JUSTIN Holbrook paid tribute to his side’s composure after they held their nerve to pull off a late 32-30 win over Salford.

Trailing 30-14 with 15 minutes to go it seemed that Saints’ unbeaten home record against the Red Devils that has stood for 39 years was going to end.

At that stage Salford were in control after rattling in 30 unanswered points, but the re-introduction of Alex Walmsley off the bench had a massive impact.

And roared on by the choristers in the West Stand, Saints found a way back in with Lachlan Coote completing his hat-trick, Tommy Makinson dashing in for an invaluable second and James Bentley grabbing the winner.

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Afterwards Holbrook beamed when he said: “ I said last week I was just happy to win, but I was definitely happy to win that one tonight.

“What an entertaining game of rugby league.

“I guess we started great – we flew out of the blocks and then Salford got some opportunities and took them.

“We started well but we just made a couple of errors – Salford are good enough and we gave them a chance.

“They are a dangerous attacking team so while we will be hard on ourselves for opening the door to them. Credit to them for doing something about it and they put some good tries on us.

“They got on top in that second half.”

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Just like the game two years ago when Saints trailed to the Red Devils, only to snatch the spoils, this one was a similar heart-breaker for the travelling fans, particularly after Rob Lui had sidestepped his way over from the scrum on the hour mark.

Holbrook singled out a couple of players in particular for praise in changing the momentum – but also hailed the calmness of his playmakers.

“A massive credit to the players for finding a way to storm back and go on and win the game.

“I thought Big Al and Tommy Mak really turned the game in our favour in that second half.

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“The good thing was we stayed calm. The key playmakers were important. Cootey had a mixed bag, but I thought him Theo and Jonny late in the game did not panic, which they could have when we were down by 14.

“I am really pleased how we handled it and you have got to win all different ways during the year.

“You are not going to have it all your own way all the time and we didn’t tonight.

“To come out of the win, and learn a lot,” he said.

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“We were in a real tough spot there and Big Al and Leesy coming back on played a part and we came up with some big plays.”

Saints were without their three longer term casualties with Kevin Naiqama and James Roby also missing the game.

It meant an opportunity for James Bentley off the bench – and he took it with both hands for the winner – even if it took an agonising wait to get the thumbs up.

“It was great for James Bentley to get another run with us and then score. He came close once or twice before that too.

“For him to get it down, good for him, but all of our players had worked hard for that opportunity and he got the chance to score the winning try.

“I am sure he will remember that for a while – and so he should.

“That is a big win tonight. I am not downplaying Salford because when they get it right they have shown they are very hard to beat.

“I think everyone will get something out of that.

“It was a cracking game of rugby league, that is for sure.”

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Afterwards Holbrook made a beeline for the West Stand to thank the fans for their vocal support when the going was tough.

He said: “The fans really lifted the players. You need your home fans to make a difference. The boys had to find some energy from somewhere because it was all going the other way against.

“Our fans play a big part and really lifted the boys so I am obviously happy for them too.”

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