MATT Whitley was grinning from ear-to-ear after he marked his homecoming to the club that rejected him as a junior with two well-taken tries in Saints’ 40-4 romp in Friday’s Super League opener.

Being serenaded by the West Stand on the lap of honour was the icing on the cake for the new recruit, who has returned to his home town club via Widnes and Catalans and seems intent on making up for lost time.

Whitley’s late second half brace was part was a straightforward eight-try romp over the Super League newcomers which was illuminated by many bright passages of play, interspersed with some inevitable flat patches.

If anything the bumper 14,058 crowd was spoilt with the early offerings when two breaks from the outstanding James Bell yielded scores for the supporting Lewis Dodd and Jack Welsby.

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Bell continues to provide some wonderfully creative touches in the middle unit, with those around him alert to the Scottish international's ability to prise a gap and pick a pass.

10 points in as many minutes raised expectations that Saints were going to let rip and rattle up a cricket score, but London showed their pluck and refused to roll over.

Early days and the opposition will get tougher, but Saints’ support play was a promising sign of improvement on last year with plenty of bodies in the frame when they made a break.

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Alex Walmsley, who had a strong game in the metre-making strakes with his big stride eating up 188 in his two stints, was rewarded with his 50th try in the red vee when he galloped on to Daryl Clark’s smart break and pass from dummy half.

No wonder the big Yorkshireman was smiling - for very different reasons he is another keen to make up for lost time.

Test hooker Clark made a try-scoring senior debut and was always busy on both sides of the ball - showing what an asset he will be in the red vee.

With Moses Mbye missing this game with a knee injury, Clark played 73 minutes – but still looked like he had plenty left in the tank.

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It was also a landmark day for new skipper Lomax, who threw his trademark long pass wide for wing Tommy Makinson to score in the corner.

And then he grabbed one himself, late in the game, when he backed up a Konrad Hurrell bust to race over in front of a re-awakened West Stand with his tongue out.

Coach Wellens, however, highlighted the moment in the second half where he pulled off a desperation tackle on London's runaway centre Hakim Miloudi to snuff out what would have been a second score to the visitors.

It was a game in which Saints were always going to be on a bit of a hiding to nothing, but as cobweb blasting exercises go they will be better for the run out as they continue to adjust to personnel and rule changes in 2024.

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Saints: Welsby; Makinson, Hurrell, Percival, Blake; Lomax, Dodd; Walmsley, Clark, Lees, Whitley, Sironen, Bell. Subs: Mata'utia, Wingfield, Delaney, Davies.

London: Leyland; Kershaw, Storey, Miloudi, Macani; Campagnola, Meadows; Butler, Davis, Kennedy, Lovell, Adebiyi, Parata. Subs: Davies, Stock, Williams, Waine.

Attendance: 14,058.