Holbrook’s magic opener

Saints were back to winning ways at the Magic weekend
Saints were back to winning ways at the Magic weekend
  • Alex Walmsley wins man of the match award
  • Newly-installed coach happy with debut win
  • Holbrook insisted on same 19 as Castleford reverse

New boss Justin Holbrook couldn’t have asked for a better start to his coaching career at St Helens and a result which must have been beyond his wildest dreams.

Saints put their inconsistent early season form behind them - sending shock waves through the rest of Super League world by a dazzling eight-try demolition of high-flying Hull FC at the Magic Weekend on Saturday.

St Helens' Tommy Makinson beats the challenge of Hull FC's Danny Houghton before scoring for Saints

St Helens' Tommy Makinson beats the challenge of Hull FC's Danny Houghton before scoring for Saints

The 45-0 score line was no more than they deserved, leaving me almost speechless by the manner it was achieved.

It was an almost perfect, error-free performance but one swallow doesn’t make a summer and to follow this up with a tough derby showdown against arch-rivals Wigan Warriors on Thursday night at the Totally Wicked Stadium is probably the right fixture if they are to maintain their momentum.

Holbrook, who only arrived in the UK towards the end of last week, had little time

time to stamp his tactical authority on the players.

I got here on Thursday and worked with them on Friday so I can’t claim too much for the performance. I could tell they wanted to perform and I am pleased for them

New Saints boss Justin Holbrook

He did, however, relay to assistant coach Sean Long a simple message following the humiliating Ladbrokes Challenge Cup defeat at Castleford.

“Name the same 19 if possible against Hull,” he insisted - and boy did it work a treat.

The players knew they had a massive point to prove and rose to the occasion in devastating fashion.

Holbrook said: “I obviously came in at a good time.

Fans in the stands during day one of the Betfred Super League Magic Weekend at St James' Park, Newcastle

Fans in the stands during day one of the Betfred Super League Magic Weekend at St James' Park, Newcastle

“The boys were hurting a lot, getting bundled out of the Challenge Cup last week, but all the credit goes to them for putting in a performance like that.

“I got here on Thursday and worked with them on Friday so I can’t claim too much for the performance. I could tell they wanted to perform and I am pleased for them.

“I’ve been watching the games in Australia and I could feel they were frustrated. My job was just to try and take the pressure off them, stop trying so hard which is what they were guilty of last week.

“They’re a good bunch of guys, they want success and they were hurting. I just wanted to try and let them let go of all of that and just get back to enjoying it again. They had to work hard which they did; there was some great defence there.

Hull FC's Sika Manu is tackled by St Helens' Zeb Taia (right) during day one of the Betfred Super League Magic Weekend at St James' Park, Newcastle

Hull FC's Sika Manu is tackled by St Helens' Zeb Taia (right) during day one of the Betfred Super League Magic Weekend at St James' Park, Newcastle

“I was confident that we could clear all that up, there was nothing majorly wrong there, we just had to find our way.

“While it was a great performance we still only get the two points and we’re still a fair way off the leading pack so we’ll keep performing.”

Two-try prop Alex Walmsley earned the man of the man award - and maybe sent a poignant message to England boss Wayne Bennett, who left him out of the 17-man squad after he had travelled to the other side of the world to face Samoa.

Big Al, who was described by Hull coach Lee Radford as ‘Superman,’ said: “It was an outstanding display and all credit to the boys.

“Justin has come in and already given us confidence, as well as making us excited about playing rugby again.

“It was a massive achievement to beat Hull so convincingly but we will not get carried away by the result.

Fans in the stands during day one of the Betfred Super League Magic Weekend at St James' Park, Newcastle

Fans in the stands during day one of the Betfred Super League Magic Weekend at St James' Park, Newcastle

“We just need to carry on like this and there will be no bigger incentive to do so when we face Wigan on Thursday.’’

Saints fans soak up the atmosphere at St James' Park

Saints fans soak up the atmosphere at St James' Park

St Helens' Louie McCarthy Scarsbrook (right) celebrates his try

St Helens' Louie McCarthy Scarsbrook (right) celebrates his try