Written by John Davidson
Photo by St. Helens RLFC
St Helens have got off their quest for a historic three-peat in convincing fashion, downing Salford 29-6 in Super League’s season opener.
Saints posted tries to Tommy Makinson, Regan Grace, Mark Percival, Kevin Naiqama and Alex Walmsley in the victory over the Red Devils. The match was not without incident, with new signing Agnatius Paasi suffering a concussion and Percival taken off in the second half as a precaution.
Paasi was knocked out at the kick-off of the second half when he tried to tackle Pauli Pauli. St Helens coach Kristian Woolf said the prop was OK but will miss round two’s encounter next weekend.
“The concussion did unsettle us, no one wants to see that happen to a teammate,” Woolf said.
“He’s fine. He’s recovered really well. But you certainly don’t want to see that. I thought he was really good tonight, he made some terrific carries.”
REACTION | Kristian Woolf was naturally pleased with his side's performance after Saints picked up the two points in our opening game of the 2021 Betfred Super League season! 😇
Watch full press conference on Saints TV 👇#COYS
— St.Helens R.F.C. (@Saints1890) March 26, 2021
Woolf believes centre Percival should be fine.
“He had twinge there,” he said.
“We don’t think it was serious.”
Saints led 13-0 at half-time and scored twice in the final eight minutes to blow out the score somewhat. But Woolf was happy that his team’s title defence got off to a winning start.
“I thought it was a good game of footy,” he said.
“I wanted to see us with a real hunger for the contest. It was a good tough game. The first 40 minutes we put our attack together really well.”
Woolf was also pleased with the debut of new signing Joel Thompson.
“We know what Joel is as a player, he works really hard,” he said.
“He’s a good, old fashioned second rower. I was really happy with what he did.”
Jack Welsby started at fullback in place of Lachlan Coote. Woolf explained that Coote is not injured, but was not at full fitness to take on Salford.
“He could have played tonight,” the Australian said.
“Lachlan’s had a couple of niggles in pre-season. With the new rules it doesn’t get quicker, there’s more work [as a fullback] to be done. He didn’t have the base, so we didn’t want to put him at risk. He should be available next week.”