Ben Barba scored a hat-trick as St. Helens hammered Salford 10-60- despite having a men sent off- to extend their league at the Betfred Super League summit.
The visitors notched eleven tries at the AJ Bell Stadium and could have secured a healthier margin, had Danny Richardson been more accurate with his kicking.
The hosts got off to the worst possible start when they let Tommy Makinson cross over the whitewash with less than four minutes on the clock. Two further tries in as many minutes saw Saints lead 16-0 with just over a quarter of an hour played.
The only negative for Justin Holbrook was Ben Barba being stretchered off with an injury. This came after Tyrone McCarthy brought about one of few positives from a terrible night for the Red Devils when he scored what already looked like a consolation try in the 28th minute.
Saints scored five second half tries, which included Barba sealing his hatrick, before Kris Welham notched a last-minute try to get on the scoreboard. The visitors however, have the last laugh and ensured that their fans make the journey West with smiles on their faces.
The win saw St. Helens score 60+ points for the second successive game and take their points difference to a remarkable +276.
They are now four points clear of of Wigan Warriors at the helm of the Betfred Super League, albeit having played two more matches than their fierce rivals.
WHAT WE’VE LEARNED
Salford are inconsistent
Having won their last two games, Salford will have brought a lot of confidence into tonight’s fixture, but their poor defending and lack of concentration left a lot to be desired.
Their attack didn’t look as sharp as they have done in previous matches and if they want to challenge for a Super 8s spot, they’ll definitely have to show higher levels of consistency.
St Helens are the team to beat
No other side in this season’s Super League would have come to Salford on a cold, windy night and beat them by a margin of 50 points. But this St Helens side are special.
They have strength in depth wherever you look; from Barba at full-back to Matty Lees at prop, they seem to have no weak spot.
If they carry on this kind of form and keep players fit, we could witness a clean sweep this season.
Man Of The Match – Ben Barba (St. Helens)
It’s not often that we rave about one player so much after just 13 games of a Super League campaign, but when that player has scored 15 tries in that time, it’s really hard not to.
Ben Barba was brilliant for Saints yet again tonight and, if it wasn’t for his injury, he may have threatened to get a double hat-trick.
The Aussie fullback is in his second season at St. Helens and he could be the man to fire them to glory this year.
Justin Holbrook discussing Ben Barba injury concerns post game*- “First and foremost we want to check that Ben is alright and hopefully he’ll be okay. Hopefully the stretcher was just a precaution, the doctors know what they’re doing and are highly trained so we trust their judgement.”
Salford Red Devils 10
Tries: McCarthy, Welham
Goals: Shorrocks 1/2
Drop Goals: n/a
St Helens 60
Tries: Makinson, Peyroux, Barba 3, Morgan 2, Grace 2, Percival, Fages
Goals: Richardson 8/11
Drop Goals: n/a
Salford Red Devils: Evalds, Johnson, Sa’u, Welham, Bibby, Shrorrocks, Littlejohn, Mossop, Tomkins, Burgess, Griffin, Lannon, Flanagan.
St. Helens: Barba, Makinson, Morgan, Percival, Grace, Lomax, Richardson, Amor, Smith, Thompson, Peyroux, Taia, Wilkin.
Referee: C. Kendall.
*Quotes taken from Sky Sports’ live coverage of the match.