A last-gasp James Bentley try, converted by hat-trick hero Lachlan Coote, secured Saints a stunning 32-30 comeback victory over Salford Red Devils at the Totally Wicked Stadium on Friday night.
Saints trailed at the break 16-18 after tries from Gil Dudson, Niall Evalds and Derrell Olpherts cancelled out two early scores from Coote and a try from Tommy Makinson. Evalds and Robert Lui extended Salford’s lead after an hour to 16-30, before Saints came roaring back. Coote completed his hat-trick and Makinson brought Saints back to within four points before substitute Bentley, with his first Saints try, won it in the dying seconds in dramatic fashion with Coote kicking the crucial two to snatch victory from the jaws of defeat.
Saints started the game in an explosive fashion scoring three tries in the opening 12 minutes. The first one came through Coote who capitalised on great work by Regan Grace. The winger stepped past three Salford defenders and then fed the ball back on the inside to the on rushing Coote for his first try of the game.
Saints were in again in a matter of minutes and it was Coote again. Theo Fages provided the chip kick over the top and Coote raced through to collect the ball and score before adding the extras.
Saints were three scores up after just 12 minutes when Fages dummied and found the gap before feeding Makinson who crashed over in the corner giving Saints a 16-0 lead.
Salford pulled a try back after Dodson took a short ball and smashed his way over from close range with Krisnan Inu ading the extras.
The visitors were in again through Evalds. The full back was fed by Olpherts before running the length of the field to score next to the posts. Salford closing the margin to 16-12 with 23 minutes played.
Six minutes later and Salford had turned it right around after Olpherts picked up the loose ball to power past three Saints defenders to score. Inu adding the two giving the visitors an 16-18 lead.
The second half started with both sides exchanging sets and Salford continued to put pressure on Saints and it was the visitors who got the first points of the second half after Lui broke the line before feeding Evalds to score under the posts extending Salford’s lead to 24-16.
Salford were in again on the hour mark after Olpherts forced a Coote knock on and from the resulting scrum Lui threw the step and beat three Saints defenders to score. Salford led 16-30 with 20 minutes remaining and it looked like they were going to win at the Saints for the first time in nearly 40 years.
Cue the Saints come back.
THIS TEAM! ?
THIS CLUB! ?
— St.Helens R.F.C. (@Saints1890) May 17, 2019
Saints hit back within minutes as Fages found Zeb Taia and he palmed the ball back inside to Coote for the full back to score his hat-trick closing the gap to 10 with 15 minutes left.
On the very next set Saints were over again. Salford went for a short kick off which failed to pay off and Saints punished them. The ball was thrown out wide and a short ball from Coote found Makinson who flew through the gap and raced clear to score in the corner. Coote converted off the touchline to close the gap to four points with 10 minutes remaining.
With the West stand roaring the Saints on, we increased the pressure on the visitors and that pressure was rewarded in the dying seconds.
The ball was thrown out wide, before the composed Jonny Lomax fed Bentley who crashed over for the winning try which video referee James Childs gave and Coote kicked the two from in front of the sticks to secure a dramatic 32-30 victory.
Lachlan Coote, Adam Swift, Tommy Makinson, Matty Costello, Regan Grace, Jonny Lomax, Theo Fages, Alex Walmsley, Aaron Smith, Matty Lees, Zeb Taia, Dom Peyroux, Morgan Knowles.
Interchanges: Joseph Paulo, Jack Ashworth, Kyle Amor, James Bentley.
Tries: Coote (5,9,66), Makinson (12,68) Bentley (80)
Goals: Coote 4 from 6
Niall Evalds, Derrel Olpherts, Krisnan Inu, Kris Welham, Ken Sio, Robert Lui, Jackson Hastings, Lee Mossop, Joey Lussick, Gil Dudson, Josh Jones, George Griffin. Greg Burke.
Interchanges: Adam Walker, Tyrone McCarthy, Daniel Murray, Pauli Pauli.
Tries: Dudson (16), Evalds (23,54) Lui (61) Olpherts (32).
Goals: Inu 5 from 5