St Helens 34-20 Salford

Niall Evalds

Salford Red Devils winger Niall Evalds has scored nine tries this season

St Helens bounced back from their Challenge Cup exit as they survived a Salford comeback to seal victory, despite Niall Evalds’ hat-trick.

Evalds gave the visitors the lead but Louie McCarthy-Scarsbrook and Mark Percival went over to put Saints ahead.

Dominique Peyroux and Jonny Lomax both scored for Saints either side of the break but Evalds completed a hat-trick to inspire a Salford fightback.

However, Theo Fages and Kyle Amor combined to put the hosts out of sight.

Saints moved up to fourth in the Super League table after Hull FC beat Wigan, while Salford remain 10th.

Keiron Cunningham’s side had lost 47-18 to Hull in the Challenge Cup on five days earlier but they scored six tries to defeat a resilient Salford.

Evalds’ hat-trick clawed the score back to 22-20 after the break, but ex-Salford scrum-half Fages went over to ensure victory went to the hosts.

St Helens boss Keiron Cunningham:

“It was a really good performance and the final scoreline did not justify the game. We bombed a few chances but all credit to Salford, who showed a lot of resilience.

“This club has a prestigious affiliation with the Challenge Cup and we have been hurting deeply all week but this was the perfect response. The players worked their socks off and big Alex Walmsley was back to his best.

“Young Morgan Knowles gets better and better and skipper Jon Wilkin ran his blood to water, it was between him and Louie McCarthy-Scarsbrook for man of the match.

“Our league form is pretty good and I am happy where we are heading. This game could quite easily have gone against us but we were the dominant team all night and deserved the win.”

Salford Red Devils coach Ian Watson:

“We were on the rough end of some iffy decisions by the referee. I told him after the game I didn’t think his performance was the best and he did not disagree.

“The Rugby League should not have put a young lad into a match like this. He was under pressure from the home crowd from the start.”

“It was a good response to what happened last week but we were a bit tentative in the first 30 minutes but then played with more confidence.

“Niall Evalds has lost his first-team spot to Gareth O’Brien but is a real team player and happy to play anywhere we ask. He has applied himself brilliantly.”

St Helens: Lomax; Swift, Dawson, Percival, Owens; Fages, Walsh; Tasi, Roby, Amor, Peyroux, Wilkin, McCarthy-Scarsbrook.

Replacements: Walmsley, Vea, Savelio, Knowles.

Salford: O’Brien; Carney, Sa’u, Evalds, Vidot; Lui, Dobson; Kopczak, Tomkins, Griffin, Murdoch-Masila, Jones, Lannon.

Replacements: Hauraki, Walne, Krasniqi, Joseph.

Referee: Chris Kendall

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