12-man Saints produced a backs to the wall performance on Saturday to beat Catalans 21-12 in Perpignan.
Morgan Knowles saw red for a tackle on Thibaud Margalet in the second half but a try from Adam Swift, alongside a cooly taken one-pointer from the maturing Danny Richardson, saw them home.
Saints were full value for their 12-0 half time lead thanks to their goal line defence which was nothing short of sensational in the freezing temperatures.
Catalans didn’t go away though and after hitting back early in the second half through David Mead and then Alrix Da Costa, threatened to take advantage.
But as soon as Knowles left the field, Benjamin Jullien joined him for ten minutes and Swift pounced to maintain Saints good start to the new season.
This was a performance full of vigour and endeavour which began in the first few minutes.
Saints got off to another flying start when Ben Barba created the space for Jonny Lomax to score to the left of the posts in the first couple of minutes.
Richardson made it 6-0 with the boot before Luke Douglas and Tommy Makinson came up with vital defensive contributions as the home side turned up the pressure.
But Saints then doubled their lead.
LMS won a penalty after being up-ended on the half way line and from there, Barba attacked down the left and fired a cut out pass for Regan Grace to score his first of the season.
It was some finish too and equalled in no small part by Richardson’s conversion from the touchline into a swirling wind.
That’s how it stayed until Dragons’ David Mead came on to the ball at pace and burrowed over early in the second half.
It then got worse for the visitors as on the very next set Morgan Knowles lifted Thibaud Margalet and was sent off.
Parity in numbers came shortly afterwards as Benjamin Jullien was sinbinned for what looked like a ‘crusher’ tackle on Lomax.
Saints duly took control and landed what proved to be the winner. Back in the side because of an injury to Ryan Morgan, Adam Swift took a pass from his centre, went right, and then cut back inside to break two tackles and score.
Richardson nailed the extras and then added a drop goal in the 72nd minute after Da Costa had dove over from dummy half.
The game was then put to bed, as the hooter sounded, with another Richardson kick – this time a penalty as Theo Fages was hit late.
Saints now have a blank weekend before they take on Huddersfield.
There’s no rest though as they will train throughout and get themselves ready for the tests that lie ahead.
? Good win last night! We have reaction on the official site now and if you head over to our instagram page (saints1890) some other behind the scenes from the day too! #saintsandproud pic.twitter.com/Iw4GgwGabn
— St.Helens R.F.C. (@Saints1890) 11 February 2018
Holbrook: A Special Effort
Justin Holbrook was pleased as Saints won their second game of the season.
His side beat Catalans 21-12 despite playing with just 12 men for more than 25 minutes.
“I thought it was a really tough game and to be fair that is what we expected and got,” he said. “It was a tough 80 minutes. Catalans came at us really hard, as we knew they would, and it took a special effort from all of us, particularly in defence, to get the win tonight.
“It’s always a concern when you’re down to 12 men against an opposition who are coming at you really hard but I am really proud of the boys who lifted in that last 25 minutes.”
He continued: “We are very fortunate that we have lots of good attacking parts in the team. We got some good combinations going earlier in the game which got us the lead and we needed that in the end.
“To get the win here I am really pleased.”
Saints are next in action on the road at Huddersfield on February 23 before they host Salford at the Totally Wicked Stadium on March 2.
Tickets can be bought online here.
Tries: Mead, Da Costa,
Goals: Albert (2 from 2)
Tries: Lomax, Grace, Swift
Goals: Richardson (4 from 5)
REF: P Bentham
1. David Mead; 2. Jodie Broughton, 3. Iain Thornley, 4. Brayden Wiliame, 20. Lewis Tierney; 13. Greg Bird, 22. Lucas Albert; 8. Remi Casty, 19. Michael McIlorum, 15. Mickael Simon, 21. Benjamin Jullien, 12. Benjamin Garcia, 17. Jason Baitieri.
Subs: 14. Julian Bousquet, 18. Thibaud v, 23. Antoni Maria, 24. Alrix Da Costa.
23. Ben Barba; 5. Adam Swift, 2. Tommy Makinson, 4. Mark Percival, 19. Regan Grace; 1. Jonny Lomax, 18. Danny Richardson; 14. Luke Douglas, 9. James Roby, 16. Luke Thompson, 17. Dom Peyroux, 11. Zeb Taia, 12. Jon Wilkin.
Subs: 6. Theo Fages, 8. Alex Walmsley, 13. Louie McCarthy-Scarsbrook, 15. Morgan Knowles.