Reigning champions Saints warmed up for their World Club Challenge clash with South Sydney in style with a 10-try rout of Salford.
Centre Mark Percival scored two tries and kicked six goals in Saints’ 52-6 victory over a ragged Red Devils team, making it to make it two wins from two in their impressive start to the Super League seaso for Keiron Cunningham’s men.
Saints skipper Jon Wilkin was the mastermind behind the win in his makeshift scrum-half role and there was another eye-catching display from second rower Joe Greenwood, who also scored two tries along with centre Jordan Turner.
Salford had full-back Kevin Locke and front-row forward Lama Tasi back after missing the opening defeat at Warrington playing their first games but Locke hobbled off early in the second half and scrum-half Michael Dobson also failed to finish the game as the Red Devils flopped in front of their own fans.
Dobson, starting alongside Rangi Chase for the first time, looked promising in the early stages but at times they played too much rugby without earning the right.
Saints simply soaked up all the early pressure and hit their hosts with three tries in a devastating 12-minute spell.
Percival scored the first with an exceptional finish after full-back Jonny Lomax had counter-attacked from deep inside his own half.
Greenwood looked to have created an opening for Wilkin only for referee Ben Thaler to rule a forward pass but the rangy forward made no mistake in sending Turner over for his first try after a rampaging run from Atelea Vea had set up the position.
The 21-year-old Greenwood then got in on the scoring act, profiting from a piece of smart play from dummy half by James Roby and Percival kicked his side’s first conversion to make it 14-0 after 21 minutes.
Salford’s most dangerous forward was Gareth Hock, who was thwarted by an obstruction ruling before former Leeds winger Ben Jones-Bishop scored his third try in two appearances for the club, collecting an attacking kick from Saints’ Tom Makinson and scything through the visitors’ defence on a 70-metre run to the line.
Dobson’s goal cut Saints’ lead to eight points but they took advantage of handling errors from their hosts either side of half-time to strengthen their grip on the game.
Locke fumbled Wilkin’s high kick and was then forced to watch as the St Helens skipper worked substitute forward Luke Thompson over for a fourth try of the first half.
Percival’s second goal made it 20-6 at the break and within two minutes of the restart Salford were punished for a knock-on near his own line by Jones-Bishop, with Makinson producing a trademark finish at the corner.
Replacement hooker Theo Fages was twice held up over the line as Salford attempted a comeback but it was snuffed out on 53 minutes when another clever kick from Wilkin caused all sorts of confusion in the home defence and Percival was presented with a second try.
Locke then went off and Salford’s woes increased when Hock was sin-binned for a foul tackle on Mose Masoe, shortly after being put on report, and Saints added four further tries in the last 20 minutes.
Wilkin worked prop Louie McCarthy-Scarsbrook over for one and Greenwood took Roby’s pass to grab his second. Turner then stretched out to the line for his second before Percival gathered Wilkin’s towering kick to get Andre Savelio over for his second try of the season.