Warrington v St Helens- The Top 5 Encounters
When the first round of this year’s super league fixtures were announced, there was only one match that everyone was talking about. Over the years, rivals Warrington and St Helens have produced some memorable and nail-biting encounters, showcasing the best of rugby league. With the Saints having strengthened in their forward line this year, and with Warrington weakened by the loss of influential playmaker Lee Briers, Thursday night’s game at the Halliwell Jones stadium is arguably too close to call. As part of the build up to the big game, I’ve selected 5 of the most thrilling games between the sides in the super league era, and with 3 games being played between the two this year, who’s to say there won’t be plenty more close encounters.
5) St Helens 18-25 Warrington (25/02/11)
Not one of the most nail-biting games between the two but one of the most memorable for one reason- Warrington had finally beaten their rivals for the first time in 10 years, and only the 2nd in the Super League era. With the game being played at Widnes’s Stobart Stadium, Warrington were impressive from the start and built up a 24-0 lead thanks to tries from Richie Myler, Louis Anderson and two from Lee Briers. The response from St Helens came with late tries from Michael Shenton, Chris Flannery and Lee Gaskell, but a drop goal from Briers ensured the Wolves secured the points. A memorable night for the Wolves who finally put their St Helens hoodoo to rest.
4) St Helens 18-36 Warrington (29/09/12, Playoff Semi-Final)
Built up as one of the biggest play-off semi-finals there has been, the two teams didn’t disappoint as they met at Langtree Park for the right to play at Old Trafford the following week. Having beaten the Wolves 28-6 in the earlier play-off round, Saints started the strongest, and raced into a 14-6 lead thanks to tries from Tommy Makinson, Francis Meli and Jon Wilkin. However, Warrington responded with a try from Grix just before the break, and then kept up the momentum in the second half to run away with the victory. For the Wolves there were celebrations galore as they booked their place at Old Trafford for the first time in their history. For Saints it was misery, as they missed out on the Grand Final for the first time in 6 years.
3) St Helens 31-30 Warrington (29/04/05)
Never write St Helens off. That’s what anyone in Rugby League will tell you and this game proved it, with a sense of de ja vu for what had happened at the Halliwell Jones stadium just a few weeks earlier. A high scoring, neck and neck encounter which could have gone either way. With Paul Wood giving Warrington a 30-28 lead with just a few minutes remaining it looked like he had secured victory for the Wolves. However, Graham Appo missed a simple conversion, and a converted penalty from Sean Long brought the scores level at 30-30. All eyes were now on a winning drop goal, which came with 30 seconds left from Long, with a brilliant 35 metre effort which sailed over to give Saints another memorable win over their rivals.
2) St Helens 17-16 Warrington (09/08/08)
A sense of ‘here we go again’, as St Helens produced another outstanding comeback in the dying minutes of another tight encounter between the teams. In a repeat of the game from 3 years earlier, Warrington had set up a 16-10 lead with just 3 minutes remaining. Surely this time they could hold on to beat the Saints for only the 2nd time in 32 Super League encounters. However, St Helens had other ideas, as Lee Gilmour went over the line to bring Saints level at 16 each. Attention turned to Briers and Long. Who would get the winning drop goal? With history repeating itself, it was Sean Long who sailed over the drop goal almost on the exact spot and with the exact same time remaining as 3 seasons ago. More misery for Warrington over their rivals, and more scenes of jubilation for St Helens.
1) Warrington 16-18 St Helens (04/03/05)
One of the greatest comebacks in sport? For sure. With the Wolves having been on top all game against a strong St Helens side and having built an unassailable 16-4 lead with just 8 minutes to go. With the near impossible task of needing 3 tries to win, St Helens responded. A slick ball from Paul Wellens put Darren Albert in in the corner on 72 minutes. With momentum now swinging Saints way, Micky Higham, then of the Saints, looked to have forced his way over the line, only for the video referee to disallow it. It didn’t matter, however, as two plays later Higham was in again to bring the scoreline to 16-14 in Warrington’s favour. With just a few seconds left, surely not. For Warrington it would have been an incredible result against the top of the table side, and only their second league win over Saints in the super league era. With the hooter having sounded, Jamie Lyon launched a high ball into the corner. Albert fumbled the ball backwards into the arms of Kieran Cunningham who went over for the victory. For Warrington, they had lost the unloseable. For Saints, it was a memorable evening, and one of the greatest comebacks in sport.
Warrington host St Helens at the Halliwell Jones Stadium this Thursday, 8pm kick-off. Tickets are still available, or alternatively watch live on Sky Sports 1