Super League: Champions St Helens off to winning start with 29-6 victory over Salford Red Devils


Tries from Tommy Makinson, Regan Grace, Mark Percival, Kevin Naiqama and Alex Walmsley sealed victory for Kristian Woolf’s side; Ken Sio’s converted try accounted for Salford’s reply

Last Updated: 26/03/21 8:25pm










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Highlights from St Helens’ 29-6 win over Salford in the opening game of Betfred Super League XXVI

Highlights from St Helens’ 29-6 win over Salford in the opening game of Betfred Super League XXVI

Kristian Woolf got the better of former assistant Richard Marshall as St Helens began their quest for a third-straight Super League title with a 29-6 win over Salford Red Devils on Friday night.

Tries from wingers Tommy Makinson and Regan Grace helped St Helens into a 13-0 lead at half-time in the opening match of the 2021 season at behind-closed-doors Emerald Headingley, having had two other possible scores chalked off.

New Red Devils head coach Marshall saw his side given a glimmer of hope by Ken Sio’s try 15 minutes into the second half, but one for Mark Percival on his highly-anticipated return to action after a 2020 disrupted by injury, plus others from Kevin Naiqama and Alex Walmsley, got Saints off to a winning start.

The reigning champions were ahead with barely three minutes on the clock, taking advantage following a knock-on by Salford in their 20-metre zone as Theo Fages hoisted up a testing kick which Makinson out-jumped Krisnan Inu to snatch and dot down.

Tommy Makinson got the ball rolling for St Helens with the opening try

Tommy Makinson got the ball rolling for St Helens with the opening try

The testimonial man – on kicking duty in the absence of Lachlan Coote – added the first of four conversions and kicked a 20th-minute penalty to keep the scoreboard ticking over for Saints after centre Percival had a possible try ruled out for a forward pass in the build-up.

Salford were not without opportunities of their own as their offloading game and some strong carries from Dan Sarginson in particular took them to within striking distance, but they were unable to make the most of those and compounded that by giving away penalties.

That allowed St Helens to exert pressure and they surged further ahead five minutes before the interval when Jonny Lomax, who had a try ruled out for a double movement earlier in the half, recovered a loose ball and sent Grace diving over wide on the left.

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Regan Grace’s try extended St Helens’ lead, despite it appearing like Mark Percival ripped the ball out of Kallum Watkins’ hands whilst being tackled by Agnatius Paasi

Regan Grace’s try extended St Helens’ lead, despite it appearing like Mark Percival ripped the ball out of Kallum Watkins’ hands whilst being tackled by Agnatius Paasi

It was a score that proved somewhat controversial as Red Devils centre Kallum Watkins felt the ball had been illegally ripped from his grasp in the build-up, but the video referee decided otherwise and backed up on-field official Liam Moore’s initial decision of try.

Last season’s Grand Final hero Jack Welsby then slotted over a drop goal on the final play of the first half, although Saints’ cause was not helped when they lost new signing Agnatius Paasi soon after the restart following a juddering collision between him and Salford forward Pauli Pauli.

The Red Devils struck back in the 55th minute on the back of a penalty as Danny Addy took the ball up to the line and Tui Lolohea flung a cut-out pass to the left which found wide man Sio in space to finish, followed by Inu converting.

Ken Sio's try gave Salford hope of mounting a fightback

Ken Sio’s try gave Salford hope of mounting a fightback

However, another high kick from French half-back Fages led to a third try of the night for St Helens on the hour mark as Percival leapt above Sarginson to grab the ball and finish for his first try since the 2019 Grand Final win over the same opponents, with Makinson adding the extras.

Percival went over for St Helens' third try on his return to action

Percival went over for St Helens’ third try on his return to action

Fiji international Naiqama got in on the act as the match moved into the final 10 minutes, scooping up the ball after Red Devils winger three-quarter Inu had put down a kick, and prop Walmsley rumbled over late on to continuing his try-scoring form from last year and put the seal on an opening-night victory.





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