|10th May 2009||CCC5 ||HOME||7176||HT:18-8|
|Age in brackets is at time of match - Total average age for this team is 26. - ** non-playing sub|
MATCH REPORT : SAINTS won their 17th consecutive cup tie and progressed to the quarter finals of the Challenge Cup with a relatively comprehensive 42-8 win over Catalans Dragons. Doubles from Francis Meli and Gary Wheeler put the cup holders ahead at half time before two from Paul Wellens put the game beyond doubt. Paul Clough then notched his first of the season and Leon Pryce scored as Saints continued their pursuit of their fourth Cup in a row. Mick Potter shuffled the pack bringing Lee Gilmour into the second row and putting Wheeler at centre. Tony Puletua started at loose forward, with Chris Flannery partnering Gilmour in the back row. Bryn Hargreaves started at prop. Thomas Bosc returned for a strong looking Catalans side who led with a formidable pack and strong bench.
Saints started the match with a probing kick from Leon Pryce, but Catalans’ Oliver Elima was first to touch down before Ben Thaler called him back for a forward pass. But Saints piled on the early pressure when Sean Long’s pinpoint kick saw Dimitri Pelo being bundled into touch. And from the scrum, the ball went left and Francis Meli was in. From the restart, Leon Pryce was caught high and moments later, Flannery has broken through the line and created the space for Wheeler to increase Saints’ lead. The ball going through James Graham, Long and Pryce before the youngster put down.
It was the perfect response to Potter’s call for the team to start quickly after back to back defeats. Thomas Bosc slotted a penalty over on 16 minutes to reduce the deficit and seconds later the same man kicked a 40:20 to put his side in prime territory. And it paid off as Cyril Gossard raced through the Saints defence to make it game on with Bosc leveling the scores. Meli put the Saints back on the front foot with his second when Gilmour forced the ball out of the tackle and James Roby delivered the perfect pass. On the stroke of half time, a superb move put Saints further ahead. Roby made some significant yardage before Pryce took it on, broke through the defence and gave it to Paul Wellens who caught Wheeler on the burst. Wheeler with the extras.
Half Time: Saints 18 Catalans 8
It took the home side five minutes to pile pressure on the Catalans line and it paid dividends. On the last tackle after a succession of drives to the line, Graham went from dummy half, looked to be held up but seemingly got the ball out, and Wellens mopped up. Video referee Steve Ganson ruled that the ball did go backwards and gave Graham and subsequently a fortuitous Wellens, the benefit of the doubt. Long with the extras. But there was no doubt over the next score when shortly afterwards, Wellens was in for his seventh of the season. The full back taking a ball at pace from a move started by Graham and Long. Wellens then turned provider when he broke through the centre and had Clough in support for his first of the season. On 68 minutes, Pryce sent the most outrageous dummy and produced a quality side step to dance through the Catalans for his 12th of the year. This put Saints, and the cup holders, in the hat for the next round.
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