A brace from Ben Barba helped league leaders St. Helens sweep Hull Kingston Rovers aside despite not being on top form.
Just five days after beating holders Hull FC in a classic Challenge Cup quarter-final, the hosts stretched their winning run to eight matches and are now six points clear of second-placed Wigan, who lost at Wakefield on Thursday night.
Ryan Morgan and James Roby scored within the first ten minutes as St Helens made a storming start to the match. Barba then showed why he is Super League’s leading try scorer and Saints led 18-0 at the break, with all three tries converted by the impressive Danny Richardson.
Junior Vaivai did get on the scoresheet for relegation-threatened Rovers with an impressive finish, but the game was long gone by the time he crossed over early in the second half.
The visitors battled well throughout the match, but when Mark Percival got on the end of a kick to score just four minutes after Rovers’ try, it was evident why Rovers are just two points above bottom-placed Widnes.
Barba’s second try added some gloss to the scoreline with a late breakaway and Saints’ star man moved onto 22 tries in all competitions this year, with 19 of those coming in Super League.
All in all, it was another comfortable evening for the glory-bound Saints, but for Hull KR, the future looks bleak as they fell to yet another defeat. This one though was expected.
Justin Holbrook’s men will look to make it nine wins in a row when they travel to seventh-placed Leeds Rhinos next week, whereas Hull KR will be looking to record their first win since the Magic Weekend when they face Castleford Tigers at The Jungle next Sunday.
WHAT WE’VE LEARNED
Saints can rely on Barba
It was a comfortable win for the Saints, but they weren’t as convincing or as clinical as we’ve come accustomed to this season. One man who did show up though, was that man Ben Barba again. Saints definitely aren’t a one-man team, but their 22-try star is definitely their most reliable.
Hull KR need to start winning games quickly
It’s probably stating the obvious, but Rovers just haven’t won enough games this season. Yes, they have been blighted by injuries before a ball was kicked, but winning just four games from seventeen is relegation form.
Make no mistake, they fight until the very end of every match, but unless something major happens, they’re looking at another campaign ending with the million pound game.
Man Of The Match – Ben Barba (St. Helens)
There was no competition for Man of the Match in this one; Ben Barba deserves it hands-down. The Man of Steel to-be shows why he is destined to receive the award on a weekly basis and tonight was no different.
Even when his teammates weren’t at their usual impressive level, he stepped up and delivered two tries at very important stages of the match. Every top side needs a match winner, and Ben Barba is just that for this relentless St. Helens side.
St. Helens 26
Tries: Morgan, Roby, Barba (2), Percival
Goals: Richardson (3)
Drop Goals: n/a
Hull KR 4
Drop Goals: n/a
St Helens: Barba; Makinson, Morgan, Percival, Grace; Fages, Richardson; Amor, Roby, Thompson, Peyroux, Taia, McCarthy-Scarsbrook.
Interchanges: Smith, Douglas, Knowles, Lees.
Hull KR: Quinlan; Shaw, Salter, Vaivai, Wallis; Marsh, Blair; Johnson, Cator, Greenwood, Clarkson, Tickle, Donaldson.
Interchanges: Scruton, Masoe, Kavanagh, Atkin.
Referee: Gareth Hewer (RFL).
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