St Helens kicked off the restarted Super League with a 34-6 victory over Catalans Dragons behind closed doors at Headingley.
The game was played with cardboard cutout ‘fans in the stand’ at Headingley, and with artificial crowd noise, which added an atmosphere to Sky Sports’ TV broadcast.
The star for St Helens was fullback Lachlan Coote, who scored two tries and kicked five goals in a performance that delighted Saints coach Kristian Woolf.
“I’m really happy,” said Woolf afterwards.
“I said all week I thought we came back good, we trained exceptionally well and we were expecting a good performance.
“They’re a good side and they certainly threw plenty at us, but our contact and our defence and the attitude showed was really good.”
And Woolf was particularly happy with the return of Great Britain and England international James Graham.
“You could see the excitement from Jammer to be back in Saints colours. He’s been terrific from day one.
“I don’t think you can have anybody better to help young players become better players.
“He’s got a real win-at-all-costs attitude and he’s tough, that’s why he’s got such a good history in the game.”
Prior to the game, the players from both sides ‘took a knee’ in support of the Black Lives Matter movement, although Catalans centre Israel Folau was the only player not to join in the players’ action.
Catalans coach Steve McNamara, when asked about Folau’s decision not to take a knee pre-match, was guarded in his response.
“As a whole club we are completely against racism and for equal opportunity. Some players and staff chose not to take the knee – that was personal choice and as a group we respected personal choice,” he said.
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