Sykes stuns Saints

PA Sport
Paul Sykes won the game for Wakefield with a late drop goal
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Paul Sykes won the game for Wakefield with a late drop goal

A late Paul Sykes drop-goal ensured Wakefield continued their late push towards the Super League play-off places with a thrilling 33-32 victory over high-flying St Helens.

Lee Smith and Danny Kirmond scored two tries apiece for the hosts, but Saints responded with a Francis Meli hat-trick and Paul Wellens double. That saw them claw back a deficit which had at one point reached 14 points, but it was all in vain as Sykes had the final say.

The game ebbed and flowed between both sides, and it was the visitors who grabbed the first points of an amazing afternoon after just 27 seconds when Tony Puletua got on the end of a sublime break from winger Meli to leave the home crowd stunned.

The Wildcats responded well after that early setback as Smith dashed in at the corner, Sykes adding the extras to give the home side a slender 6-4 lead, before Sykes' half-back partner Tim Smith's clever kick was pounced upon by Andy Raleigh to give Richard Agar's men an eight-point cushion.

That did not last for long, though, as the flurry of points continued when Jonny Lomax's grubber kick was pounced upon by Meli, but Tommy Makinson again pushed his touchline conversion wide to leave Saints four points behind.

However, that margin was soon extended as Kirmond grabbed a quickfire double of his own to put the Wildcats firmly in control.The points kept on coming, this time to the visitors, who grabbed a crucial score just before the interval to haul themselves back into the contest after Paul Wellens latched onto Lomax's neat inside ball.

After the visitors opted against kicking on the final tackle, Andrew Dixon raced clear before finding Meli with a fantastic long pass, the winger racing in for his second to give Saints real hope. Mike Rush's side regained the lead just before the hour mark when Wellens grabbed his second, hitting yet another inside ball to glide his way through the defence.

The home side responded yet again though, courtesy of Smith's second, but Sykes pushed his touchline conversion wide to leave the sides deadlocked at 26-26. The pendulum then swung once again just as the game was heading into the final 10 minutes, this time in favour of the home side.

After Lomax was penalised for dissent, the Wildcats took full advantage again when Kyle Wood raced over from dummy-half to give Wakefield a six-point lead to cling on to. But Saints were not done, and Meli secured a sublime hat-trick when he raced through some weak Wakefield defending, Makinson adding the extras to tie the game up again at 32-32.

The Wildcats tried desperately to land the decisive blow, but both Smith and Sykes missed with gilt-edged drop-goal opportunities before the latter nailed the winning point right on the hooter to secure a famous victory.

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