Saints are keeping their fingers crossed that the late second-half injury sustained by Aussie superstar Ben Barba in last night’s thumping 60-10 victory over Salford Red Devils at the AJ Bell Stadium isn’t as serious as initially feared.
The full back’s joy at completing his first-ever hat-trick of tries on British soil turned to despair when he was carried off on a stretcher wearing a neck brace following an innocuous-looking challenge.
Medical staff spent around 10 minutes on the field dealing with the problem, leaving Saints’ playing staff and their fans looking on in trepidation.
Earlier the 2016 Cronulla Sharks Grand Final winner had taken his Betfred Super League try tally to 15, as well as playing a major role in creating openings for team-mates to cross the whitewash despite the league leaders having to play with only 12 men from the 37th minutes after substitute Matty Lees was sent off for an illegal tackle when they led 32-6.
Neither incident stemmed the flow of a game which Saints dominated from start to finish and at the same time they took their try tally from the last two fixtures to 23 and a combined total of 126 points.
It was a ruthlessly executed victory in which every single player made a telling contribution - and not for the first time this season there was more than one contender for the the man of the match accolade.
It went, not surprisingly, to Barba but now Saints will be playing the waiting game as they seek the extent of the Australian full back’s injury.
Head coach Justin Holbrook said.
Skipper James Roby, who missed his third match through a rib cartilage injury and picked up the award for his team-mate, said: “It was a bitter sweet night for us.
“The result was fantastic considering the time we played a man short but now our main concern is to see how Ben is feeling.
“The medical staff know what they are doing and we trust their judgement.”
Boss Justin Holbrook said: “I’m not 100 per cent sure (on the state of Barba) but hopefully it’s just a precaution, with the doctors playing on the safe side.”
He added: “Six weeks ago Alex Walmsley copped a knock and actually stood up and walked off so I think the docs might be worried because of that.
“It looked like he fell awkwardly and at first I thought it was his collar bone but the doctor was pressing on his neck and he was trying to get the feeling back.”
Salford Red Devils (6) 10
Tries: McCarthy, Welham. Goal: Shorrocks.
Saints (32) 60.
Tries: Barba 3, Morgan (2), Grace 2, Percival, Fages, Makinson, Peyroux. Goals: Richardson 8/11
Teams - Salford 5. Niall Evalds; 2. Greg Johnson, 4. Junior Sa’u, 3. Kris Welham, 24. Jake Bibby; 28. Jake Shorrocks, 7. Jack Littlejohn; 23. Lee Mossop, 9. Logan Tomkins, 16. Luke Burgess, 10. George Griffin, 15. Ryan Lannon, 13. Mark Flanagan. Subs: 8. Craig Kopczak, 14. Lama Tasi, 17. Tyrone McCarthy, 19. Josh Wood.
Saints:23. Ben Barba; 2. Tommy Makinson, 3. Ryan Morgan, 4. Mark Percival, 19. Regan Grace; 1. Jonny Lomax, 18. Danny Richardson; 10. Kyle Amor, 7. Matty Smith, 16. Luke Thompson, 11. Zeb Taia, 17. Dom Peyroux, 12. Jon Wilkin.Subs: 6. Theo Fages, 13. Louie McCarthy-Scarsbrook, 15. Morgan Knowles, 20. Matty Lees.