Paul Wellens reveals what he told St Helens dressing room to inspire Salford Red Devils comeback

St Helens earned an 18-15 victory in the Super League.
Jack Welsby score a try for St Helens against Salford. Picture: Jess Hornby/Getty ImagesJack Welsby score a try for St Helens against Salford. Picture: Jess Hornby/Getty Images
Jack Welsby score a try for St Helens against Salford. Picture: Jess Hornby/Getty Images

SAINTS hardly laid a finger of note on out-of- touch Salford Red Devils in the first half of Sunday’s Betfred Super League clash at the AJ Bell Stadium.

Trailing 15-2 at the break - and deservedly so to a team which had lost its previous six matches - the reigning champions suddenly cut loose and gave a perfect demonstration of how to dismantle opponents who paid a hefty penalty after Dean Cross was sin-binned early in the second half.

By the time his 10 minutes ended, Saints had wrestled the initiative from the hosts with the final 18-15 scoreline maintaining their fourth spot in the table and crucially play their stand-alone game in hand on most of their Super League rivals when Huddersfied Giants visit the Totally Wicked Stadium on Sunday, kick-off 5pm.

After watching the champions - shorn of a host of first choice players at Salford - head coach Paul Wellens said: "I thought we were absolutely outstanding in the second half.

"It was pleasing as a coach that we were able to turn that one around. We put ourselves under pressure from the start against a Salford side possessing an attacking threat and will always challenge you.

"At half-time, we said 'we have got to create a game where we are comfortable'. We started to take opportunities and at the back end of the game, we finished a few things off.

"We were asking questions and building pressure. When we got that first score we gave ourselves a chance. What we had success with in the second half was being patient and they started to fatigue. It's a blueprint for us."

But Red Devils boss Paul Rowley was far from happy with the officiating - and made his thoughts crystal clear.

Rowley said: "That is three home games in succession that we have been let down by the officials and it's so hard to take.

" If we had won the game, I would have said exactly the same things. I'm usually a measured man but the gloves are now off.

"We've been on the wrong end of things in the past few weeks and I feel the game was decided by the officials. I don't feel I can be criticised for that. I will say my piece because I think I am a fair man.

"I'm normally pretty cool about how I deliver my message but on this occasion I felt the referee (Jack Smith) was weak."

Saints' Jack Welsby certainly did not fall into that category and for the second successive week played a major role, including a 69th minute try, which proved to be the final nail in the hosts coffin.

Jet-heeled winger Tee Ritson also made a significant contribution and seems to be improving all the time and can only get better the more games he gets under his belt, just like the other young and inexperienced players who have been forced to step into the breach during recent times and show their undoubted potential.

Salford: Brierley, Sio, Cross, Lafai, Burgess, Croft, Sneyd, Singleton, Ackers, Partington, Watkins, Stone, Addy.

Interchanges: Ormondroyd, Vuniyayawa, Atkin, Hellewell.

St Helens: Welsby, Makinson, Percival, Davies, Ritson, Lomax, Dodd, Lees, Roby, Delaney, Royle, Bell, Knowles.

Interchanges: Sironen, Norman, Baxter, Mbye.

Referee: Jack Smith.

Tries - Salford: Watkins (nine mins), Brierley (15 mins). Conversions: Sneyd (10, 16 mins).

Penalties: Sneyd (23). Drop goal: Sneyd (40 mins).Welsby (69 mins). Conversion: Percival (50, 63 mins).

Penalties: Percival (5).