Kristian Woolf pleased St Helens able to put on a show for returning fans
St Helens coach Kristian Woolf was delighted his team were able to treat their returning fans to an emphatic 28-0 win over Salford.
Saints opened the doors of the Totally Wicked Stadium for the first time in more than 14 months and initially tested the patience of their 4,000 socially-distanced season-ticket holders before the break before giving them plenty to cheer with four second-half tries.
Woolf will hope to see his side improve on their slow starts to matches, but there is nothing wrong with their defence as they produced their second clean sheet of the season to maintain their lead at the top of the table with a sixth win from as many games.
“Having the fans back was outstanding,” Woolf said. “Hearing the reception when the players ran out for their warm-up and seeing all the smiles on their faces made the hairs stand up on your back.
“Also the terraces singing the songs, it was outstanding to have that back – to actually hear it and feel it reminds us of how much we missed it.
“It was great seeing people walk across the bridge and into the ground and it was great that we could put a good performance on for them.”
Saints led only 6-0 at the break, courtesy of Alex Walmsley’s solo try, but gradually wore down their opponents and ran in further tries through Theo Fages, Kevin Naiqama, Louie McCarthy-Scarsbrook and Regan Grace.
“I thought we defended terrifically,” Woolf said. “We made it hard for them to get out of their end and, when we had to scramble, we did a really good job.
“When we put our sets together, we attacked really well, but we lost a bit of momentum when we had chances to put them under pressure.
“It was a great try after half-time from Theo that put us on the front foot for the second half.”
Saints completed the double over Salford following their opening-day win over Richard Marshall’s men, who are struggling near the foot of the table with just one win from their first six matches.
Marshall, who was assistant to Woolf when Saints retained their title in 2020, said: “I thought we did a real good job in the first half, we had a lot of momentum and field position, but in the second half we just got blown away.
“We couldn’t compete with the speed and accuracy of St Helens. They will do that to a lot of teams.
“They played the field position really well and strangled us. They’re a very hard team to defend against and obviously our attack wasn’t on today.
“Kristian has just presented me with a ring from the Grand Final which is a really nice touch by the club, but I would swap it for a win right now.”
Marshall said he rested Harvey Livett due to a “few niggles” and Salford lost hooker Andy Ackers after only two minutes with a head injury and stand-off Kevin Brown towards the end with a foot injury.
“Kev should probably should have come off sooner than he did,” Marshall added. “He was playing on one leg.
“So we got knocked about. We need our full complement against St Helens and you need to do it for 80 minutes.”