Yates’ verdict: Barba magic and a Roby milestone

Ben Barba runs in to score against Hull KR
Ben Barba runs in to score against Hull KR
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Saints’ fans who drifted away from the Totally Wicked Stadium minutes before the end of Friday’s Betfred Super League clash against Hull KR and headed for their local to sample a refreshing pint or two before closing time, will be cursing their luck at missing the only real champagne moment of the night.

It came less than 60 seconds from the end of a Roses battle which until then had been as flat as a poorly pulled glass of beer - and not surprisingly the magic was provided by top scorer Ben Barba.

The Aussie full back is earning a well deserved reputation for creating and finishing length-of-the-field tries and he was up to his old tricks again - roaring down the left touch line at breakneck speed and leaving Rovers players trailing in his wake.

It was his 22nd touchdown in league and cup competitions this season and gives Saints a commanding six point cushion at the top of the Super League table following results elsewhere.

The game may have ended in a spectacular fashion but generally never scaled any great heights in terms of entertainment with both sides guilty of too many handling errors - and anyone expecting it to match the previous weekend’s Saints-Hull FC Ladbrokes Challenge Cup tie will have been disappointed.

Maybe Saints, in particular, were suffering a back lash from the short turnaround between the meetings with the Humberside clubs and never got their act together in a consistent manner despite the non-stop prompting of skipper James Roby whose first half try took his club tally to the magical 100 milestone.

Roby, now 32, looked almost as fit and fresh as he did when he made his debut 14 years ago and was at the heart of nearly every positive and probing move.

Coach Justin Holbrook said: “Robes was good tonight. He was back to his best and a stand out performer for us. He was impressive and sharp and that was great to see.

“It was good for his to reach 100 tries for the club, too. It is a great landmark from a great player.”

Holbrook added: “We came off a tough game on Sunday and it was always going to be a challenge against the Robins but I felt we handled it really well. I thought the players lifted after a tough game and controlled it very well.

“It was scrappy, even though we came close to scoring more tries, but all in all I’m really pleased to come away with a good win.”

Match Summary:

Saints - tries: Morgan (3 mins), Roby (9 mins), Barba (27 mins and 79

mins), Percival (47 mins).

Goals: Richardson (4 mins, 10 mins and 28 mins)

Hull KR tries: Vaivai

Goals: Shaw (0/ 1)

Half-time: 18-0

Full-time: 26-4

Referee Gareth Hewer

Attendance: 9,405

Team - Saints: 23. Ben Barba; 2. Tommy Makinson, 3. Ryan Morgan, 4.

Mark Percival, 19. Regan Grace; 6. Theo Fages, 18. Danny Richardson;

10. Kyle Amor, 9. James Roby, 16. Luke Thompson, 17. Dom Peyroux, 11.

Zeb Taia, 13. Louie McCarthy-Scarsbrook,

Subs: 7. Matty Smith, 14. Luke Douglas, 15. Morgan Knowles, 20. Matty Lees.

Hull KR: 1. Adam Quinlan; 5. Ryan Shaw, 22. Liam Salter, 2. Junior

Vaivai, 37. Elliot Wallis; 20. Matty Marsh, 11. Maurice Blair; 23.

Joshua Johnson, 30. Joe Cator, 12. James Greenwood, 17. Chris

Clarkson, 34. Danny Tickle, 15. James Donaldson.

Subs: 8. Nick Scruton, 10. Mose Masoe, 13. Ben Kavanagh, 24. Chris Atkin.