The 2016 Dacia World Club Series got off to a familiar depressing note for Super League as St Helens succumbed to a 38-12 defeat by Sydney Roosters in the opening game at Langtree Park.
Humiliated 39-0 by South Sydney in the main event, the World Club Challenge, in the inaugural series 12 months ago, Saints could do little to salvage the pride of Super League as they were easily swept aside by the NRL’s reigning minor premiers.
Sorely missing England hooker James Roby, Saints were out of the contest by half-time when they trailed 22-0 and, although centre Dominique Peyroux scored his first tries for the club in an improved second-half display, there was generally little for the 14,008 crowd to cheer.
The Roosters gave a debut to teenager Jayden Nikorima in the absence of suspended half-back Mitchell Pearce and, although he was forced off after only three minutes after taking a knock to the head, he returned after a concussion assessment to play a major role in his side’s seven-try rout.
Latrell Mitchell and Vincent Leuluai also made their first appearances for the Sydney club but there was no place for former Wigan winger Joe Burgess, who was surprisingly left out by coach Trent Robinson.
Fresh from a shattering 44-10 league defeat by Salford, Saints were quickly mis-firing once more and their troubles were illustrated when playmaker Luke Walsh, clearly ignorant that the series was being played under international rules, kicked the ball on the first tackle in the mistaken belief that Super League’s free play was in use.
That gave the Roosters the opportunity to run the ball from deep and launch the first of a series of penetrative attacks for which the Super League side had little answer.
Prop Kane Evans used his brute strength to force his way past the attention of a trio of defenders for the first try on 15 minutes and - five minutes later - second rower Aidan Guerra touched down Nikorima’s kick for the first of his two tries.
Hastings missed his first conversion but went on to kick his next five as the Australians seized total control by half-time.
Full-back Blake Ferguson finished off a break by hooker Jake Friend, aided by a suspiciously forward pass in the move, and centre Dale Copley touched down a break out of defence by Nikorima after Jon Wilkin’s attacking kick went horribly wrong.
Trailing 22-0 at the break, at least Saints ensured there would be no whitewash this time when Peyroux dived on a loose ball after Ferguson had failed to deal with Wilkin’s kick and Walsh converted the try.
It was only a minor irritation for the Roosters, however, as Nikorima strode through the Saints defence to get winger Shaun Kenny-Dowall over for a fifth try before the pair of them combined to send Guerra in for his second.
The visitors were temporarily reduced to 12 men on the hour when prop Dylan Nappa was sin-binned for a high tackle on Adam Swift and Saints immediately took advantage with Peyroux exposing a rare chink in the Roosters line to grab his second try.
However, the Roosters had the final say when winger Daniel Tupou snapped up a careless offload by second rower Atelea Vea to sprint 80 minutes for an opportunist score.