St Helens cruised to a convincing victory tonight, winning 48-8 against their Grand Final opponents Salford Red Devils at the Totally Wicked Stadium to throw down the gauntlet to their rivals, making it clear that they are in the mood to repeat their dominance of Super League from last season.
Salford took an early lead when St Helens youngster Jack Welsby fell foul of the tightened play-the-ball rules, and Tui Lolohea kicked the penalty.
But the rest of the first half belonged largely to St Helens, with three tries to Zeb Taia, Alex Walmsley and Theo Fages, with Lachlan Coote adding three goals, with St Helens also forcing three goal-line dropouts.
Salford had one chance to score, when former London Broncos winger Rhys Williams touched down on the left, but video-referee James Child spotted a foot in touch.
Saints extended their lead in the second half after some confusion at a Salford play the ball saw a goal-line dropout and Jaek Welsby gave a superb pass to put Kevin Naiqama in on the right, with Percival converting after Coote had left the field with a knee injury.
Salford replied, however, when Ken Sio touched down on the right, with Lolohea converting from the touchline.
But Naiqama scored his second, this time from a Jonny Lomax pass, with Percival again goaling from the touchline, before teenager Welsby touched down twice as St Helens pulled away, with Walmsley then going in for his second.
St Helens: Coote, Welsby, Naiqama, Percival, Grace, Lomax, Fages, Walmsley, Bentley, Thompson, Taia, Peyroux, McCarthy-Scarsbrook; Subs: Lees, Amor, Ashworth, Paulo.
Tries: Taia, Walmsley 2, Fages, Naiqama 2, Welsby 2 Goals: Coote 3, Percival 5
Salford: Evalds, Sio, Welham, Sarginson, Williams, Lolohea, Brown, Mossop, Lussick, Dudson, Greenwood, McCarthy, Burke; Subs: Pauli, Ikahihifo, Yates, Johnson.
Tries: Sio Goals: Lolohea 2
A full match report and photos from this game will feature in Monday’s League Express