Saints 32 Salford 12

Saints RL
Saints RL

Two-try veteran Paul Wellens provided the inspiration as St Helens powered to the top of the First Utility Super League with a convincing 32-12 win over lacklustre Salford.

Sia Soliola, Lance Hohaia and Gary Wheeler also touched down for dominant Saints at Langtree Park and Luke Walsh kick six goals but it was Wellens, still turning on the style at 34, who led the way.

Salford rarely threatened and were limited to consolation tries from Niall Evalds and Gareth Hock as they slumped to yet another defeat.

The much-hyped and revamped Red Devils have now won just once in eight games since replacing Brian Noble as coach with Iestyn Harris.

The opening quarter was scrappy with both sides being undermined in attack by handling errors or a lack of creativity.

It was a mistake from Salford full-back Greg Eden which led to Saints’ opening score in the 17th minute as he fumbled a Walsh kick close to his own line.

Wellens, continuing to revel back in his old full-back slot in the absence of Jonny Lomax, took advantage as he crashed over from a Walsh pass.

Salford, as they did all too often, looked to Rangi Chase to spark a response but Wellens proved he has lost none of his awareness in defence either as he coolly defused the scrum-half’s kick.

Salford were cut open as Mark Flanagan weaved his way through a number of tackles before Soliola applied the finishing touch from close range.

Walsh landed his first conversion of the evening and moments later was kicking another after Hohaia took up an attack following a Jon Wilkin break to score a third try.

Salford were lacking cohesion and drive and almost conceded again before the break as James Roby dabbed a kick through for Wilkin but the ball just ran dead.

Wilkin appeared to hurt his arm in a collision as he stretched for the ball and he was forced to leave the action.

Salford left the field looking dispirited but Harris’ half-time team-talk provided some motivation as they started the second period positively.

Evalds in particular started to look dangerous and was twice denied by last-ditch tackles before eventually pouncing on a Chase kick to register a belated try for the visitors out wide.

Tim Smith added a difficult conversion but any thoughts of a Salford fightback were quickly quashed as Wellens chipped forward and Wheeler raced in for a fourth Saints try.

Two more goals from Walsh took the game further out of reach before Wellens capped an outstanding display by finishing off a sweeping move on the right.

Salford did show some quality to piece together a good move for Hock to cross for a Smith-converted try but the lack of celebration told its own story.

Wellens thought he might have claimed a hat-trick with seven minutes remaining but was stopped just short of the line.