Justin Holbrook: Ben Barba was really good and young lads did me proud

Photo courtesy of Richard Long

St Helens coach Justin Holbrook heaped praise on Ben Barba and his younger players following their win at Warrington.

The Saints put in a clinical second half display to beat the Wolves 34-14 in a dress rehearsal of the semi-final play-off at the Halliwell Jones Stadium on Saturday.

Barba scored two tries in a man of the match performance and Holbrook heaped praise on the Man of Steel favourite.

Speaking after the game, Holbrook said: “It is hard when you are playing the same side against in two weeks, it has been an awkward week.

“I have defended Benny over the last six or eight weeks for good reason. He has had some niggling injuries that he has needed to get over and he showed what he is capable of today. Jonny Lomax was also brilliant and Benny did some good things.

“Once the physios assured me that the injuries had gone, I was confident that he would get back to the top. When you are one of those elite players, if you are not 100%, you can’t do the things that you normally do because you just go back to the pack like everyone else. He was really good today.

“We have played well all year and we just wanted to carry that on. We didn’t want to let ourselves down and we played well, scored some good tries and defended well, so I am really happy with the performance.”

Young forwards Matty Lees, Jack Ashworth and James Bentley also featured in the game and Holbrook spoke highly of the trio.

He added: “Matty Lees, Jack Ashworth and James Bentley played big minutes and they were out on the field a lot longer than they normally are.

“It was great for their development and great for the club. Ashworth is a great young player. He has worked really hard for us this year and has done some good things for us. He did big minutes and was off his feet for a long time but it is good for him.

“I’m happy with our second half performance but also we need to put into context that they didn’t have too many of their strike players on.”

Holbrook revealed that James Roby, Kyle Amor and Louie McCarthy-Scarsbrook could return for their final Super 8s fixture against Castleford Tigers.

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