St Helens outlined their early season title credentials with a 38-8 win at Warrington.
New half-back signing Luke Walsh put in a masterful display, his kicking game doing much of the damage as the visitors racked up a 16 point advantage by half time.
After barely threatening for silverware last season, Walsh could prove to be the jewel in the crown on this showing, and he rubbed salt in the Wolves’ wounds with a 50m interception try to round off the scoring.
By the end, it was hard to believe that it was actually Warrington who took the lead, gifted possession on just the second tackle by a Jordan Turner knock-on, and they took full advantage. A slick passing move sent the ball right, and Chris Bridge‘s pass sent Joel Monaghan sliding in at the corner.
But after finding their feet, a clinical seven minute spell before the quarter mark put Saints firmly in control.
Turner atoned for his earlier error, taking on the line after taking a Walsh pass and popping out a fine one handed offload for Tommy Makinson to touch down.
A penalty early in the tackle count got Saints back up the field, and they made it back-to-back scores. Gary Wheeler, preferred at stand-off to former Kiwi international Lance Hohaia, took on the line, stepped and put James Roby crashing over by the posts.
Warrington were left shellshocked, and they went in to half time with their tails well and truly between their legs, Walsh tagging on a penalty late in the half for 20-4 at the break.
Any hopes of a Wolves second half comeback were soon quashed when Anthony Laffranchi wiggled his way over under the posts just two minutes after the restart.
The game turned scrappy for a spell, Saints neglecting to take a number of penalty opportunities that would have left Warrington needing five scores to comeback, but they were never really threatened.
The next score did go to Warrington, Gareth O’Brien’s towering kick coming down off the post pad. The half-back scooped up the loose ball and then fed Joel Monaghan for a walk-in and his second try.
Saints weren’t finished though, and after Makinson made a break down the right, Adam Swift crossed for a try in the opposite corner, and the visiting fans brought the house down when, three minutes from time, Walsh pickpocketed a pass and waltzed over for a 50m interception that just about summed up a dream debut and a dream start to the season for Nathan Brown’s side.
Warrington: Ratchford, C Riley, Bridge, Atkins, J Monaghan, M Monaghan, Myler, Hill, Higham, Asotasi, Waterhouse, Westwood, Currie. Interchanges: B Evans, Laithwaite, O’Brien, G Riley.
Tries: J Monaghan (2, 68)
Goals: Ratchford 0/1, O’Brien 0/1
St Helens: Lomax, Makinson, Turner, Percival, Swift, Wheeler, Walsh, Walmsley, Roby, Amor, Wilkin, Manu, McCarthy-Scarsbrook. Interchanges: Laffranchi, Soliola, Jones, Wellens.
Tries: Makinson (13), Roby (16), Amor (19), Laffranchi (42), Swift (73), Walsh (77)
Goals: Walsh 7/7