St Helens controversially beat Salford with a winning try from James Bentley coming just four minutes from the end. Here’s everything that happened.
Salford looked to have overcome their dreadful away record at St Helens as they lead 30-16 with just 20 minutes to go but as we all know, you can never write off the Saints.
Saints raced into a 16-0 lead after just 12 minutes. The first try came from a break from Regan Grace, who used a step and a shimmy to evade two Salford players and feed Lachlan Coote to score his first of the match.
It only took a couple of minute for Saints to score their second and it was Coote once again who touched down from a Theo Fages chip over the top.
Tommy Makinson extended their lead to 16-0 with a score in corner and it was Fages with the assist once again.
It looked as if there could have been another Saints demolition job but Salford fought back, with the half-back partnership of Jackson Hastings and Robert Lui at the heart of it.
Gil Dudson started the comeback with a score from a crash ball close to the Saints line.
Niall Evalds then got Salford to within four points after Saints tried to force the play, which ended up in the hands of Derrell Olpherts who then sent Evalds racing towards the try line from 60 metres out.
The best defence in the league looked to be rattled as Saints started to miss tackles left, right and centre. Krisnan Inu took advantage of this as he beat three players to put Salford in the lead at half time.
Lui was starting to run the show after half time and he extended Salford’s lead to 8 after using his footwork to make space for Evalds to score his second.
Coote made an unusual mistake, knocking the ball on just 20 metres from his own line. Saints’ defensive line fell apart once again as Lui scored from the scrum to make it 30-16.
Superb play from Zeb Taia was next, who palmed the ball back inside to Coote to score his third try of the match and to put Saints to within eight points.
The try brought life to the Saints fans who found their voices as one of those famous Saints comebacks looked promising.
Salford bizarrely went for a short kick off, which gave Saints field position. Tommy Makinson capitalised on this as he burst through two Salford defenders to make it 30-26 to Salford.
With three minutes to go, James Bentley scored from close range to win the game for Saints. Referee Scott Mikalauskas went to the screen and it looked as if Bentley lost control as he went to score but video referee James Child deemed there not to be enough evidence to overturn the decision.
Salford can mix it with the best
Their result away to Warrington showed that they can give the big boys a run for their money. They were by far the better side for 60 minutes, with just the first and last ten minutes letting them down. Head coach Ian Watson has done a sublime job and it would be a real shame if Salford were to lose a few of their top players.
Is it time to scrap the on-field try/no-try decision? A lot of fans were in agreement on social media after the game that Bentley’s winner should not have been given. I think if the on-field decision wasn’t in place then it wouldn’t have been given.
Slight concern for Saints
Since their stunning Easter period, Saints have not been at the standard they are used to. They were pretty ordinary in the first half against Hull KR. Their performance in the Cup was their worst performance of the season and they were even worse against Salford.
A lot of the credit at Salford has to go to Ian Watson. At the start of the year, people were tipping Salford to be in the relegation battle but they genuinely could be in the play-offs come the end of the season. Of course, having superstars like Jackson Hastings and Robert Lui help but players like Josh Jones and Derrell Olpherts have come on leaps and bounds under him.
St Helens 32
Tries: Coote 3, Makinson 2, Bentley
Goals: Coote 4
Drop Goals: n/a
Tries: Evalds 2, Dudson, Olpherts, Lui
Goals: Lui 5
Drop Goals: n/a
St Helens: Coote, Swift, Makinson, Costello, Grace; Lomax, Fages; Lees, Smith, Walmsley, Peyroux, Taia, Knowles.
Interchanges: Paulo, Amor, Ashworth, Bentley
Salford Red Devils: Evalds, Olpherts, Inu, Welham, Sio; Lui, Hastings; Mossop, Lussick, Dudson, Jones, Griffin, Burke.
Interchanges: Walker, McCarthy, Murray, Pauli