Rugby League: ALL WELLENS GOOD FOR SUPER SAINTS; Hat-trick hero helps thwart nail-biting Bulls comeback ST HELENS ..... 34 BRADFORD .... 27.
GREAT BRITAIN fullb a c k Paul Wellens grabbed a hat-trick of tries as St Helens held off a spirited Bradford fightback to claim the points from an engage Super League thriller at Knowsley Road.
The Bulls came back from 22-12 down to edge in front by 24-22 after 56 minutes only to concede a last-minute score to hat-trick hero Wellens.
Saints held their nerve and finished the stronger side to claim both points and keep the pressure on Leeds.
The first try came on 21 minutes when Paul Deacon's grubber kick bounced awkwardly for Wellens and into the arms of grateful prop Andy Lynch. But Wellens made amends two minutes later when he followed up Keiron Cunningham's kick to touch down with inches to spare.
In the absence of Paul Sculthorpe and Jamie Lyon and with Long still unable to kick for goal because of his persistent groin injury, Ian Hardman took over as marksman and kicked the first of four conversions.
Saints were the sharper team and they seized control with two tries in six minutes just before the break. Mike Bennett and James Roby both benefited from telling passes made by New Zealand international Vinnie Anderson to touch down.
Bradford enjoyed their best spell in the second half and go t back to 16-12 when 18-yearold centre Karl Pryce forced his way over.
But when Bulls' skipper Jamie Peacock missed a crucial tackle on Wellens, the Saints' full-back reached out for the line to register his second try.
The visitors edged in front with two tries in four minutes just short of the hour mark, Robbie Paul and Lynch doing the damage.
Deacon's fourth goal made it 24-22 but the lead changed hands for a third time when centre Darren Albert took Long's pass to claim his ninth try of the season.
A Deacon penalty levelled the scores, but Hardman restored Saints' advantage when converting a penalty 20 metres out.
The flurry of points clearly confused Deacon, who had obviously lost count when he put over a drop goal, and he was wide with a second attempt that would have earned his side a share of the spoils.
It proved to be Bradford's last chance, with Saints forcing their way upfield for man of the match Wellens to complete a memorable individual performance with his third try
TWO'S COMPANY: Paul Wellens celebrates his first half try with James Roby at Knowsley Road
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|Publication:||Liverpool Echo (Liverpool, England)|
|Date:||Mar 29, 2005|
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