Smith's treble stuns Saints

Salford City Reds 42 St Helens 34
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The Independent Online

Matty Smith, who is unwanted at St Helens, extracted a heavy price for Saints' decision to lend him to the opposition as he led Salford to a shock victory. Smith scored three tries and had a part in several others as the Reds turned the league table on its head.

With Saints engaged in a three-way Lancashire tussle, with Wigan and Warrington, at the top of Super League and Salford in their customary place near the bottom, few Reds supporters made their way here with a great deal of hope.

Salford had already shown this season, however, that they are capable of the occasional inspired performance and there were strong hints of that sort of form from the start. Within two minutes, they were ahead. Daniel Holdsworth, surely their best overseas signing of recent years, hoisted a high kick, Jonny Lomax couldn't hold it and the ball finished at the feet of Smith, who dribbled over the line for a try. The confidence that gave Salford was obvious in the way that Ashley Gibson then kicked from the wing for Holdsworth to catch the ball on the full for a second try.

Saints could find no rhythm, but they did get James Graham over from close range. Salford retained the initiative when Holdsworth's kick-off was allowed to bounce dead. From the subsequent possession, the Reds moved the ball for Gibson to squeeze in at the corner.

Kyle Eastmond's darting diagonal run brought a try that kept Saints in touch, but they were caught out again when Paul Wellens and Ade Gardner went for the same high kick from Smith, who seized upon the loose ball for his second try.

Saints were doing nothing special but they kept within arm's length when Wellens went over just before half-time.

Salford missed a chance to extend their four-point lead when Mark Henry went into touch after the break, while Eastmond had a try disallowed for obstruction. Smith completed his hat-trick from Holdsworth's clever kick, but heavy Saints pressure brought a reply for Gardner.

Gibson's opportunist effort kept Salford's noses in front after Nick Fozzard had been penalised in possession for raising his forearm. Graham was then credited with his second try, even though he appeared to have touched down short.

Jodie Broughton surged through to keep the Reds on course, before Scott Moore was awarded one on the benefit of the doubt. Eastmond's missed conversion kept Salford two points ahead until Smith's kick gave Ryan Boyle the clincher.

Salford City Reds Fitzpatrick; Broughton, Henry, Talau, Gibson; M Smith, Holdsworth; Boyle, Alker, Jewitt, Sibbit, Littler, Swain. Subs used: J Smith, Sidlow, Leuluai, Ratchford.

St Helens Wellens; Gardner, Gidley, Foster, Lomax; Pryce, Eastmond; Graham, Cunningham, Hargreaves, Dixon, Clough, Puletua. Subs used: Fozzard, Roby, Moore, Ashurst.

Referee T Alibert (France)