Stunned Salford fans called for the sacking of head coach, Shaun McRae, in this the second match of the Super League season as Saints condemned them to a second heavy defeat.
Just as in their opening encounter with Crusaders the home side looked lethargic, listless and largely disinterested, which is like waving a red rag to a bull when you’re facing St.Helens. Sure enough the visitors obliged, helping themselves to ten tries in sweeping to a 56-22 victory.
Coach, Shaun McRae faces a turbulent start to Super League, with Salford fans voicing their displeasure as early as the half hour mark. Starting with a rendition of “Bye-bye McRae” rounded of with a chorus of “You’re getting sacked in the morning”. They then booed the hapless coach as he made the long walk across the pitch to the dressing room for the half time talk.
The Millennium Magic experience had left both of these teams short of experience: Salford losing hooker, Wayne Godwin (suspended); Saints missing fullback Paul Wellens and prop James Graham. But the Saint, fielding a host of youngsters barely missed a beat against a home side lacking in confidence and energy.
The Saints had the better of the opening quarter on a freezing cold February night. They opened the scoring when second row Chris Flannery popped-up on the end of a Lee Gaskell grubber to touchdown by the left upright. Kyle Eastmond added a second try when he followed Jon Wikin’s grubber to collect a bad bounce and twist over for the score; Jamie Foster converted both for a 12-0 lead on ten minutes.
The visitors might have had another touchdown too, with Louie McCarthy Scarbrook showing a rare turn of speed on a 40 metre break only to run out of support.
And it was the home side who struck next, Luke Patten forcing his way over at left centre on 15 minutes with Dan Holdsworth’s conversion from wide out giving the home side a needed boost.
James Roby is rapidly settling into the Keiron Cunningham mantle and he burrowed over in true KC style on 24 minutes, Foster again goaling, this time from wide on the left. Francis Meli powered over at left centre to edge Saints further ahead on the half hour.
Eastmond tagged on a second and James Lomax linked up to add a sixth try on 38 minutes, Foster goaling both. Then Ade Gardner raced onto Lomax’s long pass to score a seventh try on the stroke of half time for a 38-6 lead.
Whatever McRae said at the break, it had an instant impact, Salford racing in with Ashey Gibson crossing at the right corner to make it 10-38 in the opening minute. But the joy was short lived and bitter; Lee Gaskell collecting a knock-on from the kickoff and racing over untouched to make it 42-10; Foster added the extras.
Clough barged in for a deserved try on 53 mins, Foster goaling from in front to make it 50-10. Then Michael Shenton hacked on a kick through to score at right centre from 30 out. Foster again goaled; 56-10.
Stephan Ratchford grabbed a late try racing behind the posts to touchdown a kick through, with Holdsworth adding a second goal. Then Jodie Broughton dove in for a late consolation as the hooter sounded to close out the game.
Patten, Broughton, Henry, Nero, Gibson, Ratchford, Holdsworth, Cashmere, Smith, Parker, Adamson, Sidlow, Wild
Subs: Palea’aesina Neal, Spencer, Jewitt
T: Patten, Gibson, Ratchford, Broughton
G: Holdsworth 3/4
Lomax, Gardner, Shenton, Meli, Foster, Gaskell, Eastmond, McArthy Scarsbrook, Roby, Puletua, Flannery, Soliola, Wilkin
Subs: Moore, Clough, Magennis, Makinson
T: Flannery, Eastmond 2, Roby , Meli, Lomax, Gardner, Gaskell, Clough, Shenton
G: Foster 8/10
Referee: R Hicks