SAINTS sent out a clear message to the rest of Super League that they mean business following their 42-16 defeat of Leeds Rhinos.
They were simply breathtaking in attack with offloads galore and displayed the sort of handling skills only they are famous for.
At least three of Saints seven tries came from amazing passes – with Francis Meli, Sia Soliola and Jonny Lomax all starring.
But Jon Wilkin’s round the back ball to Paul Wellens was the real highlight.
Saints led 6-4 at the break after a real battle of a first half.
Both sides laid into each other from the off, with Sia Soliola and Tony Puletua laying the big hits that rocked Leeds on their heels.
But it was Kevin Sinfield that gave his side a 4-0 lead – with two penalties somewhat against the run of play – before Saints took their chance; James Graham barging over.
The second half began with a superb try from James Roby – and it had Jonny Lomax’ name all over it.
After Jamie Foster forced a drop out, the scampering scrum-half flew through the middle, took a high shot, swatted it off, and then found an amazing offload to his number 9.
Moments later, Francis Meli collected Kevin Sinfield’s chip-through and returned it 50 yards down the field.
And that man Meli provided the pass for Jonny Lomax to effectively clinch the match.
Soliola – who was Saints’ Man of the Match by yards – found another offload to put Scott Moore in, before Jon Wilkin bettered it with an out of this world ball for Wellens.
Lee Gaskell rounding it off in the final minute of time.
Saints are getting players back each week and this time Scott Moore and Tony Puletua came in with Tom Makinson taking over the wing berth from Ade Gardner.
But it was Leeds who were first on the board after Kevin Sinfield punished Jon Wilkin’s indiscretion in the tackle with a penalty.
And on eight minutes, they almost increased their lead but a wonder tackle from Lee Gaskell quelled the threat.
Saints got close from Wellens’ break that found Francis Meli and then Gaskell hammered a fine 40:20 to put his side in prime territory.
And after three strong drives, Gaskell’s kick saw referee Steve Ganson called upon to rule Michael Shenton’s grounding – correctly adjudging it to have been knocked on.
On 20 minutes, Roby broke from the base of the scrum to race 70 yards down the field, but an ankle tap by Brent Webb checked his stride and the ball went to ground.
Sinfield doubled his side’s advantage with a penalty on 23 minutes after Phil Bentham called Saints for not standing square.
Saints though were not in the mood to give up and after winning the ball back from a forward pass – and a massive Scott Moore hit – Jammer charged over.
Foster giving Saints a 6-4 lead they thoroughly deserved.
The rest of the half was a real slugfest with Leeds testing the Saints line on two occasions – but finding no way through.
Saints also had their chances, but went in 6-4 to the good at half time.
Half Time: Saints 6 Leeds 4
Saints couldn’t have gotten off to the best possible start in the second half.
A quick passing move saw Jamie Foster chip forward and gain a drop out from Brent Webb’s mistake.
And from the restart, Lomax ran at the defence, took a high shot, swatted it off and then got the most unbelievable offload out of the side to James Roby.
Foster making it 12-4.
Moments later it was 18-4. Saints caught Leeds napping and when they attempted to clear their lines with a Kevin Sinfield chip through, Francis Meli collected mid-air and went 50 yards.
And two minutes later it got better as Meli provided the pass for Lomax to get the clincher.
Leeds blasted the restart dead so from the penalty Saints got within inches and then Sia Soliola provided another wonderful offload for Moore to go under the posts.
What Sia can do, Wilko can beat – this time an out of the back door flipped pass, round his back, for Paul Wellens to cross.
Leeds pulled a couple back through Jamie Jones-Buchanan and Lee Smith, but Saints were never going to be denied a superb win – and Gaskell’s interception rounded off the perfect night.
Tries: Graham, Roby, Meli, Lomax, Moore, Wellens, Gaskell
Goals: Foster (7 from 7)
Tries: Jones-Buchanan, Smith
Goals: Sinfield (4 from 4)
REF: Phil Bentham
1. Paul Wellens; 28. Tom Makinson, 3. Michael Shenton, 5. Francis Meli, 22. Jamie Foster; 25. Lee Gaskell, 20. Jonny Lomax; 10. James Graham; 9. James Roby, 15. Louie McCarthy-Scarsbrook, 4. Sia Soliola, 12. Jon Wilkin, 11. Tony Puletua.
Subs: 7. Kyle Eastmond, 14. Scott Moore, 19. Andrew Dixon. 21. Shaun Magennis.
1. Brent Webb; 27. Zak Hardaker, 3. Brett Delaney, 2. Lee Smith, 5. Ryan Hall: 6. Danny McGuire, 7. Rob Burrow; 8. Kylie Leuluai, 9. Danny Buderus, 10. Jamie Peacock, 11. Jamie Jones-Buchanan, 12. Carl Ablett, 13. Kevin Sinfield.
Subs: 14. Ali Lauitiiti, 16. Ryan Bailey, 20. Weller Hauraki, 24. Paul McShane.