sport

George treble sinks Saints

Luke George scored his second hat-trick of the season to help Huddersfield to a 17-16 win over St Helens to lift them third in Super League.

George's third try, a 90-metre spectacular created by man of the match Danny Brough, was the highlight of a dramatic second half in which both teams had their chances to take the points.

St Helens, who led 12-4 at half-time, scored their third try through Ade Gardner eight minutes from the end to close the gap to a point but Jonny Lomax failed with the touchline conversion.

Saints have now taken just a point from their last three matches and, more worryingly, lost influential hooker James Roby with a knee injury.

Roby, generally thought to be indestructible, fell into a heap following a tackle from Huddersfield winger Jermaine McGillvary 27 minutes into the match.

He bravely attempted to play on but was forced to hobble a couple of plays later.

Fortunately for Saints, they had a more-than-adequate replacement in the versatile Lance Hohaia, who has played hooker with distinction for New Zealand, and he helped to fill the considerable void.

After watching his side concede 70 points in their previous two matches, St Helens coach Royce Simmons will be delighted with their improved defence but they met their match in the tigerish Giants.

St Helens were shaken by the early enthusiasm of their hosts, who took the lead in the 16th minute when George took Luke Robinson's pass to finished decisively at the corner for his first try.

It took Saints some time to find their rhythm but half-backs Lee Gaskell and Lomax gradually began to boss the game.

It was Gaskell who brought the visitors level in the 28th minute, jinking his way through the Giants defence, and Lomax's conversion edged them ahead for the first time.

The game was still finely balanced when Huddersfield centre Leroy Cudjoe misjudged the pace of Lomax's grubber kick on the last tackle and, after believing the ball was going dead, watched in agony as the Saints scrum-half dived on it for a crucial score.

Lomax's second goal established an eight-point lead but it was down to just two five minutes into the second half when Kevin Brown and Michael Lawrence combined to get George over for his second try and Brough landed the touchline conversion.

Brough missed a chance to level the scores midway through the second half when he put a penalty kick wide but he more than made amends when he set up what proved to be the match-winning try.

The scrum-half collected Gaskell's kick five metres from his own line and bemused the back-pedalling Saints defence on a glorious 50-metre run before finding Scott Grix, who sent George over for his third try.

Brough's conversion was this time successful after the ball amazingly rebounded off both uprights as well as the crossbar and, as if to emphasise, he could do little wrong, he extended his side's lead to five points with a drop goal.

That was to prove decisive when St Helens winger Gardner squeezed over at the corner to make it 17-16, with Lomax's conversion attempt well wide.