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Last Updated: Tuesday, 29 March, 2005, 11:01 GMT 12:01 UK
St Helens 34-27 Bradford
St Helens team-mates Paul Wellens and Keiron Cunningham
St Helens 34 (16)
Tries: Wellens (3), Bennett, Roby, Albert
Goals: Hardman (5)
Bradford 27 (6)
Tries: Lynch (2), K Pryce, Paul
Goals: Deacon (5)
Drops: Deacon
Paul Wellens claimed a hat-trick as St Helens beat Bradford in an epic contest at Knowsley Road.

Wellens scored the first try for Saints as they took a 16-6 lead at half-time.

Both sides seemed to score at will in a see-saw second-half as defences started to tire but Paul Deacon's penalty on 66 minutes made the score 26-26.

Ian Hardman's kick put Saints head again and, although Deacon kicked one of two drop-goal attempts, Wellens scored his third try to seal victory.

The players were out on their feet after this phenomenal effort which rounds off a busy Easter period for both sides.

But it took until 21 minutes for the first try, Andy Lynch taking advantage of a lucky break to cross from close range.

St Helens went in 16-6 at half-time thanks to tries from, Wellens, Mike Bennett and James Roby.

I thought we were the better team
St Helens coach Ian Millward
But Bradford quickly reduced the deficit after the break when Karl Pryce danced his way through the St Helens defence.

Saints responded when Wellens showed his power and skill to score a try that Hardman converted for a 22-12 lead.

With victory in sight, the home side seemed to relax, allowing Robbie Paul and Lynch to cross for the visitors.

But again the Bulls could not hold on to their lead, Darren Albert touching down after being played in by Sean Long just two minutes later.

With the tension rising, referee Richard Silverwood annoyed the home support by awarding what seemed like a harsh penalty for interference, Deacon firing the kick over to level the scores.

I have nothing but praise for the players
Bradford coach Brian Noble
Hardman then put Saints ahead again after Joe Vagana conceded a penalty only for Deacon kicked a drop goal to reduce the deficit to just one point.

Deacon failed with a second one-pointer which would have levelled the match.

Then man-of-the-match Wellens rubbed salt into Bradford's wounds with the winning score in the dying seconds.

St Helens coach Ian Millward lauded his players' battling qualities after they played their second game in four days.

"I can't believe the players can come up with that standard - they were absolutely fantastic," said Millward.

"I thought we were the better team but a good team like Bradford are never going to go away."

Bradford coach Brian Noble believed his side deserved at least a point.

"We are really disappointed we didn't get anything," said Noble.

"I have nothing but praise for the players. They can walk out of the stadium with their heads held high."


St Helens: Wellens, Gardner, Gilmour, Albert, Hardman, Roby, Long, Fozzard, Cunningham, Mason, V Anderson, Bennett, Wilkin.
Replacements: Graham, P Anderson, Fa'asavalu, Moore.

Bradford: L Pryce, Reardon, Langley, K Pryce, Smith, Harris, Deacon, Vagana, Paul, Fielden, Peacock, Meyers, Radford.
Replacements: Pratt, Cook, Parker, Lynch.

Referee: Richard Silverwood (Dewsbury)




SEE ALSO
Wigan 22-20 St Helens
25 Mar 05 |  Super League
Bradford 12-42 Leeds
25 Mar 05 |  Super League


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