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Lance Hohaia's form epitomises Saints' growing self belief
IT says everything about the job Mike Rush and Keiron Cunningham are doing that such a comprehensive victory is now regarded as a matter of routine.
Yes, this was against a dreadfully out of form Huddersfield side, but several months ago even the most optimistic Saints follower would have found it hard to foresee their side disposing of opponents with such style and ruthlessness.
As Eamonn McManus, the Saints chairman, wrote in his programme notes beforehand, the temporary coaching team are offering much more than a steadying hand.
They have injected a self belief in a team that has now won six successive games, building momentum that is looking ominous ahead of the play offs.
No player epitomises that more than Lance Hohaia. Against the Giants he excelled, backing up a fine performance against Catalan with another man of the match display.
The Kiwi cruised over for another classy score – Saints’ fourth inside 25 minutes, after his show and go bamboozled the leaden footed Giants’ defence.
Hohaia, who appears to playing with greater directness, is beginning to show the guile the Saints faithful expected when he was brought from the NRL on a four year contract.
Rush, for his part, has never doubted his number six's ability.
“Lance Hohaia is an international footballer of high quality. He took his try really well and he’s fixing defenders in the middle,” said the coach, whose team moved back above Catalans into third place in the Super League table.
“He was man of the mach for Sky in Catalans last week and was the club man of the match tonight. He’s in good form.”
If it was the stand off who impressed early on, then it was the magnificent James Roby, who caught the eye in the second half.
After a free scoring opening 40 minutes, which left Saints 28-12 ahead at the interval, there was no change for some 20 minutes until Roby burst into life.
Firstly, the hooker dummied out of acting half back before slipping an inside pass that sent Anthony Laffranchi through a gaping hole around the tryline.
He then went on a 40-metre charge to the line for trademark try that was all his own making, before he supplied the pass that sent skipper Paul Wellens over for the evening's final try.
Rush added: “James is a hell of a player. I’ve said it previously, he and Cameron Smith are the best two hookers in the world. “The try (scored by Laffranchi) was one off the training ground, so fair play to the boys on that one.
“I think Kez (Keiron Cunningham, the assistant coach) took great joy in that.”
Tommy Makinson was another to enjoy an impressive night's work, with a try and seven conversions.
It was the young winger's early try that started the scoring, as he showed strength and balance to absorb the tackle of Luke George and force the ball down with one hand.
Jonny Lomax also registered a try during the early burst as he exchanged passes with Chris Flannery and Francis Meli gave another example of ruthless finishing as he barged through two covering tacklers to score his 14th of the season.
Keith Mason did respond against his former club but Hohaia then ghosted over for his solo effort and Louie McCarthy Scarsbrook wrestled the ball down for Saints' fifth inside 27 minutes.
The Giants did score another, when Scott Grix darted under the posts after a Danny Brough kick had taken a wicked bounce.
But despite Huddersfield’s new coach, Paul Anderson, believing at half time that his team was capable of turning around a 16-point deficit, Saints were in no mood for dropping their guard.
Second-placed Warrington, next Monday night, will no doubt present a much stiffer examination.
But it says everything about the job Rush and Cunningham are doing that Saints supporters will be confident of victory.
FT: St Helens 46 Huddersfield 12
Saints: Wellens; Makinson, Shenton, Jones, Meli; Hohaia, Lomax; Perry, Roby, Laffranchi, Flannery, Soliola, Wilkin. Subs: McCarthy-Scarsbrook, Flanagan, Clough, Dixon.
Tries: Makinson, Lomax, Meli, Hohaia, McCarthy-Scarsbrook, Laffranchi, Roby, Wellens.
Goals: Makinson (7)
Huddersfield: Eden; Cudjoe, Lawrence, Gilmour, George; Grix, Brough; Crabtree, Robinson, Mason, Ferres, Chan, Fa'alogo. Subs: Faiumu, Patrick, Lee, Moore.
Tries: Mason, Grix
Goals: Brough (2)