St Helens started the new Super League season with a routine 30-16 win over Huddersfield Giants.
In sodden and muddy conditions at Langtree Park, a workmanlike performance by the Saints forwards was backed up by an impressive showing from halves Jordan Turner and Luke Walsh as they ran in five tries.
The Giants were hampered by injuries to key men Danny Brough and Scott Grix, though at least were shown some respect for their efforts by Walsh’s decision to make sure of the points with a penalty in the final five minutes.
Back to back penalties helped march Saints up the pitch for the first try on six minutes. Jon Wilkin took the ball to the line and then put a smart short kick in that was touched down by Mark Percival for the first of the centre’s two tries.
Despite that score, it was a relatively even opening and Huddersfield levelled things up on 13 minutes when Aaron Murphy took advantage of an overlap on the left to score after three repeat sets on the Saints line.
Such was the midfield battle that Saints’ second try also came off a kick, a neat pick-up and touchdown by big forward Atelea Vea from Walsh’s grubber kick enabling Saints to open up at 10-4 lead.
They stretched their lead to two scores by the interval, Percival taking a short pass off debutant Jack Owens to score down the left.
Without talisman Brough in the second half, Huddersfield fell further behind with a soft score as Turner took on a few men and found the line and despite a reply from Ukuma Ta’i, Saints looked well in control when Luke Thompson made it 26-10.
A controversial score awarded to Jake Connor, who didn’t appear to ground the ball clearly a few tackles after a dubious 40/20, gave Huddersfield hope with 10 minutes to go.
But they didn’t back it up with any real chances, at least after a Kruise Leeming break broke down, and after a missed drop goal attempt, Walsh nudged over a penalty to end the game as a contest.
St Helens: Jack Owens, Tommy Makinson, Dominque Peyroux, Mark Percival, Adam Swift, Jordan Turner, Luke Walsh, Kyle Amor, James Roby, Lama Tasi, Jon Wilkin, Atelea Vea, Louie McCarthy-Scarsbrook. Interchanges: Alex Walmsley, Greg Richards, Andre Savelio, Luke Thompson.
Tries: Percival 2, Vea, Turner, Thompson. Goals: Walsh 5.
Huddersfield Giants: Scott Grix, Jermaine McGillvary, Leroy Cudjoe, Jake Connor, Aaron Murphy, Danny Brough, Jamie Ellis, Sam Rapira, Ryan Hinchcliffe, Eorl Crabtree, Ukuma Ta’ai, Michael Lawrence, Larne Patrick. Interchanges: Daniel Smith, Josh Johnson, Kruise Leeming, Oliver Roberts.
Tries: Murphy, Ta’ai, Connor. Goals: Brough, Ellis.
Referee: Robert Hicks