St Helens have won four from four in 2019 after winning comfortably 26-4 at Salford.
Justin Holbrook made one change to his St Helens side that beat Leeds Rhinos last week. Matty Costello came in for Kevin Naiqama.
Salford coach Ian Watson was forced to make a late change to his side just before kick-off. Daniel Murray replaced George Griffin, who suffered a torn hamstring in the warm-up. Ben Nakubuwai returned to the squad after missing their win at Hull KR.
The Red Devils were dealt a blow in the opening minutes as captain Lee Mossop left the field with a knock and didn’t return.
St Helens took a comfortable 16-0 lead into the break thanks to tries from Mark Percival, Jonny Lomax and James Roby.
Derrell Olpherts pulled one back for Salford in the 54th minute, but Saints went over just moments later through Regan Grace.
Roby sealed the 26-4 win for Saints late on as he went over for his second.
Three talking points
Saints’ halves control the game
Theo Fages and Jonny Lomax were superb for St Helens and they controlled the game from start to finish.
They have built up an impressive combination in the first four rounds of Super League and they bounce ideas off each other. Fages’ organisational skills allow Lomax to enjoy his running game.
Fages attracts defenders to him, which creates space for back-rowers to charge through. He came up with a couple of neat kicks for Saints in what was a standout display from the France international.
Salford injuries take their toll
The Red Devils have a very thin squad this year, with coach Watson having just 25 players to choose from when they are all fit.
And injuries got the better of them before the game even started. Griffin was forced to withdraw from the squad in the warm-up after suffering a hamstring. Skipper Mossop was taken off just seven minutes into the action and key man Jackson Hastings left the field late on for a concussion assessment.
Salford back-rower Jansin Turgut also suffered an injury in the game. It’s not an ideal situation for Salford, but whose squad looks stretched just over a month into the season.
Roby impresses again
What more can be said about Roby, really? He will go down as one of the greatest ever St Helens players and rightly so. There isn’t much more than can be said about the England international.
The 33-year-old is one all of the all-time greats. He just doesn’t seem to slow down, despite coming towards the end of his career.
With the way Roby is going, he could genuinely still be playing this time in four years. Saints are lucky to have him, and he is a fantastic role model.
Line-ups and ratings
Salford: Evalds (6); Olpherts (6), Welham (5), Sa’u (6), Sio (6); Lui (6), Hastings (8); Mossop (4), Lussick (6), Dudson (6), Jones (7), Turgut (6), Murray (5). Subs: McCarthy (7), Nakubuwai (6), Burke (5), Tomkins (6).
Tries: Olpherts Goals: Sio 0/1
St Helens: Coote (8); Makinson (7), Costello (6), Percival (8), Grace (7); Lomax (9), Fages (9); Walmsley (7), Roby (9), Thompson (7), Taia (7), Peyroux (7), Knowles (8). Subs: Lees (7), McCarthy-Scarsbrook (7), Paulo (7), Amor (6).
Tries: Percival, Lomax, Roby, Grace, Roby Goals: Coote 3/5
St Helens are my tip to win the Super League Grand Final this year (sorry Saints fans, it probably won’t happen now!).
Joking aside, Holbrook has established a fantastic team at the Saints this year. Eyebrows were raised when he decided to choose Fages over Danny Richardson at the start of the season, but the Frenchman is repaying Holbrook’s faith, that’s for sure.
As for Salford, these games are not the ones they need to win. The games against teams in the bottom half of the table are the big ones for the Red Devils.