Today was a damaging day for St Helens in more ways than one.
The Champions suffered potentially their worst defeat under Kristian Woolf and possibly their worst loss since 2019 as they were beaten by Salford 44-12 with the Red Devils running in eight tries five of which came within the first half as they led 26-0 at the break.
Joe Burgess, Kallum Watkins and especially Tim Lafai were outstanding as the Red Devils dragged the Saints to a kind of hell in the Manchester sunshine.
The Saints did come up with tries through a mazy Jack Welsby run and a barnstorming effort from Alex Walmsley but both were mere consolation.
Also acting as a form of consolation was the fact Jonny Lomax passed a HIA test in the second half to return to the field of play though one man we may not see return to a Super league field again is Regan Grace.
An outstanding winger and a key figure in Saints’ threepeat side, Grace – after months of speculation – has signed a deal with rugby union side Racing 92 after plenty of interest from the other code as well as a very substantial offer from the Saints as they tried to keep the Welshman at the Totally Wicked Stadium.
Grace though was set to try and fire the Champions to more success in 2022 but it now seems like he may have played his last game for the club after suffering a worrying injury today.
Grace fell to the floor with no one around him which is always a bad sign. He then immediately went to his knee in pain.
79': That didn't look good. Grace falls to the ground un-opposed holding his knee…He is helped off the field.
👹 Salford 44-12 Saints ⚫🧊
— St.Helens R.F.C. (@Saints1890) July 31, 2022
The winger was subsequently helped from the field. It’s been a tough year for Grace injury wise as he had to wait until Saints’ win at Toulouse to make his first Super League appearance of 2022.
Jon Bennison has proven to be a good replacement but with Tommy Makinson and Will Hopoate out as well as Jack Welsby having to constantly change from fullback to halfback and vice versa due to the loss of Lewis Dodd, Bennison already has his hands full filling in other positions.
Tee Ritson is expected to be Grace’s long term replacement should the Saints lure him from Barrow but with this year’s transfer window now shut bringing him in early is not an option.
A player of Grace’s quality was already going to be a huge loss to the Super League product, so lets hope that it isn’t a premature loss either.
If this was to be his last game due to what looks like a very bad injury, there would be a certain irony to it with a win against Salford at Old Trafford still fondly remembered by Grace and other members of the Saints squad especially when contemplating Grace’s now iconic hurdling run through the Red Devils defence in the first half.