St Helens 48 Hull KR 16

Saints head coach Keiron Cunningham
Saints head coach Keiron Cunningham

Winger Adam Swift scored four tries as St Helens came from behind to beat Hull KR 48-16 to ease the pressure on coach Kieron Cunningham.

Saints were heading for a fifth straight defeat when Hull KR raced into a 12-0 lead after 21 minutes but Swift brought them back into the game with two tries in six minutes late in the first half and doubled his tally as they went on to cruise home.

Hull KR were the better side for most of the first half but collapsed in alarming fashion after the break and fell apart completely in the final quarter when they conceded 24 points.

Saints’ lack of confidence was obvious from the start and in stark contrast to the buoyancy of the visitors, who were handed the early freedom of Langtree Park and revelled in it largely through the prompting of scrum-half Albert Kelly.

Hooker Shaun Lunt took the final pass of birthday boy James Greenwood to finish off a bewildering handling move by scoring a fifth-minute try and delightful pass out of the tackle by the ever-dangerous Kelly got loose forward Chris Clarkson over for a second on 16 minutes.

Kieran Dixon converted one try and kicked a 22nd-minute penalty to open up a deserved 12-0 lead which would have been greater had replacement hooker George Lawler been able to hang on to Kelly’s pass with the line open but his first touch of the ball was a fumble.

The state of Saints’ dishevelled play was illustrated when Jordan Turner, forming an unlikely half-back partnership with Jon Wilkin, failed to find touch with his team’s first penalty and they suffered disruption when centre Matty Fleming - making his first appearance of the season - limped off on 23 minutes and was followed down the tunnel six minutes later by prop Lama Tasi with concussion.

St Helens eventually found some rhythm to their play in the final 10 minutes of the half and hauled themselves back into contention through Swift.

Full-back Jonny Lomax created an overlap for the first and centre Mark Percival put his wingman over at the corner for his second two minutes before the break.

Percival was unable to convert either try but Saints were on a roll and Swift went 80 metres to complete his hat-trick five minutes into the second half.

Not to be outdone completely, right winger Shannon McDonnell supported a break by second rower Dominique Peyroux to score a fourth try on 48 minutes but Swift added his fourth four minutes later after collecting Lomax’s cut-out pass.

Rovers simply could not get their hands on the ball at that stage but Kelly showed his danger when they finally got to challenge the home defence.

His break got Lunt charging for the line and, although he was denied by Percival’s magnificent last-ditch tackle, Hull KR exposed a gap out wide for winger Thomas Minns to go over for their third try.

But it did little to disrupt Saints’ momentum. Under-pressure full-back Dixon pulled off a fine tackle to halt Turner’s charge for the line but he had no chance of stopping Percival crossing for a sixth try, courtesy of an offload from Joe Greenwood, who had the last laugh on his brother in the visitors’ line-up.

As Rovers faded badly, second rower Louie McCarthy-Scarsbrook, Peyroux and prop Alex Walmsley all went through some tired defence to add further tries and Percival took his goal tally to six.