Top against third, St Helens versus Huddersfield Giants, was clearly the game of round nineteen as the Giants looked to close the gap on the league leaders and continue their rebirth under coach Ian Watson as they continue to aim high and show a positive attitude.
Both sides have lost just once in their last eight outings and came into the weekend on the back of good win last weekend at the Magic Weekend. The side with home advantage were the bookies favourites as they gave away ten points on the handicap coupon to their visitors.
Alex Walmsley was back for the Saints with Agnatius Paasi on the bench after starting last time out against Wigan while the Giants had Will Pryce at full back in place of Tui Lolohea alongside a couple of other changes.
Huddersfield Giants came out of the blocks like they meant business and after benefitting from a couple of early penalties and a set restart they laid siege to a well defended St Helens line but couldn´t make it over the whitewash.
After weathering the early storm, James Roby had a try ruled out by referee Chris Kendall on eight minutes for a clear double-movement, and Jonny Lomax missed a simple penalty opportunity on fourteen.
High drama on sixteen saw Sione Mata´utia red carded for lifting an injured player after an innocuous looking tackle, the Champions down to twelve for two thirds of the game.
Great Saints defence prevented Innes Senior from grounding on nineteen as they bundled him into touch, the wingers knee touching the line as he grounded.
The deadlock was finally broken on twenty-eight minutes as Joe Batchelor chased a Jonny Lomax deft grubber kick and grounded by the right upright. Lomax added the conversion for a 6-0 lead for the twelve men.
Will Pryce missed a forty metres penalty goal after the half time hooter, Saints into the break with a slender 6-0 lead. It was all still to play for at half time, the Giants slight favourites as the Saints should tire later in the game.
Four minutes after the restart Paasi muscled his way to the line from ten metres out to slam the ball down. Lomax added the conversion, the twelve me were twelve points ahead.
Lomax added penalty goal on forty-nine, Saints eking out the win.
It was all over on fifty-one when Jack Welsby took the Lomax pass, stepped out of a tackle and ran the angle to go in at the right corner. Lomax was unable to add the conversion but at 18-0 it was a mountain for the Giants to climb.
On the hour mark, Senior was again tackled into touch by the Saints defence, the Giants just couldn´t score, even against a twelve-man Saints.
A forearm shove from Morgan Knowles on seventy-one saw the Saints loose forward sin binned and his side down to eleven for the remainder of the game.
Two minutes later Welsby broke downfield before finding Lomax in support to sprint the last thirty metres of a sixty-metre break. Lomax added the conversion for 24-0.
With three minutes of the game remaining Will Pryce had the ball dislodged by Lomax in the act of grounding, the try wiped off by the video referee as a final act of cruelty against a Giants side who had a most frustrating night.
Welsby added a drop goal with three seconds remaining to spoil a few peoples predictions and coupons to seal a 25-0 win.
Saints seem unstoppable, even when they handicap themselves with moments of stupidity. The Giants are pretenders to their throne but couldn´t get over the whitewash against a side who played over an hour with a man less, and the last ten minutes two players down. The Giant´s woes were compounded by the loss of Jermaine McGillvary with a knee injury in the second half as the Saints continue their relentless march to another minor premiership.
A sublime performance.
St Helens: Hopoate, Bennison, Hurrell, Mata´utia (SO on 16), Grace, Welsby (T, DG), Lomax (T, 4G), Walmsley, Roby, Lees, Sironen, Batchelor (T), Knowles (SB on 71). Subs: Lussick, McCarthy-Scarsbrook, Wingfield, Paasi (T).
Huddersfield Giants: Pryce, McGillvary, Cudjoe, King, Senior I, Russell, Fages, Trout, Levi, Greenwood, Jones, McQueen, Yates. Subs: Wilson, Ashworth, Golding, Hewitt.
Score Progression: (SO), 4-0, 6-0 : HT : 10-0, 12-0, 14-0, 18-0, (SB), 22-0, 24-0, 25-0 : FT.
Lead Exchanges: Saints.
Referee: Chris Kendall.