Impressive Saints kicked off the Betfred Super League restart in commanding fashion after three tries in each half secured a 34-6 victory over Catalans Dragons on an afternoon when James Graham made his return to the club.
Graham started the game after Matty Lees dropped out overnight through illness and he led from the front with an energetic and commanding performance which set the tone for Saints.
It was a frantic, end to end start, with both teams clearly excited to be back playing Super League. Saints in particular looked sharp and opened the scoring through a penalty in the 12th minute after Morgan Knowles was caught off the ball,. Lachlan Coote converted to give Saints a 2-0 lead.
Three minutes later, Coote was involved again, this time scoring the first try of the game. Mark Percival, back in the centres, did brilliantly to keep the ball alive, he found Theo Fages who found Zeb Taia and his pass was brilliantly palmed to Coote who reached for the line to score! Coote was unable to convert, giving Saints a 6-0 lead.
Saints continued to crank up the pressure, and in the 26th minute, the impressive James Bentley, playing in the second row for the injured Dom Peyroux, added a second of the game. Coote kicked a brilliant grubber across the floor, and Bentley raced the defender, beating him to touch down the ball in the far right corner. Coote was unable to add the conversion, leaving the score 10-0 after 28 minutes.
Taia went on to get a try of his own in the 32nd minute, after Jonny Lomax broke down the left and played a short pass to Taia who broke through the line to score. Coote this time converted to give Saints a 16-0 lead after 34 minutes.
Saints started the second half how they ended the first, with Coote grabbing his second try in the 45th minute. Some scintillating offloads between Taia and Louis McCarthy-Scarsbrook, found Coote on the inside and he was able to wander through the defence to go over for Saints’ fourth. He added the conversion to his try, giving Saints a 22-0 lead.
Tommy Makinson then got in on the act with an outstanding individual effort; skipping round the Dragons defence. He started on the right touchline, before cutting back inside and going over through a gap in the defence to score. Coote converted to give Saints a 28-0 lead with 53 minutes played.
Catalans got themselves on the score board in the 61st minute, James Maloney finding a rare gap in the Saints defence and strolled in to score under the sticks. He kicked the conversion, leaving the score 28-6 after 62 minutes.
But Alex Walmsley had the final say as he barged over for his third of the season in the 71st minute. The big prop forward powerfully drove through Julien Bousquet to power his way over after Bentley had offloaded to Fages, who found the big man to score. Coote kicked the conversion and Saints kicked off the Super League restart in impressive fashion.
Saints 13: Lachlan Coote, Tommy Makinson, Kevin Naiqama, Mark Percival, Regan Grace, Jonny Lomax, Theo Fages, Alex Walmsley, James Roby, James Graham, Zeb Taia, James Bentley, Morgan Knowles.
Interchanges: Louis McCarthy-Scarsbrook, Kyle Amor, Aaron Smith, Joe Batchelor.
Tries: Coote (15, 45), Bentley (26), Taia (32), Makinson (53), Walmsley (71)
Goals: Coote (4)
Penalties: Coote (12)
Catalans: Arthur Morgue, Tom Davies, Samisoni Langi, Israel Folau, James Maloney, Josh Drinkwater, Benjamin Garcia, Matt Whitley, Joel Tomkins, Remi Casty, Micky McIlorum, Julian Bousquet.
Interchanges: Sam Moa, Alrix Da Costa, Jason Baiteiri, Sam Kasiano.
Tries: Maloney (62)
Half time: 16-0
Full Time: 34-6
Referee: Ben Thaler