11th February 2018, 10:35 | super_league

Saints hold off Catalans

Saints hold off Catalans

Catalans Dragons 12-21 St Helens

St Helens maintained their winning start to the Betfred Super League season with a 21-12 away victory despite being reduced to 12 men against Catalans Dragons.

The visitors started the campaign with a resounding 46-6 win against Castleford Tigers in the opening round and they continued where they left off with Jonny Lomax crashing over to put Justin Holbrook's side 6-0 up in the second minute following good work from Ben Barba.

Winger Regan Grace extended their lead to 12-0 with a fine finish in the corner after another brilliant pass from full-back Barba to keep the hosts scoreless at the break.

However, it took Catalans just seven minutes to get on the scoreboard after the restart when Papua New Guinea captain David Mead crossed, with Lucas Albert adding the extras, before Morgan Knowles saw red for a dangerous tackle on Thibaut Margalet to reduce the away side to 12 men with 29 minutes remaining.

Dragons forward Benjamin Jullien was sent to the sin-bin for a 'crusher' tackle on Lomax after 54 minutes to level the playing field to 12 players apiece and Saints took full advantage with a great finish by Adam Swift, with Danny Richardson adding his third goal.

Alrix Da Costa crossed from dummy half to reduce the gap to 18-12 before Richardson added a drop goal to ensure the hosts needed two scores to get back into the match, but a penalty in the final minute from the young half-back secured back-to-back victories for Saints.

St Helens boss Justin Holbrook was delighted to watch his side emerge victorious in Perpignan, he said: “I thought it was a really tough game and a really tough 80 minutes. I thought Catalans really came at us hard and fought all the way and it took a special effort – defensively in particular – for us to get the win.”

“I’m really pleased to get a win here. It’s great that we can look to our players like Richardson, Theo Fages, James Roby, Ben Barba and Jonny Lomax that when times get tough we can go to those players.”

Catalans head coach Steve McNamara was positive despite watching his side suffer their second successive defeat this season, he said: “There was a lot of progression out there for us.

“We were all disappointed last week so we knew we had to be a whole lot better this week and we were.

“We got caught early on and that could have demoralised us but I thought we were very, very good. Saints are a top team but I thought we were very good against such a champion side.