|3rd Jun 2006||PCC6 ||HOME||8319||HT:6-20|
|Age in brackets is at time of match - Total average age for this team is 26. - ** non-playing sub|
MATCH REPORT : Saints became the first team into the Powergen Challenge Cup semi-finals after a comfortable 56-10 win over Les Catalans Dragons.
The margin of victory could have been much greater, with Saints having two tries disallowed and failing to finish off several breaks, but they still scored ten tries.
Ade Gardner scored his first Saints hat-trick, while Sean Long, Leon Pryce, Jon Wilkin, Vinnie Anderson and namesake Paul all touched down; Saints� prop forward�s brace were his first tries since scoring a double against Leigh last September.
The rest of Saints points were contributed by Australian centre Jamie Lyon, with a try and eight conversions.
However the points avalanche took a while to materialise as Les Catalans� defence withstood Saints� early pressure.
The initial battle was for physical supremacy, with Keiron Cunningham and Paul Anderson ensuring there was to be no repeat of Easter Monday�s Super League fixture when the French forwards repeatedly pounded the Saints defence.
Long opened the scoring with some quick footwork, just two minutes after Gardner had failed to ground the ball over the try line.
But Les Catalans responded after Saints failed to deal with the restart, New Zealand scrum-half Stacey Jones jinking through a hole to score.
The conversion from Laurent Frayssinous gave the Dragons a slender lead, but they could only hold on for five minutes, before Gardner touched down in the corner after Saints ran it on the final tackle.
Leon Pryce thought he had scored, but his effort was disallowed for a double movement, but Saints� superiority was beginning to show as Les Catalans struggled to keep up with Saints� speed.
That was clear in the rising penalty count, with referee warning captain Jones after his side conceded their eighth penalty. Saints handed out their own punishment, with Paul Anderson charging over from short range after Long�s quick tap penalty.
The game was effectively won when Wilkin blocked Jones�s grubber on his own 10 metre line, Pryce collected the loose ball and sprinted over halfway. The ball was moved through James Graham, Long, Lyon and finally to Gardner, who touched down for a fantastic try.
As in the first half, the Dragons were able to match Saints in the opening exchanges, only conceding one further try, through Paul Anderson.
30 points in the final 23 minutes gave the scoreline a deserved gloss, with the Dragons only able to score once more, when Justin Murphy capitalised on a fumble to race 80 metres to score.
Although Saints have an impressive attacking record at home, averaging 38 points a game, it is the Challenge Cup where they have been especially prolific, scoring 154 points in just three games.
The margin of victory, though, was secondary, with the focus solely on a safe passage into Tuesday�s semi-final draw. This was achieved, to extend Saints� record of qualifying for the semi-finals to six consecutive years.
Saints: Paul Wellens, Ade Gardner, Jamie Lyon, Willie Talau, Francis Meli, Leon Pryce, Sean Long, Jason Cayless, Keiron Cunningham, Paul Anderson, Lee Gilmour, Paul Sculthorpe, Jason Hooper.
Subs: Vinnie Anderson, Jon Wilkin, Maurie Fa�asavalu, James Graham.
T: Gardner (3), P Anderson (2), Long, Wilkin, Pryce, Lyon, V Anderson.
G: Lyon (8/10).
Dragons: Renaud Guigue, Justin Murphy, John Wilson, Mark Hughes, Bruno Verges, Laurent Frayssinous, Stacey Jones, Adel Fellous, Julian Rinaldi, Jerome Guisset, Pascal Jumpy, Jamal Fakir, Ian Hindmarsh.
Subs: Alex Chan, Christopher Beattie, David Berthezene, Sean Rudder.
T: Jones, Murphy.
G: Frayssinous (1/2).
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