SAINTS SMASH SORRY SALFORD

St Helens ran in ten tries as they thrashed Salford 52-6 at the AJ Bell Stadium.

Mark Percival, Jordan Turner and Joe Greenwood scored two tries apiece while Luke Thompson, Tommy Makinson, Louie McCarthy-Scarsbrook and Andre Savelio scored one each.

Percival added six goals to take his personal tally to 20 points as Keiron Cunningham’s men made it two wins from two at the start of Super League XX.

A miserable night for the Red Devils was compounded by injuries to Cory Paterson, Kevin Locke and Michael Dobson, while Gareth Hock was sin-binned by referee Ben Thaler.

An impressive and professional first half display put the Saints in control. In the opening ten minutes they withstood Salford’s intensity and took the lead through Percival’s first try in the right-hand corner. A Jonny Lomax pass to Adam Swift enabled the winger to make good metres down field before being tackled. Saints switched the ball from left to right with the Red Devils scrambling back and Percival left both Mason Caton-Brown and Ben Jones-Bishop in his wake as he crossed the try line.

The hosts didn’t make the most of their attacking sets in St Helens’ territory. After being awarded a penalty for offside, Dobson tried flinging a long pass out to the left flank to find Jones-Bishop, but the off season addition from Leeds had moved in-field off the touchline and possession was handed back to the champions.

Only a minute later Saints were in again, on the back of breaks from Greenwood and Atelea Vea. Turner received the ball on the left with Swift on his outside, the ex-Salford player threw a dummy and sauntered over the line to extend the advantage to eight points, with Travis Burns missing the first conversion and Percival missing the second.

Two minutes later the visitors tightened their grip on the game still further. Paterson was penalised for holding down Kyle Amor which set the platform for Greenwood’s first score. A dummy from dummy-half James Roby only a matter of metres from the Salford line was bought by the defenders in the near vicinity, and a short pass to Greenwood allowed the forward to crash through an off-balance Kevin Locke. Percival converted this time to give Kieron Cunningham’s men a 14-0 lead.

To make matters worse for Iestyn Harris, Cory Paterson came off with an injury to his left shoulder just before Greenwood’s try.

Jones-Bishop scored an excellent try to get the hosts back into the game. He gathered a Makinson kick on the bounce and went over 60 metres to score, showing neat footwork to round Alex Walmsley on the way. Salford then enjoyed a short spell of possession near the Saints line, which led to Kieron Cunningham bringing McCarthy-Scarsbrook,  Savelio and Thompson on off the bench.

It paid dividends too as Thompson grabbed a try four minutes from half-time. Vea, McCarthy-Scarsbrook and Savelio had all gone close in the set before 19 year-old Thompson barged over despite the attentions of Jordan Walne. Percival’s conversion made it 20-6 in Saints’ favour at the break.

Makinson got the second half scoring underway just two minutes after the break in the right hand corner and ten minutes later the game was all but over when Percival grabbed his second try of the night. It came after a huge, spiralling bomb by Jon Wilkin was dropped by Jones-Bishop, the ball then bounced into the in goal area and back over the reach of Caton-Brown before 20 year-old Percival touched down for his second try of the match.

Two minutes later McCarthy-Scarsbrook grabbed himself a try on the back of a Tommy Lee knock on that gifted possession back to Saints. Wilkin provided the short ball and the big prop crashed over through a defence that already looked well beaten.

Just past the hour the away side hit the 40 point mark, again scoring on the back of a penalty. Darrell Griffin penalised for pulling Kyle Amor’s hair after the tackle had been completed as the hosts began to lose their discipline. Greenwood bagged his second try of the game, forcing his way over from all of three metres out.

Salford’s night was capitulating dramatically as both Michael Dobson and Kevin Locke left the field with injuries and Gareth Hock found himself in the sin bin. The former Wigan player appeared to drive his knee into the face of Mose Masoe when the Samoan international was on the ground having been tackled. Hock was already on report for committing the same offence on Makinson eight minutes earlier and Thaler had no option but to brandish the yellow card.

Turner claimed his second try of the game on 66 minutes in the left hand corner after Roby gave the ball to Wilkin and the St Helens captain gave the ball to the centre who bounced it down on the try line. The try was awarded by the video referees and Percival converted from the touchline.

Savelio completed the rout with his second try in as many games after Percival did well to catch a high cross-field kick from Wilkin before popping the ball up for the 19 year-old who strolled in to bring up the 50.

The victory is St Helens’ tenth straight Super League win over Salford since May 2010 and was the perfect preparation for the World Club Challenge match against South Sydney a week on Sunday.

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