WINNINGTON Park were left to count the cost of a bruising encounter with Ruskin Park on Saturday.
Coach Roger Pickering felt the match official did not protect his players, with James Johnson’s involvement ended early by a high tackle before Alex Glendinning suffered a broken nose.
“The referee should have been stronger than he was,” he said.
“We felt he lost control, and luckily my players did not retaliate despite being provoked.”
The visitors quickly established a lead when Jack Williams, who travelled directly to St Helens from the airport after returning from a skiing holiday, gathered his own kick forward.
After recycling possession, Jamie Pugh darted to the line despite several defenders’ attempts to stop him.
Williams converted, then added a penalty to make it 10-0.
Ruskin responded and touched down twice in quick succession, both converted by Adam Fogarty.
Johnson, who had been a thorn in the hosts’ side, was then forced off.
Prop Alex Snasdell was injured too after an alleged stamp, but the perpetrator escaped any punishment.
Winnington edged ahead again early in the second period when a slick move ended with Danny Williams ghosting to the line.
His brother duly added the extras.
They proceeded to spend most of the game’s remainder in their opponents’ half, only to be frustrated by Ruskin’s robust defence.
The St Helen’s outfit snatched a victory in the closing stages when they punished a lapse in concentration on Winnington’s right flank to notch a try out wide.
Fogarty’s conversion settled the outcome.
Pickering added: “We ought to have been more clinical to put the game out of their reach, but our final pass never went to hand.”
Park | Ridgway, Johnson, Snasdell, Crosby, Josh Brown, Treacy, Glendinning, Danny Williams, Pugh, Brookes, Lamb, Lewis Pickering, Allmark, Owens, Jack Williams Replacements Nick Brown, Phillips, Gareth Williams Tries Pugh, Danny Williams Cons Jack Williams (2) Pen Jack Williams