Jonny Lomax scored a hat-trick to lead St Helens to a convincing 52-18 victory over an injury-hit Wakefield Trinity Wildcats side at Langtree Park on Friday night.
The in-form full-back scored 26 points to guide Nathan Brown’s men to their first home win of the season and leave Wakefield, without five senior players through injury, without a win in four Super League matches.
A youthful-looking Wildcats side put in a spirited performance for an hour, trailing their hosts by ten points after Dean Collis’s second try of the night. But Lomax’s second just minutes later opened the floodgates and allowed the hosts to post a score that perhaps flattered them.
The task was always going to be a tough one for Wakefield with five key men missing through injury. Influential play-maker Tim Smith missed out with a calf injury, while forwards Justin Poore and Ali Lauitiiti joined skipper Danny Kirmond and Andy Raleigh in the treatment room.
It meant first starts of the season for the returning Kyle Amor, at prop, Kyle Wood, at scrum-half, and Vince Mellars, at second row. Reece Lyne returned from a pectoral injury to replace Lee Smith in the centres, while Matt Wildie made the substitutes’ bench.
Wildcats could not have wished for a better start. Just two minutes had elapsed when Collis made a great break down the right and off-loaded to Richie Mathers for his third try of the season. Paul Sykes obliged with the conversion.
Saints worked their way back into the game, partly thanks to a penalty conceded by Wakefield on the first tackle. The hosts pushed down field before forcing a goal-line drop-out and from the next set they got on level terms. Prop Alex Walmsley was the man over on his Super League debut and Lomax kicked his first points.
It lifted Nathan Brown’s men and they took the lead for the first time minutes later. Lomax broke free and danced around Mathers to score under the posts before booting over the extras.
Wildcats did not crumble, however, and produced a good response. A couple of penalties helped the visitors into good position and on the last tackle Wood’s grubber kick was touched down by Ben Cockayne for his eighth try of the season. Sykes converted to level.
Wakefield were looking good value for the scoreline but Saints regained the lead after 26 minutes. Collis tried and failed to push a James Roby, making his 300th appearance, grubber kick dead and centre Jordan Turner was on-hand to touchdown. Lomax’s touchline kick was superb.
Winger Francis Meli and Lomax were causing all kinds of problems for Wildcats down the left and their neat link-up play almost put the former in for another Saints try on the half-hour mark but the pass proved just too high. Wildcats were proving no pushovers, however, and at the other end Collis came close to taking a Sykes kick but the hosts intervened with a knock-on to rebuff the threat.
Wakefield will have been keen to hold out until half-time but five minutes before the break the hosts extended their lead. Good work by the powerful Meli helped Turner breakthrough for his second try of the night. Lomax missed the kick to leave Saints with a ten-point lead going into half-time.
The first try of the second half was going to be crucial and Saints were the ones to get it. After Peter Fox sent the ball out for a goal-line drop-out Wakefield then conceded a penalty and the hosts worked their way towards the Wildcats line for Louie McCarthy-Scarsbrook to cross the whitewash and give the hosts some breathing space at 28-12.
As with the first half, Wakefield refused to lie down and responded with a great spell of pressure on the Saints line. Collis and Washbrook were stopped short and Fox thought he had touched down in the corner only for the referee to award a penalty to the visitors. The pressure eventually paid off just before the hour when good play by Lee Smith and Washbrook put Collis in for his second try of the night. Sykes converted to narrow the gap to ten points.
But just when Wakefield had a sniff of a comeback Saints, or should that be Lomax, dashed those hopes. The on-song full-back went over twice in three minutes, the first a brilliant, dancing solo effort, to complete his hat-trick and all-but seal the points for the hosts.
Lomax’s quickfire double wrapped the game up for Saints but there was still time for tries for the returning Tommy Makinson out wide and Lance Hohaia wrapped-up the try-scoring to see Saints hit a half century of points.
Saints: Lomax, Makinson, Turner, Jones, Meli, Hohaia, Wilkin (c), Laffranchi, Roby, Walmsley, Manu, Soliola, Walker. Subs: McCarthy-Scarsbrook, Flanagan, Clough, Hand.
Wildcats: Mathers, Fox, Collis, Lyne, Cockayne, Sykes, Wood, Wilkes, Aiton, Amor, Mellars, Mariano, Washbrook. Subs: L Smith, Trout, Wildie, Annakin.
Referee: Robert Hicks.