St Helens fight back to beat Giants and go top

Jonny Lomax takes aim with the boot
Jonny Lomax kicked the winning drop-goal in the final minute [SW Pix]

Betfred Super League

St Helens (6) 13

Tries: Makinson, Clark Goals: Percival 2 Drop-goal: Lomax

Huddersfield (12) 12

Tries: Naiqama, Swift Goals: Connor 2

St Helens returned to the Super League summit as Jonny Lomax’s last-gasp drop-goal gave them victory against Huddersfield at the Totally Wicked Stadium.

Huddersfield silenced the home support by surging into an early 12-0 lead through a Kevin Naiqama try and Adam Swift’s 15th score in nine matches.

Tommy Makinson’s interception try halved the deficit before the break, and Daryl Clarke levelled midway through the second half.

An attritional contest looked to be going into extra time until Lomax dropped a goal from long range with barely 30 seconds remaining.

Saints were second best before the break and could easily have trailed by more, but they hung in and then turned up the heat in the second half to eventually wear down sixth-placed Giants and move above Catalans on points difference at the top.

Huddersfield were fired up from the whistle, hunting a sixth straight win, and their early pressure was rewarded when Mark Percival failed to collect a high ball and Joe Greenwood sent Saints old boy Naiqama away for his eighth try in as many games.

Jake Connor pulled the strings throughout the first half and his break out of the Giants red zone fed Swift for the second score after 11 minutes.

Super League’s leading try scorer this season shrugged off Makinson, tore down the left and touched down from his own kick ahead for his 10th league try of the campaign.

The Giants’ intensity was not limited to their attack and they showed discipline and commitment in defence as Saints sought a response, but were instead forced into uncharacteristic mistakes at both ends of the pitch.

Yet they were handed a lifeline out of nothing when Makinson picked Tui Lolohea’s ambitious pass and raced away from deep in his own half to touch down under the sticks.

Despite the setback, Huddersfield continued to dominate against sloppy Saints, and could have had more points before the break, notably when Jake Bibby, with Swift on his shoulder, dropped Connor’s pass under pressure from Makinson.

Ian Watson’s side held out superbly in the second half as they were pushed further and further back.

However, as the hosts turned the screw, the levelling try looked inevitable and duly came just after the hour mark when Clark wriggled through three challenges and stretched out an arm to dot down.

A brilliant tackle from the Giants’ impressive Seb Ikahihifo denied Waqa Blake an acrobatic flying finish as the visitors refused to roll over.

But Ikahihifo’s high tackle with two minutes left gave Saints the penalty and field position which ultimately won the game.

Moses Mbye’s drop goal was blocked, but the ball was won back and Lomax landed a monster to give Saints a 10th straight win over the Giants.

Huddersfield head coach Ian Watson told BBC Radio Leeds:

"A tough game. Two different halves – I think first half we were the better team and in the second half Saints were probably the better team.

"Saints are obviously used to being in them kind of games and they’ve come through it on the other side.

"Do I think they’ve deserved it? I’m going to say I thought we deserved it. The character and the resilience we showed was outstanding.

"The one thing for us is that we can take confidence from it. You can see the development that the team is going through.

"Both teams worked really hard to get the result and, unfortunately for us, Jonny has nailed the drop goal at the end and Saints have got it."

St Helens: Bennison, Makinson, Hurrell, Percival, Blake, Lomax, Welsby, Lees, Mbye, Mata'utia, Whitley, Batchelor, Knowles.

Interchanges: Clark, Bell, Sironen, Delaney

Huddersfield: Connor, Swift, Bibby, Naiqama, Wallis, Lolohea, Clune, Wilson, Milner, Greenwood, Cudjoe, Rushton, Yates.

Interchanges: Golding, English, Ikahihifo, Halsall.

Referee: Liam Moore.