Salford outline play-off credentials with St Helens battering


Salford returned to the Super League top six with a stunning dismantling of defending champions St Helens.

Tries from Sitaleki Akauola, Joe Burgess, Dan Sarginson and Kallum Watkins had the Red Devils 26-0 up at half time in the sunshine at the AJ Bell Stadium.

Salford exploited Saints’ weaknesses out wide with a breathtaking attacking display that suggests they could, on their day, take out anyone should they reach the play-offs.

They had lost their Super League top six berth following Hull’s win at Toulouse on Friday, while Leeds’ come-behind-win at Catalans had seen them slip to eighth.

But they regained the spot in some style, with Australian half-back Brodie Croft in sparkling form.

The win was all the more impressive given Salford have been badly hit by injuries this season and could only name an 18-man squad on Friday. However, they welcomed back Sarginson for the first time since he suffered a shoulder injury in March.

In-form full-back Ryan Brierley was missing after he failed a head assessment during the win in Toulouse a week ago while utility forward Danny Addy is expected to miss the rest of the season. Sitaleki Akauola and Sam Luckley were available again for Salford after serving bans.

Morgan Knowles was back in the Saints line-up after suspension though Dan Norman missed out through injury and Sione Mata’utia continues to serve a ban. James Roby switched from hooker to half-back, partnering Jonny Lomax meaning a rare start for Joey Lussick against his former club.

Salford came into the game looking for a third successive victory for the first time this season after beating Toulouse Olympique and Catalans Dragons in recent weeks. They could not have dreamed for a better start, scoring three times in the first quarter.

Prop Akauola scored to the left of the uprights after taking a pass in the tackle from Alex Gerrard in the 12th minute and Sneyd added the conversion.

Salford scored their second try just a few minutes later as Brodie Croft’s pass to the left edge found Tim Lafai who in turn sent his winger Burgess flying in at the corner. Sneyd was unable to add the extras.

The onslaught from the home side was relentless as Saints struggled to even get out of their own half. Salford got their third try when Lafai and Burgess linked superbly to send Sarginson over and Sneyd sent over the conversion to make it 16-0.

With 14 minutes of the half remaining, Salford scored again and once again it was Croft doing the spadework with a huge looping pass to the right edge which found Ken Sio who in turn fed Watkins for a superb try. There was no goal from Sneyd but Salford were 20-0 up.

Moments before half-time, Burgess scored his second try, breaking clear just inside the Salford half after taking a pass from Chris Atkin and he finished with style, cutting infield to make the conversion easier for Sneyd who duly obliged.

Sneyd had the chance to add another couple of points on the stroke of half-time but his long-range penalty attempt fell short.

Salford showed they were in no mood to simply defend their lead after the restart as they made an enterprising start, eager to keep the ball alive at every opportunity.

With 12 minutes of the second half played, the Red Devils scored their sixth try. A bullet pass from Andy Ackers at dummy half found Greg Burke hitting the ball at speed, scoring with his first touch of the ball. Sneyd added the conversion to make it 32-0.

Saints scored their first try of the game in the 62nd minute when Welsby broke clear from 30 metres out. Lussick added the conversion.

The try proved a minor speed bump for rampant Salford as they replied with two tries in six minutes. The ball was brilliantly kept alive, switching from one side of the pitch to the other and Watkins was on hand to score a try which Sneyd converted.

With 11 minutes remaining, arguably the try of the game as Lafai made a powerful break through the heart of the Saints defence and he unselfishly passed to Croft who scored under the posts. Sneyd again added the goal.

Salford were reduced to 12 men after Elijah Taylor was sent to the sin-bin four minutes from the end and Saints were quick to capitalise on the extra man for a consolation try, scoring through Walmsley. Jon Bennison added the conversion.

MORE: The most potent attack in Super League: Why Salford are firing

Salford: Cross, Sio, Sarginson, Lafai, Burgess, Croft, Sneyd, Akauola, Ackers, Ormondroyd, Taylor, Watkins, Gerrard. Subs: Burke, Lannon, Atkin, Luckley.

St Helens: Welsby, Bennison, Hurrell, Davies, Grace, Lomax, Roby, Walmsley, Lussick, Lees, Sironen, Batchelor, Knowles. Subs: McCarthy-Scarsbrook, Paasi, Bell, Wingfield.