Matty Costello was the fourth Saints player to score a hat-trick in three games as Saints beat the Catalans Dragons 50-14 at the Totally Wicked Stadium.
With the amount of influential Saints players out, Catalans were the favourites going in to the match and got off to the best possible start, with Brayden Williame opened the scoring for the Dragons.
David Mead was taken off the field on a stretcher after he collided with an airborne Regan Grace.
Saints were not behind for long when Dom Peyroux grubbered through for it to be kicked on by Kevin Naiqama and touched down by Adam Swift.
The returning Theo Fages put Saints further ahead by taking it to the line and putting Zeb Taia through a gap to extend Saints’ lead.
Aaron Smith then scored a try which was reminiscent of young James Roby by going through the grasps of three Catalans players to score underneath the sticks. Joseph Paulo took exception to Sam Tomkins’ late effort on Smith by pushing him over, which resulted him missing the last ten minutes of the half with a sin-binning.
This proved to be costly to Saints as Catalans took advantage, with Williame scoring his second just before half time to make it 16-10.
Theo Fages put their lead back to 12 shortly after the break with a close range effort.
Saints were starting to dominate and a flick pass from Danny Richardson put Swift into space, who then beat four players to set up Peyroux with another classy pass.
Costello scored his first try and it was Richardson and Peyroux who were the creators again. They combined to put Fages into space who then floated a pass out 15 metres to put Costello in the corner.
Catalans put themselves in contention with a controversial try as Lewis Tierney scored from a pass which looked to be a couple of yards forward.
Youngster Jack Welsby was a menace all game, making over 160 metres in his first game in his preferred position of full back and he got a well-deserved try from a Richardson grubber.
Alex Walmsley got a rare try assist as he ran laterally across the defensive line to set up Costello for his second.
The game started to become a rout as Costello scored a hat-trick to take Saints to 50 points.
Saints youngsters shine
Saints’ strength in depth was talked about after the Hull game but it deserves to be mentioned again. Aaron Smith was given man of the match while England academy international Jack Welsby showed that Saints’ full back position is safe for years to come, with a performance way beyond his years. Championship young player of the year, Matty Costello, also put in his best performance in a Saints shirt.
Headache for Holbrook
With Jonny Lomax out, Theo Fages partnered Danny Richardson in the halves and it was by far Richardson’s best game this season. He had a hand in over half of Saints’ tries whilst also taking the ball closer to the Catalans defensive line, which has been a criticism of his. Justin Holbrook has a dilemma now when it comes to who to play in the halves.
As good as Saints were, Catalans performance was dreadful. A team which has the likes of Sam Tomkins, Tony Gigot and Sam Kasiano should not be getting beat by that scoreline with the side Saints had out. Once again, it is their away form which lets them down.
This is the first round to be played since the mid-week rule changes and it made a huge difference. The rucks were much clearer with a lot less play-acting, which can only be a positive for the game.
Tries: Swift, Taia, Smith, Fages, Costello 3, Fages, Peyroux, Welsby
Goals: Richardson 7
Drop Goals: n/a
Catalans Dragons 16
Tries: Williame 2, Tierney
Goals: Tomkins 2
Drop Goals: n/a
St Helens: Welsby, Swift, Naiqama, Costello, Grace, Fages, Richardson, Walmsley, Smith, Lees, Taia, Peyroux, Paulo.
Interchanges: Amor, Ashworth, Bentley, Batchelor
Catalans Dragons: Gigot, Mead, Langi, Williame, Tierney, Tomkins, Smith, Bousquet, Da Costa, Moa, Goudemond, Whitley, Casty
Interchanges: Edwards, Simon, Baitieri, Kasiano