St Helens beat Catalans Dragons 26-12 to stretch their winning run to three matches.
The hosts dominated the early proceedings at the Totally Wicked Stadium, with Jonny Lomax and Tommy Makinson getting on the scoreboard within the opening fifteen minutes.
League-leading Saints didn’t risk their star man Ben Barba, who recovered from injury in last week’s win at Salford to make the initial 19-man squad, and Justin Holbrook was right to have faith in his squad as each and every one of the hosts’ players put in quality displays.
In comparison, Catalans Head Coach Steve McNamara will be disappointed by his side’s lack of concentration in the crucial moments of the match.
There was no lack of determination or desire from Catalans- Brayden Wiliame’s try on the half hour showed as much- but Saints’ quality shone through as Morgan Knowles crossed the whitewash to re-establish the home side’s two-score lead less than a minute later.
Lewis Tierney impressed for the travelling Dragons and claimed a deserved try in the latter stages. However, Danny Richardson kicked three of St. Helens’ five tries, far outclassing Tony Gigot.
The Frenchman’s inaccuracy allowed Regan Grace to wrap the game up with his second try of the night with 69 minutes played.
The win sees St. Helens stay top of the Betfred Super League table and will travel south to Widnes Vikings next weekend in high spirits as they will be strong favourites to pick up another two points in the quest for glory this year.
Australian Ben Barba is expected to return to action for the Merseyside club, which will only make their formidable line-up even stronger.
Catalans meanwhile, will be on the road again when they face Salford Red Devils in ten days time in the hope of returning to winning ways.
WHAT WE’VE LEARNED
St. Helens aren’t just a one man team.
As earlier mentioned, Ben Barba was absent from proceedings, and his teammates stepped up to fill the void; Tommy Makinson and Regan Grace put in two particularly eye-catching performances.
Saints fans fed off this and created a brilliant atmosphere which more than matched a very physical encounter. With strength in depth all over the field, this could be a brilliant campaign for St. Helens.
Catalans lack concentration
Just after getting themselves back into a hotly-contested game, the visitors undid all their hard work by gifting Saints a third try of the game in the 32nd minute.
This, as Head Coach Steve McNamara said, is a cardinal sin and is something that you cannot afford to do if you want to be successful.
If the French club can eradicate this from their game, however, they could finish higher up the table than expected when the season started back in February.
Man Of The Match – Regan Grace (St. Helens)
There was only one contender for tonight’s Man of the Match, Regan Grace. The Welsh winger was ultimately the difference between the two sides at the Totally Wicked Stadium.
With blistering pace and quick hands, Grace poses a grave threat to any defence in the Betfred Super League.
Couple this with his impressive spacial awareness on show tonight and the Man of the Match award couldn’t have gone to anyone else.
St. Helens 26
Tries: Lomax, Makinson, Knowles, Grace (2). Goals: Richardson (3).
Drop Goals: n/a
Catalans Dragons 12
Tries: Wiliame, Broughton, Tierney
Drop Goals: n/a
St. Helens: Jonny Lomax,Tommy Makinson, Ryan Morgan, Mark Percival, Regan Grace, Theo Fages, Danny Richardson, Kyle Amor, James Roby, Luke Thompson, Dominique Peyroux, Zeb Taia, Jon Wilkin, Matty Smith, Louie McCarthy- Scarsbrook, Luke Douglas, Morgan Knowles.
Catalans Dragons: Tony Gigot, Jodie Broughton, Vincent Duport, Brayden Wiliame, Lewis Tierney, Samisoni Langi, Joshua Drinkwater, Remi Casty, Michael Mcllorum, Julien Bosquet, Louis Anderson, Benjamin Jullien, Greg Bird, Sam Moa, Jason Baitieri, Antoni Maria, Alrix Da Costa.
Referee: R. Hicks.