Ben Barba claimed a hat-trick as Salford Red Devils fell to a 10-60 home defeat at the hands of Betfred Super League leaders St Helens on a disappointing evening at the AJ Bell Stadium.
Alongside Barba’s treble, Ryan Morgan and Regan Grace each claimed a brace apiece whilst Tommy Makinson, Dominique Peyroux, Mark Percival and Theo Fages also crossed to secure a comfortable triumph for Justin Holbrook’s side.
Salford headed into the contest on the back of successive victories, but they made the worst start possible when Junior Sa’u gifted the visitors possession through an incorrect play-the-ball. The following play resulted in a try as Tommy Makinson latched onto the end of Ben Barba’s defence-splitting pass and emphatically finished in the right-hand corner with just four minutes on the clock.
Daniel Richardson was unable to add the extras but Saints did extend their lead soon after – Richardson’s looping kick caused mayhem amongst the Salford backline and the lively Makinson caught the high ball before finding the onrushing Dominique Peyroux who crossed over unchallenged.
On this occasion Richardson managed to convert the resulting goal and Justin Holbrook’s men were in again a minute later as Regan Grace broke down the left-hand side before flicking the ball infield to Ben Barba who slid over under the sticks despite the best efforts of Jake Bibby – Richardson again added the extras.
St Helens were running riot by this point and found themselves over again seven minutes later as Ryan Morgan fought off a number of Salford challenges before powering over from close-range before Richardson duly added the extras.
Salford regrouped and eventually clawed their way back into the contest as Tyrone McCarthy picked up a short ball from Logan Tomkins and touched down under the posts after bursting through a gap in the Saints line.
Jake Shorrocks successfully landed the subsequent conversion but the Red Devils almost conceded yet another Saints try – though Jonny Lomax was adjudged to have knocked the ball on by referee Chris Kendall.
The visitors weren’t to be denied for long however, Barba intercepted an offload from Josh Wood before racing 90m and crossing over for a spectacular individual effort – Richardson then landed the conversion to further increase the margin between the two sides.
Saints crossed over again when Peyroux touched down but the score was chalked off as Matty Lees was sent off after striking Niall Evalds’ head in the build-up.
However, St Helens were to have the last laugh as Regan Grace finished off a well worked move in the corner in what proved to be the final action of the half.
After the interval, the Welshman picked up where he left off and finished well in the left-hand corner following an enticing cross-field pass from Barba – Richardson added the extras.
The table toppers showed no misery towards the Reds and crossed over again moments later as Mark Percival finished off a break down the left before Barba grabbed his hat-trick with a simple finish under the sticks.
Salford were reduced to 12 men when Sa’u and St Helens lost a man of their own, albeit through injury as Barba was stretchered off after a nasty collision.
Theo Fages returned to haunt the Red Devils after his dummy deceived the Salford backline and allowed the Frenchman to touch down before Morgan touched down to secure his second of the evening.
Salford had the final say however as Kris Welham latched onto Shorrock’s grubber kick to claim a late consolation for Ian Watson’s side.
Salford Lineup: Evalds, Johnson, Sa’u, Welham, Bibby, Shorrocks, Littlejohn, Mossop, Tomkins, Burgess, Griffin, Lannon, Flanagan. Interchanges: Wood, Kopczak, Tasi, McCarthy.
St Helens Lineup: Barba, Makinson, Morgan, Percival, Grace, Lomax, Richardson, Amor, Smith, Thompson, Peyroux, Taia, Wilkin. Interchanges: Fages, McCarthy-Scarsbrook, Lees, Knowles.
Salford Scorers: Tries- McCarthy (28’), Welham (79’) | Goals- Shorrocks (28’).
St Helens Scorers: Tries- Makinson (4’), Peyroux (15’), Barba (16’, 35’, 60’), Morgan (23’, 77’), Grace (39’, 54’), Percival (56’), Fages (74’) | Goals- Richardson (15’, 16’, 23’, 36’, 55’, 57’, 61’, 75’, 78’).
Man of the Match: Logan Tomkins.
Referee: Chris Kendall. Touch Judges: Liam Moore & James Child. Video Referee: Ben Thaler.