Saints 34 Salford Red Devils 2

St Helens continued their perfect start to the Super League season thanks to an inspirational display from Australian full-back Ben Barba.

Sunday, 4th March 2018, 6:25 pm
Updated Sunday, 4th March 2018, 6:30 pm
Ben Barba

Barba was too hot for Salford to handle as the former Cronulla star grabbed a double and had a hand in two others in a 34-2 victory.His display released the shackles from the Saints who ran in four second-half scores.Barba grabbed the game by the scruff of the neck after 25 minutes of anaemic rugby league from Justin Holbrook's side.When he chimed in to dab a perfectly weighted kick to Tommy Makinson for Saints' first try, the home side began to get the blood pumping.Ten minutes later Saints were in again thanks to a brilliant offload from Alex Walmsley who had sucked in four Red Devils tacklers before slipping the ball to skipper James Roby who fired out to Barba to finish in style.Danny Richardson missed both conversions with Salford's only effort of the half coming from a Gareth O'Brien penalty - and that was as good as it got for the visitors on a frustrating afternoon on Merseyside.Saints raised the intensity levels immediately after the restart and it was Barba again who provided the brilliance as he stepped his way to the line.Richardson added the extras and was needed again minutes later as Salford were penalised for a soft infringement right in front of the sticks.At 16-2 Ian Watson's Red Devils had to do all the running and they did throw caution to the wind and asked some very good questions of the St Helens goal-line defence with Rob Lui looking the likeliest to force an opening.But poor decision-making and continued disciplinary issues surrendered field position and possession and gifted Saints with easy escapes.Things got worse when former Saints prop Lama Tasi was sin-binned for three consecutive late shots that resulted in referee Scott Mikalauskas reaching for the yellow card.Saints failed to increase their advantage while Tasi was off the field but with 13 minutes remaining it was going to take a massive turnaround from the Red Devils to get anything from the game.Any flicker of hope Salford had was extinguished late on as Louie McCarthy-Scarsbrook bundled his way over the line after an initial break from Jonny Lomax.Lomax got in on the act himself and Luke Thompson put the icing on the cake in the closing stages with an easy score after Salford had put their cue away.Richardson hit all three conversions to put the final nails in the coffin.