Yates’ verdict: Slick Saints too cool for London

James Roby in action during Saints win over London
James Roby in action during Saints win over London

Our rugby league writer John Yates gives his verdict on Saints’ 58-16 win in the capital.

Centre Mark Percival - handed kicking duties in the absence of Aussie playmaker Luke Walsh - bagged a personal 22-point haul as Saints ran in 11 tries against an experimental London side which had an average age of just 21.

Ahead of the contest, Oscar Thomas was drafted in at full-back for the Broncos mere days after rejoining from London Irish, while Mike McMeeken replaced Saints-bound Atelea Vea.

Saints made two changes from their last outing against Bradford, with Matty Dawson and Josh Jones brought in for Tommy Makinson and Willie Manu.

It did not take long for the visitors to hit their stride either. Lance Hohaia broke the line to allow Percival to burst over for the game’s first try after just seven minutes.

Within five minutes the lead was doubled when fit-again prop Kyle Amor muscled through three tackles to touch down.

Jordan Turner was the next to canter over after a strong run from giant prop Alex Walmsley.

The Londoners did get on the scoreboard midway through the half, profiting from a St Helens mistake as Woodburn-Hall raced home after a Jon Wilkin kick was charged down.

That proved a brief respite though, as the visitors notched their fourth try moments later when Turner took a short pass from James Roby to ease over for his second score.

By the half-hour mark, the score was already 28-6. Paul Wellens added his name to the scoresheet when he strolled over after gathering a loose pass from Hohaia.

To their credit, the hosts came close to conjuring a second try moments before the break, but Thomas was just unable to gather after an excellent offload from McMeeken.

Normal service was resumed on 47 minutes, though, when Percival helped himself to his second try after a flowing handling move involving Roby and Turner.

London’s Will Lovell then notched the host’s second try when he took an excellent pass from Josh Drinkwater.

The searing heat seemed to sap the energy out of the contest, with the visitors seemingly content to sit in second gear and only occasionally flicker into life.

And that slackness allowed the Broncos to come up with their third try on the hour mark. Denny Solomona leapt highest to claim a clever Drinkwater kick and crash over.

Stung into action, Saints ran in their seventh try minutes later, with Dawson racing over after a strong run from Turner.

An eighth score came with 10 minutes remaining when Luke Thompson burst over after the London defence was stretched left and right.

Canberra Raiders-linked Sia Soliola then added a further score straight from kick-off, outstripping the entire Broncos side on his way to the line.

There was still time for two more Saints scores too. First, Anthony Laffranchi charged over from close range, then Dawson burst over in the corner following more good work by Turner.