Our sports writer John Yates gives his verdict on Saints crushing win over Bradford.
One is riding high in Super League and the other a ‘fallen giant’ already struggling to avoid the dreaded drop and also praying that a deduction of six points imposed for entering administration will shortly be overturned on appeal. Second-in-the-table Saints were simply streets ahead of the bedraggled Bulls and had it been a boxing match the towel would have been tossed into the ring long before the end.
It was almost too one sided for words and while being nilled is not a rarity in Rugby League to suffer it at home, as Bradford did, can be nothing short of embarrassing.
But victorious St Helens boss Nathan Brown refused to accept at the post-match press conference that it had been little more than a training session for his title chasers who ran in nine unanswered tries to silence the home crowd at wind-swept Odsal on Sunday.
Brown said: “We came here after Bradford had achieved two great wins - one at the expense of the Catalan Dragons in the Tetley’s Challenge Cup and the previous Sunday’s 34-28 league success over Warrington Wolves - and had to work hard for everything we got.”
Victory was built on the dominance of the Saints’ pack who paved the way for the likes of Roby’s fellow ball artistes, Jonny Lomax, Lance Hohaia and Luke Walsh, to show their subtle skills and to be perfectly honest the final points margin beween the two sides could have been even wider had Brown’s boys been more clinical with their finishing, especially in the first half.
Early on, however, there was little to suggest the mayhem which followed as the Bulls, boosted by successive penalties, asked questions of the Saints’ defence.
Unfortunately the threat, as far as the hosts were concerned, didn’t last too long and they found themselves trailing in the 11th minute after a surging Matt Dawson break was the prelude to Jon Wilkin forcing his way over for the opening try and Walsh landing the goal.
Loss of control close to the line prevented substitute Mose Masoe from claming only his second try of the campaign but Saints doubled their lead after 28 minutes.
It was set up by Hohaia’s outrageous dummy and finished off by the supporting Walsh, who also added the extras. The scrum half was to the fore again a few minutes later when his clever chip kick was palmed backwards by Tom Makinson into the hands of Lomax who touched down under pressure.
Antonio Kaufusi and Jay Pitts combined to put Adam O’Brien within touchng distance of grabbing Braford’s first try but a bone-shuddering tackle from substitute Sio Soliol stopped him his tracks,
It was an outstanding piece of defensive play and Saints were rewarded by notching their fourth try on the stroke of half-time - Wilkin darting in under to post and Walsh, who had created the opening, adding his third conversion from four attempts. Any remote hopes the Bulls had of staging a second-half revival were dashed in the 45th minute when leading try scorer Tom Makinson roared in from Josh Jones’ off-load and some inventive attacking play,
Fellow winger Adam Swift crossed after another move of high quality, only to retire minutes later through injury and replaced by skipper Paul Wellens.
But Saints continued to turn the screw and added further tries via Soliola (64 mins) Louie McCarthy-Scarsbrook ( 72 min) and Roby (75 mins) with Walsh taking his final goal-kicking tally to seven from nine attempts.