A SUPERB first half performance saw Saints beat Crusaders RL 34-18 in Wrexham.
James Roby and the half-back partnership of Lee Gaskell and Jonny Lomax were in inspired form as Saints ran in five unanswered tries.
It ensured they climbed to second in the table but not before they fought off a spirited fightback from the Crusaders.
Royce Simmons’ men were simply irresistible in a first half that yielded five tries and some breath-taking rugby league.
They blitzed their opponents from the off with their fast pace, quick handling and attacking flair.
Tries from Jonny Lomax, Lee Gaskell, Paul Wellens, Ade Gardner and James Roby telling a tale of total dominance as Saints looked like scoring from every set.
Jamie Foster adding five goals to send them in 30-6 to the good.
The second half brought tries from Tony Martin and Lloyd White as Crusaders threatened a comeback but Saints did enough to hang on; Ade Gardner adding his second as the hooter went.
Consistency was the key with team selection as Simmons made only two changes from the team that beat Hull KR last week: Shaun Magennis coming in for Matty Ashurst and Jon Wilkin replacing the injured Scott Moore.
Crusaders could have called on Jarod Sammut but opted to leave him out of a strong looking home side.
Saints have made a habit out of starting poorly recently but made amends with two tries in the opening 10 minutes.
Firstly, good territorial possession saw Roby feed Lomax on five minutes to scamper and sidestep his way to the line – Foster converting.
And seconds later Lee Gaskell extended the lead further – Foster again successful.
It took Crusaders 13 minutes to get into Saints’ 20 on the back of two penalties – but some superb last gasp defence had them on their backs twice in the in-goal area.
Buoyed by that, six minutes later, Paul Wellens was strolling through a massive gap on the right for another try. Foster making it 18-0 from an acute angle.
Crusaders hit back when a high ball from Lloyd White was tipped back and put down by Gareth Thomas – Clinton Schifcofske adding the extras.
But normal service was resumed when the ball went right and Ade Gardner finished – his 157th try in the Red Vee.
And seconds later a wonderful break and pass from Shaun Magennis saw James Roby go in.
Foster tagging on his 33rd two-pointer of the year.
Half Time: Crusaders 6 Saints 30
Saints would have wanted to start the second half as good as the first but couldn’t have got off to a worse start as from Crusaders’ first attack; Tony Martin found space in the corner.
It was a fantastic pass from Michael Witt who then coolly added the conversion from the touchline.
It took Saints a good 15 minutes to regain their form but they eventually did; even if it didn’t add to the scoreline.
Jon Wilkin would count himself unlucky to be held up with an inch to spare from Jammer’s pass then Foster was inches away from touchline down Wheeler’s chip.
Crusaders then scored again in the most bizarre of circumstances. The ball went up on the last and was clearly tipped forward . Expecting the whistle to blow Wellens mopped up in his own in goal area.
But the referee strangely gave a drop out and after two strong drives Lloyd White scored.
The try knocked the stuffing out of Saints but Ade Gardner ensured there would be no need for late nerves with a clinical finish late on.
Tries: Thomas, Martin, White
Goals: Schifcofske (1 from 1), Witt (2 from 2)
Tries: Lomax, Gaskell, Wellens, Gardner (2), Roby,
Goals: Foster (5 from 6)
REF: Robert Hicks
1. Clinton Schifcofske; 5. Stuart Reardon, 3. Tony Martin, 2. Gareth Thomas, 4. Vince Mellars; 6. Michael Witt, 17. Rhys Hanbury; 22. Richard Moore, 19. Lloyd White, 10. Mark Bryant, 11. Hep Cahill, 12. Jason Chan, 21. Paul Johnson.
Subs: 8. Ryan O’Hara, 13. Frank Winterstein, 16. Ben Flower, 27. Jordan Tansey.
1. Paul Wellens; 2. Ade Gardner, 3. Michael Shenton, 17. Gary Wheeler, 22. Jamie Foster; 25. Lee, Gaskell, 20. Jonny Lomax; 10. James Graham, 9. James Roby, 8. Josh Perry, 13. Chris Flannery, 4. Sia Soliola, 11. Tony Puletua.
Subs: 12. Jon Wilkin, 15. Louie McCarthy-Scarsbrook, 21. Shaun Magennis, 28. Tommy Makinson.