A win of any description for St Helens, over seventh placed Huddersfield Giants, would lift the red vee ahead of fierce rivals Wigan Warriors into top spot in the table. With the Giants reputedly down to sixteen fit players a win looked unlikely, and a win by the fifty points they needed to lift them above the Leeds Rhinos looked like an impossibility.
Saints themselves were rocked by another positive coronavirus test today, but it was a player who was not part of the squad for the last Saints outing against Hull KR last weekend, the player in question now in isolation.
Saints were big favourites with the bookies, the Giants having been given a twenty point start on the handicap coupon, and you could get odds of 10/1 on a straight Giants win.
A bit of luck brought the first four pointer for Saints, Lachlan Coote picking up an Adam Smith grubber which ricocheted off a Giants defenders legs and into the full backs hands. Coote added the conversion to his own goal for a 6-0 lead.
An Alex Walmsley offload found the supporting Aaron Smith to go between two Giants tacklers and dive for the line for the Saints second. Coote made no mistakes with the conversion for 12-0 after fourteen minutes.
On the Giants first real attack Sam Hewitt touched down an Ollie Russell high kick to the corner but the video referee ruled a knock-on in the build up.
A Huddersfield offload mistake gifted Regan Grace the ball on his own forty metre line and went sixty to score under the uprights giving Coote a simple kick to bring up 18-0 after twenty-five minutes.
A Coote penalty on twenty-nine made it 20-0 and it was already looking like game over and a Saints return to the top of the table.
Six minutes after the restart Owen Trout opened the scoring for the Giants wuth a debut try when he stole the ball from Louie McCarthy-Scarsbrook in a one on one tackle, twenty from the Saints try line and went over. Oliver Russell added the conversion to reduce the arrears to fourteen points.
Three minutes later McCarthy-Scarsbrook made up immediately for his error taking a James Bentley pass twenty from the line and storming over. Coote added the goal for 26-6.
Regan Grace got his second solo try on fifty-five, turning Lewis Senior inside out as he wrong-footed the Giants full back after a forty metre run down the left wing. Coote added his sixth goal of the night for 32-6.
Three minutes later Saints were in again as Matty Costello finished a fifty metre passing move after taking a Jack Wellsby pass, stepping off his right foot to go over. Coote made it seven from seven for 38-6 as the clock ticket over the hour.
Coote got his second of the night on sixty-two thanks to weak Giants tackling but he couldn’t add the extra two. Dominic Peyroux weaved his way through a broken Giants defence to score under the sticks on sixty-nine and when Coote added the conversion from the shadow of the sticks he made it 48-6.
The fifty came up on seventy minutes when Alex Walmsley bounced off the post pad and forced the ball to the ground. Cootes goal made it 54-6 and it had become embarrassing for the Giants.
The Giants were never in the game, on the back foot from the start, and found wanting in attack and defence. By contrast the Saints were on top form and they picked away at the Giants defence, exploiting every weakness to rack up fifty four points and return to the top of Super League.
Giants: Senior, McGillvary, Cudjoe, Turner, Young, Russell (G), Holmes, Gavet, O’Brien, English, Hewitt, Wardle, Wood. Subs: Butterworth, Wilson, Trout (T), Edwards.
Saints: Coote (2T, 9G), Grace (2T), Simm, Naiqama, Costello (T), Lomax, Welsby, Walmsley (T), Smith (T), Lees, Knowles, Bentley, Graham. Subs: Peyroux (T), McCarthy-Scarsbrook (T), Amor, Ashworth.
Referee: Liam Moore.
Ground: Emerald Headingley Stadium, Leeds.