SAINTS fell to their first double defeat by Salford for the first time since 1980 - and in may ways got their just deserts for some early errors and some disjointed edge defence.

Here are six talking points from this week's Set of Six.


1. Losing at Salford.

It is not the first time Saints have been done over at Salford – and it won’t be the last.

And Saints fans with long memories will recall some shockers at the Willows or the AJ Bell Stadium over the years – with sides bossed Alex Murphy (Cup game of 1988), Ian Millward (2004), Mick Potter (2009), Keiron Cunningham (2016) coming a cropper with the latest being the Tim Lafai-inspired 44-12 shellacking Kristian Woolf’s side suffered in 2022.

Although this was not a defeat on that scale, sometimes you get a feeling pretty early on that is going to be one of those games – and the warning signs came long before Salford’s late winner.

On the hottest playing day of the year so far, and coming up against a kicker in Marc Sneyd who can not only place precision kicks in attack but as importantly can boom the ball to the other end of the field, then failure to do basics can bite.

A number of times Saints lost the ball early on the set, once off the back of winning two penalties.

But a James Bell error, trying to force the pass, and Konrad Hurrell’s failure to play the ball correctly led to Salford tries in the subsequent sets.

And even after Saints got their noses back in front, they never seemed secure – and at times seemed to be outdone in the enthusiasm battle.


2. Salford's way of opening up Saints.

Saints have prided themselves on their defence this year – give or take the blip against Hull KR and the cup loss by Warrington.

In Super League games they have conceded 162 points, an average of 10.8. Salford’s strike record against Saints is more than double that with 44 points from the two encounters.

And significant has been the way have opened Saints’ stingy defence up – particularly for the winner in which they attacked from deep and found joy on the edge.

Having opted to go for a holding play, turning over on their last real attacking set of the game, Saints backed their D to deliver. So to come unstuck with some straightforward passing and support play was bitterly disappointing.

But some of the earlier scored were equally disappointing – from the first one to a simple blind-side trick play to Kallum Watkins’ one when he cashed in two Saints defenders going for the same high ball and was allowed to collect unopposed.


3. Start of a tough run of games.

A defeat at a Salford side that had beaten Warrington the previous week should not be classed as a catastrophe – but nonetheless it does sound alarm bells as it suddenly tightens up the top end of the table.

And the defeat comes at the start of a run that includes tough derby games with Wigan and Warrington.

Having soldiered on without a cluster of long-term casualties, they will be desperate to get skipper Jonny Lomax and vice captain Morgan Knowles back the week after next.

But that is not the cavalry arriving – Saints will have to massively up their game from what they produced at the weekend if they are to stay on the tails of the leaders…and then hopefully stay in a decent place for by the time Messrs Makinson, Walmsley, Batchelor, Whitley and Wingfield return.


4. Disciplinary loopholes.

Sione Mata’utia was give a one-match penalty notice for head contact in the game on Sunday.

However, he will be able to exploit the loophole that allows clubs to use Reserve team games to serve that ban when the first team have no game.

With it being an international break, Mata’utia will be able to count the Reserves clash at Warrington and be free for the Castleford game the following week.

Other players will be doing likewise – and it is within the rules, but it a loophole that needs closing.

Friendly games and international fixtures have also been used in the past to serve bans – but it would make more logical sense for a player to have been banned in a first grade game to serve that ban at that same level.


5. Scoring from a penalty kick.

Marc Sneyd’s clever kick wide from a penalty that led to a disallowed Salford try brought back memories of one Australia scored against Saints in the tour game at Knowsley Road in November 1978.

Kicking from the side closest the Popular Side and towards the Edington End the ball was lofted to the Main Stand corner where a Green and Gold flash swooped in and grounded. Try given.

The law has changed since then and if the kicker indicates a kick for goal, that is what they must do – and given Sneyd’s accuracy it looked pretty unlikely that a player of such marksmanship would skew the kick so badly. Coach Paul Rowley admitted afterwards that he did not know that rule, but it created a talking point.

One other thing to note from that was the huddle of Saints players taking water which may have caused some problems had the kick rattled the uprights and bounced out.


6. Credit to Deon Cross.

 Deon Cross grabbed Salford’s opening two tries to help make his mark on the Red Devils’ first double over Saints since 1979-80. He had scored the match-winner in the game at TWS in March.

The former Saints junior is a role model for players who are rejected by big clubs at a young age. His perseverance, plus the coaxing back into the game by Blackbrook coach Ant Walker, shows that there is always a way back in if you have the work ethic to back your natural talent. Hopefully, Cross and Matt Whitley can be used as examples to show there is a way back from rejection – even if that can be a painful and challenging way back.