Roby leads Saints home after Salford threaten first night
St Helens 38 Salford 10
Dave Hadfield was a schoolboy convert to rugby league, the game which, one way or another, has dominated his life ever since. After working for newspapers in Shropshire and Blackpool (where he covered the fortunes of Blackpool Borough) he travelled the world, working mainly in Hong Kong and Sydney. He became The Independent's rugby league man in 1990 and has written five books on the game and broadcast extensively for Sky and the BBC. Dave played his last game at the age of 53 and would have set up a try if anyone could have been bothered supporting his break. When not writing about the sport, he now limits himself to a bit of tick and pass with his local club, the Bolton Mets. Family includes supporters - of varying degrees of dedication - of Salford, Wigan, Sheffield Eagles and St George Illawarra.
Saturday 11 February 2012
Three tries in seven minutes of the second half – two of them set up by Lee Gaskell – ensured that St Helens' first match at the brand-new Langtree Park ended in a convincing win. For 50 minutes, Salford threatened to rip up the script by out-playing their hosts, but once James Roby had brought Saints level there was little doubt about the outcome.
Royce Simmons, the St Helens coach, admitted that the atmosphere had affected his team in the first half. "Our ball completion was very poor and a lot of our blokes were trying to play as individuals," he said. For Salford's Phil Veivers there were good signs in the first half. "We were pretty happy with the way we were going and disappointed their [first] try was awarded," Veivers said.
Salford spent most of the first half auditioning for the role of party poopers. After eight minutes a superb pass from Joel Moon put Jodie Broughton over. There were signs of the occasion getting to Saints in some uncharacteristic errors. When Salford's second try arrived, it owed a great deal to Danny Williams, who flew out of the defensive line to flatten Chris Flannery and force a turnover. Then he was in action at the other end of the field, putting through a kick for Ashley Gibson to touch down.
Even when Saints did get into the game, it was through an unconvincing try, credited to Sia Soliola on the benefit of the doubt when he wrestled his way over the line and maybe, only maybe, forced the ball down.
After 10 minutes of steady pressure after the interval, a purple patch of Saints' scoring transformed the game. The impetus stemmed from their captain, Roby, who cleverly put his kick onto the upright and scooped up the ricochet to score. Four minutes later, Jonny Lomax chipped, Lee Gaskell gathered and Francis Meli was on hand to finish.
Salford had hardly begun to recover before Andrew Dixon took Gaskell's pass to extinguish any remaining hope. Jon Wilkin stretched the lead, going over with 13 minutes to play, before the Gaskell-Dixon connection worked again and Anthony Laffranchi scored.
St Helens: Hohaia; Makinson, Wheeler, Meli, Gardner; Gaskell,
Lomax; Puletua, Roby, Laffranchi, Flannery, Soliola, Wilkin.
Replacements used: Perry, Clough, Dixon, Ashe.
Salford: Patten; Broughton, Gibson, Moon, Williams; Holdsworth, Smith; McPherson, Howarth, Gledhill, Adamson, Ashurst, Wild. Replacements used: Jewitt, Nero, Sidlow, Owen.
Referee: R Silverwood (Dewsbury)
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