sport

Lomas propels Saints to big win

Jonny Lomax scored a hat-trick of tries as St Helens got their season up and running with a ruthless 36-10 demolition of Bradford.

Saints coach Nathan Brown responded to a disappointing start to his time in charge by shaking up his side and the changes paid off handsomely with a seven-try rout of an out-of-sorts Bulls at Odsal's Provident Stadium.

The result helped banish memories of a 12-8 defeat in the corresponding match last March which cost another Australian, Royce Simmons, his job.

Like then, Saints found themselves ninth in the table after a three unimpressive performances but on this form they will soon be back challenging for a top-four spot.

It also sets Brown's team up nicely for next Friday's clash with champions Leeds at Langtree Park.

Brown's decision to switch Lomax from scrum-half to full-back in the absence of injured skipper Paul Wellens proved to be a particularly inspired move.

He dropped Lee Gaskell and Tom Makinson and brought in Gary Wheeler for his first appearance of the season in a new half-back pairing with acting captain Jon Wilkin.

Brown also gave a debut to 21-year-old prop Anthony Walker, one of three players on the bench with just five substitute appearances between them, and will be delighted with the promise they showed.

The star of the show, however, was Lomax, who opened the scoring with his first try after only two minutes after Wilkin's kick had set up a repeat set of tackles.

Willie Manu added a second - his first for the club - five minutes later, breaking through the first line of defence and wrong-footing full-back Brett Kearney, and it was quickly 16-0 when prop Anthony Laffranchi took James Roby's short pass to crash over.

Unable to get a foothold in the game, it got worse for Bradford when Lomax took Wilkin's pass and jinked his way past flat-footed defenders for his second try on 23 minutes.

A first penalty to the home side after 30 minutes brought the biggest cheer from the frustrated Bulls fans and Bradford eventually began to ask a few questions of the St Helens defence.

Centre Matty Blythe squandered a glorious chance and scrum-half Jarrod Sammut was close to touching down Jamie Langley's kick but Saints extended their lead to 26-0 by half-time when prop Tony Puletua twisted and turned his way out of a three-man tackle to plant the ball on the line.

The Bulls pulled a try back six minutes into the second half when Blythe carved out an opening for Kearney but the respite was short-lived.

Lomax supported a break down the wing by Francis Meli to complete his hat-trick on 69 minutes and Wheeler kicked his fourth goal before winger Ade Gardner marked his first appearance of the season with the visitors' sixth try.

The Bulls were well beaten but at least they had the final say when winger Elliott Kear grabbed a last-minute consolation try and former St Helens favourite Jamie Foster added the conversion.