St Helens 50-14 Catalans: Saints overpower Dragons to protect Super League lead
Last Updated: 29/04/19 9:20am
Matty Costello scored a second-half hat-trick as nine-try St Helens thrashed Catalans Dragons 50-14 to protect their four-point lead over Warrington at the top of the Betfred Super League table.
Centre Costello crossed three times in 21 minutes, with six other players joining in the rout of Steve McNamara's Challenge Cup holders.
Dragons, who ended St Helens' 100 per cent start to the season at Stade Gilbert Brutus with an 18-10 win on April 6, led 6-0 early on but did not threaten to complete an unlikely double over Justin Holbrook's seasoned trailblazers.
Since that defeat Saints have won four games in a row, including Wire and derby rivals Wigan, scoring 186 points, 112 in wins over Hull FC and now the Perpignan outfit.
The hosts led 16-10 after a first half of four tries, game-ending injuries for Dragons' duo David Mead and replacement Kenny Edwards plus a yellow card for Saints second row Joe Paulo.
Dragons, who lost Jason Baitieri in the warm-up, took a fourth-minute lead through the first of Brayden Wiliame's opening period double. Former Wigan star Sam Tomkins, jeered at every opportunity by home supporters, converted.
Play was suspended for nearly 10 minutes as medics attended to and eventually carried off Mead following an accidental but nasty collision with rival winger Regan Grace.
The stoppage affected Catalans more than Saints, who ran in three tries in the next 20 minutes - two improved by Danny Richardson.
Adam Swift, deputising for Tommy Makinson, Zeb Taia and then young hooker Aaron Smith, put the leaders in control.
Smith's try sparked a melee behind the posts with Paulo eventually yellow carded by referee Rob Hicks for taking exception to an apparent push by Tomkins on the scorer.
With Saints down to 12 players, Wiliame scored his second try after 37 minutes to leave the Dragons only one converted touch down from levelling in the second period.
Any comeback hopes quickly disappeared as rampant Saints struck three times in nine minutes to put the outcome beyond doubt.
French international Theo Fages crossed after 44 minutes, Dom Peyroux went over six minutes later before Costello became the sixth different try-scorer after a flowing cross-field handling move.
Richardson added two more goals to put the home side in cruise control but they were momentarily jolted out of any complacency by winger Lewis Tierney's 60th-minute try.
However, Saints' youthful side - without James Roby, Tommy Makinson, Mark Percival and Lachlan Coote - still had plenty in reserve.
Teenager Jack Welsby made it seven different scorers after 65 minutes before Costello completed his treble with two touchdowns in three minutes. Richardson finished with seven goals from nine attempts.