St Helens 32-30 Salford Red Devils: James Bentley's late try thwarts visitors
By Sky Sports Rugby League
Last Updated: 20/05/19 4:44pm
James Bentley broke Salford Red Devils' hearts with just 35 seconds to go as his last-gasp converted try saw St Helens edge a see-saw Friday night contest 32-30 and maintained their unbeaten home record in Super League.
St Helens could hardly have asked for a better start, with two converted tries from Lachlan Coote and an unconverted score from Tommy Makinson putting them 16-0 up after just 12 minutes.
But the Red Devils roared back in style to lead by two points at half time as Gil Dudson, Niall Evalds and Derrell Olpherts all crossed the whitewash and Krisnan Inu kicked three conversions.
Further tries from Robert Lui and Evalds saw Salford push that advantage out to 14 points, but Coote and Makinson pulled Saints right back into the contest before Bentley got over late on.
It was a heartbreaking finish for Salford, who have not won at St Helens for nearly 40 years.
Coote scored twice in three minutes as Justin Holbrook's side made a perfect start. Coote's first came after a mesmerising 50-metre break from winger Regan Grace, during which he evaded four would-be tacklers.
A well-placed kick through from Theo Fages set up Coote for his second moments later, and with the latter adding both goals, St Helens led 12-0.
Fages' ingenuity led to Saints' third try in the 12th minute - his delayed pass sending Makinson in at the corner.
Salford, who struggled to get their hands on the ball during that blistering Saints opening, enjoyed a change of luck when Robert Lui's 40-20 kick gave them a rare sight of the opponents' try-line. From the resultant scrum, prop Gil Dudson was able to barge over for a try which Inu converted.
The try sparked Salford into life and, after winger Olpherts went close to scoring in the corner, a slip pass from Inu sent full-back Niall Evalds clear and he raced 80 metres to score under the posts. Inu added the goal.
With 11 minutes of the half remaining, Salford snatched the lead when a Lui kick to the corner was patted infield by Inu and Olpherts produced a determined finish to score from close range. Inu's goal meant Salford had completed an unlikely first-half comeback, leading 18-16 at the break.
The visitors continued where they left off after the restart with Lui's break and strength creating space for Evalds to go in for his second try, with Inu adding the conversion.
Lui took centre stage again on the hour mark, producing a superb solo try from 15 metres out and affording Inu a simple conversion to open up a 14-point lead.
But history has proved too many times that Saints cannot be written off in such situations and when Coote completed his hat-trick with 15 minutes remaining, another famous fightback seemed possible.
Moments later, Makinson grabbed a second with a stylish finish from 30 metres and Coote's conversion meant the deficit was just four points.
With time almost up, Bentley got the nod from the video referee after a barge to the try-line to make it 30-30 and Coote's conversion sealed a victory which had looked so unlikely for much of the game.
St Helens head coach Justin Holbrook was a relived man, but paid credit to Salford for their performance as well.
Salford head coach Ian Watson was left hearbroken, but proud of his side's efforts.
St Helens hat-trick scorer Lachlan Coote was named man of the match.