St Helens met with Salford Red Devils today in one of several all-Super League friendlies and the Red Vee flexed their title credentials with a strong win over a sorry Salford side.
The Red Devils had confirmed their squad numbers earlier in the week with just 24 shirts handed out highlighting a potential lack of depth, but against a good St Helens team they were played off the park.
Paul Wellens handed a debut to NRl recruit Waqa Blake with Konrad Hurrell taking the other centre role alongside him.
Beyond Hurrell’s inclusion, it was close to full strength with birthday boy George Delaney starting at prop alongside Alex Walmsley.
As for the visitors, they were without star signing Cade Cust whilst recruit Ethan Ryan also didn’t feature but it was otherwise much of their presumed starting 13 taking to the field.
Both teams confirmed a deep bench to ensure plenty of rotation and opportunity for their reserves and academy talent.
St Helens show title credentials in hammering of Salford Red Devils
Saints capitalised on an early error from Salford on their own line which allowed a fresh set which was concluded with Jack Welsby grounding the loose ball to open the scoring.
It got worse for Salford soon after with Fijian prop King Vuniyayawa sent to the sin bin for a late shot, the Saints then capitalising with Daryl Clark breaking free and running half the field to score under the sticks.
Seconds before Vuniyayawa returned St Helens added a third try with Welsby bagging his second following a George Delaney break, before Tommy Makinson walked in to make it 22-0 on the half-hour mark.
The first-half mauling continued with Joe Batchelor collecting Moses Mbye’s kick to send the hosts in 28-0 up, with huge questions to be asked of Paul Rowley’s side.
Salford did hit back after the break with ex-Saint Matty Foster scoring after good work by Tim Lafai, but Saints put the foot on the throat of their opponent with new signing Matt Whitley scoring to restore the 28-point lead.
With St Helens having made a number of changes at half-time, Paul Rowley did the same introducing a host of reserves with 25 minutes to play.
It got worse for Salford with youngster Dayon Sambou adding another for St Helens to make it 40-6, the speedster running the length of the field following a scrum on Saints’ own line.
Minutes later England Academy captain Jonny Vaughan exposed the leaky Salford Red Devils’ defence and it got worse for the Red Devils when Finlay Yates saw yellow for a high shot.
Saints ticked past the 50-point mark as Owen Dagnall scooped up to score with Paul Wellens’ side before the Red Devils did add a consolation try through Scott Egan.
Salford survived more embarrassment when a late Ben Davies try was ruled out by the video referee in the final seconds, but a 52-10 loss is an incredibly worrying scoreline as they close in on the eve of the 2024 season.
⏹ A big win for the Saints in our final Pre-Season Friendly against Salford!
— St.Helens R.F.C. (@Saints1890) February 4, 2024
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