SWpix.com.

Patience is a virtue - and third-placed St Helens had to show plenty of that to overcome Hull KR 28-6 in their bid for a top two spot in the Betfred Super League and a guaranteed home semi-final tie when the play-offs get under way.

They had high hopes of moving to second in the table as news filtered to the Totally Wicked Stadium that Wigan Warriors were trailing Hull FC at the DW Stadium and the game entering golden point extra-time.

But ice-cool Harry Smith landed a crucial drop goal to give the Cherry and Whites a 13-12 victory and kept them ahead of their neighbours, if only due to a superior for and against column.

St Helens had coach Paul Wellens said: “It was a pleasing victory. Our patience was key tonight, especially as the conditions weren’t great. We had a hard-nosed mentality and our dominance only started to show on the scoreboard late on.

“We are missing some key personnel but that doesn’t mean we can be any less effective. Whoever takes the field understands how we want to play the game.”

Wellens said he felt the experience of losing last Saturday’s Challenge Cup final to Leigh in golden point extra-time had impacted Hull KR.

He said: “They came here off the back of an emotional week which is why it was important we turned up with the effort tonight. We finished the game stronger – I’m not sure if that fatigue was part of their Wembley experience or not.

“Hull KR troubled us a lot and caused us some problems on their last plays so that’s an area we are going to have to continue focusing on.”

The defending champions stormed away with the spoils in the second half after a dull and uneventful opening 40 minutes, suggesting they will need to scale new heights in the remaining set of fixtures against Castleford Tigers (a), Wakefield Trinity (a), Leigh Leopards (h), Warrington Wolves (a) and Hull FC (h) and also get some of their injured players back in the fold.

Saints led 6-0 at the break, thanks to a try from Sione Mata’utia and a Mark Percival penalty. It was a more one-sided second half, with Tommy Makinson scoring two tries with Moses Mbye and Ben Davies also crossing, while Percival kicked a further three goals.

Hull KR’s solitary try came through Mikey Lewis with 18 minutes remaining – and  then Brad Schneider stepped up to add the conversion.