Super League: St Helens 31-6 Warrington Wolves
|Betfred Super League|
|St Helens (18) 31|
|Tries: Taia, Owens, Swift 2, Walmsley Goals: Percival 5 Drop-goal: Smith|
|Warrington (0) 6|
|Tries: Gidley Goals: Gidley|
Matty Smith's first St Helens game since the 2010 Grand Final inspired a thumping win over Warrington, who are now winless in six Super League games.
It took half an hour to post the first points but Saints' triple flurry from Zeb Taia, Jack Owens and Adam Swift stunned the Wire.
Kurt Gidley crossed after the break to finally get Wolves on the board.
Mark Percival's goal, Swift and Alex Walmsley tries and a Smith drop-goal ended Warrington's comeback hopes.
Smith was brought back to his old club for 2017 after spells at Salford and Wigan, although a broken leg had delayed his second debut before this game.
Both Saints coach Keiron Cunningham and opposite number Tony Smith felt the pressure of disappointing starts to the season, but it is the latter who will be wondering where respite will come after making their worst start to the season since 2009.
The Wolves had failed to replicate their superb World Club Challenge performance against Brisbane Broncos in league games, but were defensively sound in the opening half hour having conceded first in past three games.
However, when they were eventually undone as Taia touched down James Roby's grubber it was the first of a quick-fire treble.
Owens tracked a Smith kick and Swift scored off a short-side move to leave Warrington punch-drunk at the break.
Warrington had a glimmer of hope when Smith's kick to touch went out on the full and from the resulting set Gidley raced through a gap onto Brad Dwyer's pass.
Jon Wilkin's kick found Swift for try number four and Smith's late drop-goal added insult to injury for the wounded Wolves before Walmsley crashed over to truly blow out the scoreline.
St Helens head coach Keiron Cunningham told BBC Radio 5 live sports extra: "I'm very happy, happy we've backed up two great performances, I'm happy how we approached, we didn't try to force issue, we built pressure after 25 minutes of a tough arm-wrestle and the weight of pressure told and we posted points.
"There were some really smart plays from key people at the right times that got us across the line. We lost a couple of games this season and won them if Matty [Smith] had been in our side. He's so influential, he's a leader and game management is second to none, that's why we brought him to the club.
"I knew Warrington would come firing, Tony would have have big words and they came out and played. Every time it sped up around the ruck they looked dangerous. The best thing was the response to that as we got back in our rhythm, were patient. It was a pleasure for the players, and we've done it tough. Lots of bad things get said about you at this club and you're expected to win."
Warrington head coach Tony Smith told BBC Radio 5 live sports extra: "I didn't think there was much between the two teams in the first half and they scored two well constructed kicks into the corner, Matty Russell made a bit of a hash of it, all he had to do was put his hand on the ball. But they were playing in the right end of the field for those errors to happen. We didn't put enough pressure on them.
"Next thing you look at the scoreboard, a couple of slip ups and you're 18 points down. The way we went about some of our defence was an improvement, but where we finished or sets, penalties and handing the ball over hurts us too much.
"It's tough, no-one wants to be in this position, it's hard work, dedication to your work. It's easier when your team is ripping it up and the players are getting all the accolades and so they should. Now this is where we earn our cash and earn our respect. We've got to handle this patch with dignity. I]m going to continue to work hard, be respectful about players and performances and we need to stay united."
St Helens: Makinson; Owens, Morgan, Percival, Swift; Fages, Smith; Walmsley, Lee, Douglas, Taia, McCarthy-Scarsbrook, Wilkin
Replacements: Roby, Amor, Walker, Peyroux
Warrington: Ratchford; Russell, Evans, King, Johnson; Brown, Gidley; Hill, Clark, Cooper, Westwood, Hughes, Westerman
Replacements: Sims, Dwyer, Crosby, Livett