Tommy Makinson contributed 28 points as St Helens showed signs of shaping up for their customary Betfred Super League title push with an emphatic 48-6 win over Huddersfield Giants in Newcastle.
Saints’ quest for a fifth straight crown may have been slow to click into gear since their sapping pre-season trip Down Under to win the prestigious World Club Challenge over Penrith Panthers.
But bolstered by the brilliant Makinson, who crossed four times and added six conversions, Paul Wellens’ men turned on the style in the second half to ultimately coast to victory against the below-par Giants.
— St.Helens R.F.C. (@Saints1890) June 4, 2023
It was a performance far removed from the inconsistencies that have blighted their campaign so far, illustrated by indiscipline in their Challenge Cup win over Halifax, and errors that almost cost them in last week’s dramatic golden point win at Leeds.
Saints did take some time to click into gear, but they turned a 10-point half-time advantage into a nine-try romp to simply flatten Ian Watson’s strugglers, who had set out in the opening 10 minutes with plenty of intent.
The Giants have singularly failed to live up to their own pre-season expectations this season and may have harboured a glimmer of hope of a change in fortunes themselves after Kevin Naiqama put them in front on six minutes.
The Fijian star reacted fastest to flop onto Tui Lolohea’s clever kick once it narrowly eluded his team-mate Jake Bibby, and Jake Connor kicked the conversion.
But Saints responded swiftly when Jack Welsby sent Konrad Hurrell zeroing in on the diagonal to haul them back within two points, and from the moment Welsby sent Mark Percival scurrying over against the run of play with 20 minutes gone, there only looked to be one winner.
The Giants’ cause was not helped by a yellow card for Luke Yates for diving in late on Makinson, and Makinson responded by lurching into the corner off a long Welsby pass to extend his side’s lead just past the half-hour mark.
If Huddersfield still felt in with a shout trailing 16-6 at half-time, it was swiftly extinguished when Louie McCarthy-Scarsbrook bustled over from Dodd’s inside ball within five minutes of the restart.
The Londoner’s effort opened the floodgates, as Makinson crossed for his second off a neat pass from Lomax, moments after having been denied an almost identical try for a questionable forward pass.
Hurrell went over and Makinson completed his hat-trick – all down the over-exploited right flank – as Saints went through the gears and extended their lead to over 30.
The one-man show continued as he crossed for his fourth off a Jonny Lomax pass with 12 minutes left on the clock, then his delicious backhand pass sent Joey Lussick galloping over before the 31-year-old fittingly rounded off the rout by arrowing over his sixth conversion from the touchline.