A trip to St Helens for the opening match of the season was without doubt the toughest card Ian Watson’s side could be dealt when the fixtures were released.
The Grand Final winners under new coach Kristian Woolfe had kept faith with last seasons squad with no new faces arriving for 2020.
Salford arrived in confident mood after an excellent pre season training camp and three warm up fixtures. With Watson signing a new contract earlier in the week the Salford supporters were in good voice ahead of the kick off and yet again travelled in big numbers to add to the impressive atmosphere.
The Red Devils made a very positive start, hooker Joey Lussick was held up over the line before a Saints mistake led to a penalty which Tui Lolohea kicked Salford in front from 0-2.
A Lee Mossop mistake handed Saints an attacking opportunity and they built pressure forcing a drop out. A penalty followed on the next set and the bold hosts forced the pass. Zeb Taia sliced through to score a very similar try to the one he got the last time the two sides met in the Grand Final.
Arguably the biggest player on the pitch Alex Walmersley thundered on to the ball like a freight train for the next try. Scattering defenders to crash over. Lachlan Coote converted again, 12-2.
Rhys Williams came very close to scoring for Salford but agonisingly had a foot in touch to be denied.
Possession and territory being dominated by Saints gave Salford an awful lot of defending to do. Luke Yates put a terrific shift in and Niall Evalds answered every question asked of him. Salford’s star fullback came under increased pressure from plenty of attacking kicks but passed the test with an accomplished display.
Another Saints drop out just before half time led to a crucial third try. James Greenwood looked to have had the ball stolen but referee Liam Moore went the opposite way. From the next set Theo Fages threw a dummy before racing over to send the home side in 18-2 at the break.
Salford chanced their arm at the start of the second half and were unlucky not to score when a clever Kris Welham kick caught Saints out. Ken Sio touched down with the video referee ruling the try out.
Some sloppy play allowed St. Helens another attacking set. The ball fizzed across the pitch before Regan Grace glided over.
A lovely Salford move was finally rewarded when Ken Sio finished off superbly to squeeze in at the corner. Lolohea booted off the touch line to bring the score back to 24-8.
That’s as good as it got for Salford though, another polished attack from Saints led to a kevin Naiqama try.
Young star Jack Welsby scored two tries to take the hosts past the forty point mark. At just eighteen the youngster looked like a seasoned professional with some real quality play.
The final try of the night went to Walmersley as he charged at a tired Salford defence to seal an emphatic St Helens performance.
The Champions look like they will be the team to catch in 2020. With a team full of power and pace they play the game with a certain panache that is magnificent to watch a times.
For Salford it’s back to the drawing board with Toronto visiting the AJ Bell Stadium next Saturday. Coach Ian Watson will be expecting a reaction after a disappointing night. “They’ve taught us a lesson on how to play the game really simple, not over complicate it and turn the ball over in the right areas. Our last plays were terrible today so was our defence, we need to be better than that.”
St. Helens 48 Salford 8.