Saints swept the Bradford Bulls aside with a blistering eleven-try performance that keeps the pressure on neighbours Warrington in the race for second place in engage Super League XV.
They were in no mood to lose after succumbing to Leeds Rhinos in a thrilling Carnegie Challenge Cup semi-final in their last outing and where buoyed by the return of England scrum half Kyle Eastmond from injury.
But some games are memorable for reasons beyond the scoreline and this was one. It was a game that showcased the exciting talents of another of Saints rising stars. Jonny Lomax looks so at home on a rugby field he might as well be kicking-back in a Lazy Boy recliner. Previously used at centre and fullback,the Under-21 standoff slotted in at loose-forward like a natural. Laying on a man of the match performance that really caught the eye as he played a big part in the majority of Saints scoring chances.
Clearly up-for-it, the Saints caught Bradford cold with three tries inside 10 minutes. Lomax played a big part in touchdowns by Ade Gardner and Scott Moore, with Eastmond crafting an easy score for Jon Wilkin and Jamie Foster adding two goals for a 16-nil lead.
A sweeping move saw Roby, Lomax, Meli, Gardner, Lomax again and finally Gardner all combine to smash the Bulls defence in a 50 metre raid down the left wing for the opening try.
Another Lomax break set the platform for a second Saints score moments later. This time it was Wilkin and Graham’s quick handling that allowed Moore to cross from close range. Foster goaled from in front for a 10-0 lead.
With the lop-sided penalty count rapidly mounting it looked ominous for the Bulls and when Eastmond’s slick reverse pass sent Wilkin bursting over for the third try it was all over bar the counting. Foster’s kick made it 16-0 and only 11 minutes played.
Craig Kpoczak’s huge hit on James Roby on 12 minutes was the high spot of a dire opening period for the Bulls; small consolation for a team struggling to come to terms with their own errors and the quirky refereeing of Theiry Alibert.
They blew a golden opportunity though, when Puletua spilled the ball as he broke from a scrum in front of his own posts. Remarkably Referee Alibert made an even worse error by awarding head and feed to the home side, even though no Bulls advantage had ensued from Puletua’s error.
It didn’t worry the Saints though, they swept downfield to add a fourth try. Foster crossing at the right corner.
The magic continued on 25 minutes with Lomax racing in to claim Wilkins up and under and slickly flicking a pass out to the unmarked Roby for the try. Foster converted for 26-0.
Eastmond sent Saints into the break on a high, darting through a gap inside the 20 and then burrowing in for a try between the posts, with Foster converting.
It took a while for the scoring to begin after the break, but it wasn’t for want of trying The Bulls defence stopping Meli and Graham on the goal line and over ambitious passing costing Saints on another couple of occasions.
Fittingly it was Lomax who iced the cake. Chiming in to take Wilkins’ drop off pass and sprint over at right centre. Foster goaled to make it 38-0.
Saints extended the lead after Gidley intercepted in front of his own posts and and set Meli galloping free. Lomax linked-up in midfield but was hauled down on the 20. But Matty Ashurst crashed in at left centre and Foster goaled from wide out to make it 44-0.
Puletua bagged the ninth try, picking up a loose ball ten metres out and ambling through shambolic defence to score. Foster converted.
Wilkin bagged his second on 65 minutes burrowing in from close range, with Foster tagging on the goal.
Two lates scores from former Harlequins duo Rikki Sheriffe and Michael; Worrincy were scant consolation, despite their being greeted with delight by the travelling Bulls fans.
Saints rounded off the scoring with a Foster try at the corner after a neat Gidley offload .
SAINTS: Wellens, Foster, Gidley, Meli, Gardner, Moore, Eastmond, Graham, Roby, Puletua, Flannery, Wilkin, Lomax Subs: Cunningham, Hargreaves, Ashurts, Emmitt
T: Gardner (4), Moore (6), Wilkin (11, 65), Foster (20,77 ), Roby (29), Eastmond (39), Lomax (52), Ashurst (57), Puletua (62), Wilkin (65)
G: Foster 8/11
BULLS: Halley, Sheriffe, Platt, Menzies, Crookes, Kearney, Sykes, Kopczak, L’Estrange, Lynch, Whitehead, Worrincy, Langley Subs: Scruton, Godwin, Olbison, Finigan
T: Sheriffe (72), Worrincy (75)
G: Sykes 2/2
REF: Thiery Alibert
2 Foster ruled offside as he races onto Eastmond chip and slides over at right corner.
4 Gardner try 4-0
5 Bulls penalised from kickoff – offside.
6 Moore try 8-0
Foster 1/2 10-0
11 Wilkin try 14-0
Foster 2/3 16-0
20 Foster try 20-0
29 Roby try 24-0
Foster 3/5 26-0
39 Eastmond try 30-0
Foster 4/6 32-0
52 Lomax try 36-0
Foster 5/7 38-0
57 Ashurst try 42-0
Foster 6/8 44-0
62 Puletua try 48-0
Foster 7/9 50-0
65 Wilkin try 54-0
Foster 8/10 56-0
72 Sheriffe try 56-4
Sykes 1/1 56-6
75 Worrincy try 56-10
Sykes 2/2 56-12
77 Foster try 60-12