Salisbury JournalSaints maintain grip at top (From Salisbury Journal)

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Saints maintain grip at top

Salisbury Journal: Paul Wellens scored two tries as St Helens eased to victory Paul Wellens scored two tries as St Helens eased to victory

St Helens ran in eight tries to retain top spot in the First Utility Super League with a comfortable 46-22 win over struggling Bradford at Langtree Park.

Saints scored 40 of their points inside the first 50 minutes as they swept the Bulls aside with tries from James Roby, Paul Wellens, Mose Masoe, seven-goal Mark Percival, Adam Swift, Lance Hohaia and Tommy Makinson.

They then eased up and James Lowes' Bradford restored some pride with Luke Gale, Joe Arundel, Adrian Purtell and Jamie Foster touchdowns but Wellens had the final say in the last minute.

The first half was scrappy but Saints were still far too strong for the Bulls who, 11 points adrift of safety with just seven games remaining, are all but condemned to the drop.

Bradford felt they were harshly penalised by referee Robert Hicks - who had earlier halted play to change a faulty whistle - in the ninth minute but Saints took full advantage as Mark Flanagan sent Roby over.

The Bulls did respond but Adrian Purtell failed to gather a high ball and a chance was missed.

When the evergreen Wellens hit an Adam Swift pass at speed to burst through a gap and race through to score from 60 metres after 16 minutes, the game already seemed beyond Bradford.

Masoe barged through several attempted tackles to add a third by the posts before Percival out-sprinted the defence to score out wide after more good work by Wellens.

Saints punished more sloppy work on the stroke of half-time after Matty Blyth lost possession, as quick hands from Jon Wilkin, Wellens and Anthony Laffranchi set up Swift.

Percival's missed conversion from the touchline was his only wayward attempt of the match.

Bradford could not stem the tide and within three minutes of the restart Louie McCarthy-Scarsbrook charged through a hole and laid off for Hohaia to finish.

The agony continued for the visitors as Saints swept the ball along the line for Makinson to dive over in familiar fashion on the right.

With the game all but won, Saints eased off and were caught out by four quick-fire Bradford tries.

Gale pounced on a bouncing ball to touch down just before the hour and moments later the Bulls scrum-half launched a high kick which Swift was unable to reach. Arundel nipped in to score in the corner.

Encouraged, the Bulls played a bit more expansively and pieced together a nice try for Purtell.

Jamie Foster converted all three tries and with just over seven minutes remaining, found space to touch down himself on the left.

It was too little too late for the visitors, but they had at least brought some respectability to the scoreline.

The tries conceded may concern Saints coach Nathan Brown but Wellens, still performing brilliantly at the age of 34, wrapped up the tryscoring in the dying seconds with a poacher's finish.

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