Huddersfield Giants 0
IT was billed as a pre-season friendly but no one seemed to have told Sia Soliola.
Saints’ powerhouse second row forward treated the warm-up fixture against Huddersfield Giants at Langtree Park on Friday night as if it was a Grand Final decider, or a Wembley showpiece.
The 26-year-old New Zealand international, who played throughout the first half and the final 13 minutes, wreaked havoc almost every time he exploded into the action, whether defensively or when on the front foot, and received a glowing tribute from head coach Nathan Brown.
Brown, who was attempting to plot the downfall of his former club, said: “When Sia is fully fit and well he brings a great deal to the table.”
Like most friendly fixtures it didn’t scale any great heights but wasn’t helped by a penalty count of 25 awarded fussy referee James Child.
However, Brown was able to take on board several plus points and didn’t hide his delight at nilling the opposition with a well-drilled defensive display.
New boys Willie Manu and Jordan Turner were both given a first-half run out with the latter taking over the kicking duties ahead of the likes of Lee Gaskell and Jonny Lomax and landed two goal from three attempts as Saints built up a 16-0 interval advantage.
Lomax’s general play, however, caught the eye of his new boss and his subtle handling played a major role in setting up several tries.
Brown said: “Jonny produced some nice stuff and got the team going forward but most players contributed, including substitute Joe Greenwood who crowned a good pre-season training by scoring one of our second-half tries.”
Other youngsters, including third new signing Alex Walmsley, came off the bench to stake a claim for a regular first team slot and so, too, did experienced winger Ade Gardner, who will be hoping to put an injury-ravaged 2012 behind him.
Substitute Mark Percival also showed his potential by crashing over in the corner for Saints’ fifth and final try.
Brown said: “The key will be keeping all the players fit. If you look at Leeds Rhino when he have won the competition they had their players fit and playing well at the same time.”
Tries - Saints: James Roby (14mins), Anthony Laffranchi (25 mins), Paul Wellens (37mins), Greenwood (43mins), Percival (71mins).
Goals: Turner (2-3), Lomax (1-1), Percival (0-1).
Team - Saints: Wellens, Makinson, Turner, Jones, Meli, Gaskell, Lomax, Laffranchi, Roby, McCarthy-Scarsbrook, Soliola, Wilkin, Manu.
Subs: Gardner, Hohaia, Flanagan, Ashe, Greenwood, Walmsley, Walker, Hand, Yates, Speakman, Percival.
Huddersfield Giants: Grix, Dawson, Cudjoe, Murphy, George,Brough, Robinson, Kopczak, Faiumu, Patrick, Chan, Cording, Lawrence.
Subs: Wardle, Lunt, Blackmore, Ferguson, Mullally, Johnson, Mason, Aspinall, Connor, Miller, Leaming.