Saints ran in five tries to open up a four point gap at the top of the Betfred Super League table on Thursday – but they were made to work hard by a resilient Catalans Dragons.
Regan Grace crossed for a brace in the 26-12 victory, whilst Tommy Makinson, Jonny Lomax and Morgan Knowles also tallied tries.
Saints couldn’t match the free flowing rugby of their previous two wins but did produce some quality moments for the fans.
Jonny Lomax’s 10th minute try came from a Tommy Makinson chip and soon after provider became scorer as he took Danny Richardson’s crossfield kick.
The Dragons got themselves back into it when Brayden Williame beat Ryan Morgan to Josh Drinkwater’s kick.
But with seconds Morgan Knowles restored the advantage with a mazy run under the sticks.
Saints went into the sheds 16-4 up at half time and quickly extended their lead five minutes into the second half.
Fages took the line on at speed, linked up with Mark Percival and he sent Grace in for his third in two games.
It was a lovely move – but all that hard work was undone as from the restart, Saints overplayed, lost the ball, and Jodie Broughton went over in the corner.
Remi Casty went close on 60 minutes – and then Jon Wilkin had one chalked off for a double movement.
But Saints put the game to bed with 10 to go – and it came from another flowing move on the left hand side.
Grace notching his second after fine hands from Wilkin, Fages, Taia, Lomax and Percival.
Richardson tagged on the conversion – his third of the night before Lewis Tierney finished off a blindside move on the right to end the scoring.
— Betfred Super League (@SuperLeague) 4 May 2018
TRY! Regan Grace flies over in the far left-hand corner for Saints!
The extras miss the mark and a response from Jodie Broughton makes it St Helens 20-8 Catalan Dragons!
Watch live on Sky Sports Arena now! https://t.co/YfzxaH09Hp
— Sky Sports RL ? (@SkySportsRL) 3 May 2018
— St.Helens R.F.C. (@Saints1890) 3 May 2018
Justin Holbrook said there was only positive from the win over Catalans on Thursday … the fact Saints won.
His side didn’t hit the highs of recent weeks but came away with a 26-12 result to stay top of the Betfred Super League.
“I’m obviously really happy to win the game but both sides were probably below their best tonight,” he said. “The main thing is we came away with the win.
“It is hard for us, we have come off a couple of big wins and Catalans are a better team than where they sit. People see the table and assume the same kind of results but we knew it wouldn’t be.
“A lot of individuals were below their best, but I can’t really fault them. I was just happy to win a game like that.
“Positives? The fact we won is one. Tommy Makinson was fantastic and keeps delivering but as a group know we weren’t at our best.
“We came up with some nice plays to score some nice tries and were close to stopping a few of theirs. But the execution of some plays and the urgency to get on balls was all a little off tonight.
“To still win the game when we aren’t at our best is probably a good thing. I have no doubt it would have been hard to sit through, but the main thing is we won.”
Tries: Lomax, Makinson, Knowles, Grace (2)
Goals: Richardson (3 from 5)
Tries: Williame, Broughton, Tierney
Goals: Drinkwater (0 from 3)
REF: R Hicks
1. Jonny Lomax; 2. Tommy Makinson, 3. Ryan Morgan, 4. Mark Percival, 19. Regan Grace; 6. Theo Fages, 18. Danny Richardson; 10. Kyle Amor, 9. James Roby, 16. Luke Thompson, 11. Zeb Taia, 17. Dom Peyroux, 12. Jon Wilkin.
Subs: 7. Matty Smith, 13. Louie McCarthy-Scarsbrook, 14. Luke Douglas, 15. Morgan Knowles.
31. Tony Gigot; 2. Jodie Broughton, 16. Vincent Duport, 4. Brayden Wiliame, 20. Lewis Tierney; 6. Samisoni Langi, 33. Josh Drinkwater; 8. Remi Casty, 19. Michael McIlorum, 14. Julian Bousquet, 11. Louis Anderson, 21. Benjamin Jullien, 13. Greg Bird.
Subs: 10. Sam Moa, 17. Jason Baitieri, 23. Antoni Maria, 24. Alrix Da Costa.