St Helens finally clinched the League Leaders Shield with a commanding 38-12 victory over Hull FC at the Totally Wicked Stadium.
With a whole host of first team stars out, Justin Holbrook named a young squad and handed debuts to James Bentley and 17-year old Jack Welsby, as well as a first appearance of the season for Jake Spedding.
However, his side showed little signs of inexperience as they raced into a 12-0 lead after 15 minutes thanks to Mark Percival and Morgan Knowles.
Despite their difficulties in recent weeks, Lee Radford’s men were able to level matters through Jordan Lane’s individual effort and Brad Fash’s surge over, before Luke Thompson put the hosts back in front just before the interval.
Danny Richardson’s boot extended the Saints’ lead to eight shortly after the restart, before Percival’s second and a Regan Grace touchdown gave the home side clear daylight.
However, there was still time for Grace to link up once again with centre Percival to secure his brace in the dying minutes and make it a triumphant 38-12 win for the Merseysiders.
WHAT WE’VE LEARNT
Saints finally get their hands on the prize
It seems like St Helens have been destined to clinch the League Leaders Shield for many weeks now, but a series of scratchy performances have put their celebrations on hold.
Nevertheless, the hosts seemed buoyed by last weekend’s dramatic win over the Catalans Dragons in the South of France and produced a performance of some aplomb here tonight to get their hands on silverware.
The returning Ben Barba was his enigmatic self, while the combination of Mark Percival and Regan Grace was, at times, mesmerising to watch.
The challenge now for the table-toppers is to kick on and refuse to slack off approaching the play-offs; with Justin Holbrook in charge, I don’t think that complacency of that kind will be tolerated.
Let the Rugby do the talking
After a day of much-publicised drama off the field, it seems like a welcome relief to finally concentrate on what really matters; 80 minutes of rugby league action.
Speaking earlier today, Super League Chief Executive Robert Elstone hammered his desire to start promoting all of the games’ great young players in a bid to generate more interest in the sport nationwide.
If he was watching tonight’s contest, the like of Grace, Percival, and Jake Connor, amongst others, are exactly the type of charismatic, skilful characters that our game needs to highlight.