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Page last updated at 18:51 GMT, Saturday, 19 September 2009 19:51 UK

St Helens 15-2 Huddersfield

St Helens (14) 15
Tries: Puletua, Pryce, Meli Goals: Eastmond Drop: Long
Huddersfield (2) 2
Goals: B Hodgson

Leon Pryce
Pryce's try helped St Helens to a hard-fought victory

St Helens reached the Super League play-off qualifying semi-finals after holding off Huddersfield.

The home side did most of the damage with three tries in the first 20 minutes through Tony Puletua, Leon Pryce and Francis Meli.

Huddersfield tried hard to get back into it but could find no way of breaching the Saints defence.

Sean Long's drop goal sealed the win as Saints bid to reach a fourth successive Grand Final appearance.

Huddersfield will now face another chance to advance when they play in next weekend's preliminary semi-finals.

Saints came into the game on the back of four defeats in their last five matches but they were given the perfect start when Puletua intercepted a Liam Fulton pass to power over from 20 metres out after only two minutes.

Although Brett Hodgson got his side on the scoreboard with a penalty, Saints extended their lead on 13 minutes when a trademark Pryce jinking run got him over the line.


Huddersfield struggled to make an impact on the game and it was no surprise when Kyle Eastmond got winger Meli over at the corner and although Eastmond converted just one of the tries, the home side were in control.

Eorl Crabtree came close to scoring his first try of the season after being set up by Hodgson but Saints full-back Paul Wellens produced a last-gasp tackle to deny him while Giants centre Stephen Wild lost the ball with the line at his mercy.

Saints thought they had scored again in the second half when right winger Ade Gardner was first to Long's kick to the corner but slow-motion replays revealed a knock-on and Long's drop goal was the only score of the last hour of the game.

St Helens coach Mick Potter:

"I thought our line speed was good and our contact was good and defensively, it was very close to our best performance of the season.

"It was a definite improvement on last week. You could see there was a lot at stake. It was a slow game and very hard to get points but that's what you get when the rucks are so slow."

"Not playing next week will be better for the guys carrying knocks," .

Huddersfield coach Nathan Brown:

"There wasn't a great deal in the game, just the first 20, 25 minutes. We weren't quite good enough.

"In semi-finals you have to up the speed and we didn't do that in the first 20 minutes. Their line speed was better than ours as was their kick-chase.

"They are a very good side and we weren't far away."

St Helens: Wellens, Gardner, Gidley, Eastmond, Meli, Pryce, Long, Graham, Cunningham, Puletua, Flannery, Wilkin, Gilmour. Replacements: Roby, Hargreaves, Clough, Fa'asavalu.

Huddersfield: Cudjoe, Aspinwall, Lawrence, Finnigan, D. Hodgson, B. Hodgson, Robinson, Sculthorpe, Fulton, P. Jackson, Wild, Raleigh, Whaturia. Replacements: Crabtree, D. Griffin, Lunt, Patrick.

Referee: R Silverwood (Dewsbury)

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see also
The Jon Wilkin interview
17 Sep 09 |  Rugby League
Play-offs are flawed, says Wilkin
18 Sep 09 |  Rugby League
Road to Old Trafford
25 Sep 09 |  Rugby League
Huddersfield 48-16 Wigan
13 Sep 09 |  Rugby League
St Helens 12-24 Catalans
11 Sep 09 |  Rugby League
St Helens 14-24 Huddersfield
09 Aug 09 |  Rugby League
Super League Show
17 Feb 08 |  Rugby League

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