After much promise and being early-season favourites, Saints’ year ended in disappointment. Here is a look at their season.
2018 Club Record
Competition Points: 52
2018 Player Achievements
Most Tries: Ben Barba (28)
Most Points: Danny Richardson (287)
St Helens ended the 2017 season just thirty seconds away from a Grand Final appearance despite a dour start. Coach Justin Holbrook had confidence in his side and only made one new signing with youngster James Bentley signing from Bradford.
The Saints started the season with an emphatic 46-6 defeat of previous year’s grand finalists Castleford Tigers and this was a sign of what was to come. They played some scintillating rugby with full back Ben Barba the catalyst as they became ‘the entertainers’ once again. High points included beating Wigan in the Good Friday derby for the first time since 2009 and Danny Richardson kicking a last minute penalty from 55 metres against Warrington to extend a winning run to 14.
Despite their winning streak, Saints were showing signs that a defeat was on the way. Barba had lost form as rumours were rife about his future at the club. They were finally defeated in their Challenge Cup semi-final clash against Catalans after an embarrassing first half performance led to 27 unanswered points. Then in their play off at home, a late Tom Lineham try left them with only a League Leaders Shield in the trophy cabinet. The team from a town famous for glass making well and truly bottled it. Twice.
Despite ending the season disappointingly, there are many reasons for why St Helens fans should remain positive. Firstly, the young front-row duo of Matty Lees and Jack Ashworth stood up at the back end of the season with the former gaining glowing praise from England Knights coach Paul Anderson for his performances against Papua New Guinea. Luke Thompson showed he was arguably the best prop in Super League leading from the front in the absence of Alex Walmsley who broke his neck early against Warrington in round five. Tommy Makinson showed his capabilities on the highest stage with his performances against New Zealand resulting in him winning the Golden Boot and Brad Fittler now knowing his name.
NothingButLeague Player of the Season
Ben Barba – A hard decision which could have easily have gone to Thompson or the consistent James Roby. His early season form was breath-taking with some of the best individual performances and tries Super League has ever seen.
2019 GAINS AND LOSSES
Joe Batchelor (York City Knights, 2021) Lachlan Coote (North Queensland Cowboys, 2021) Wes Naqaima (Wests Tigers, 2021) Joseph Paulo (Cronulla Sharks, 2021)
Ben Barba (North Queensland Cowboys) Rob Fairclough (Swinton Lions) Ben Morris (Rochdale Hornets) Matty Smith (Catalans Dragons) Jake Spedding (Barrow Raiders) Jon Wilkin (Toronto Wolfpack)