|Betfred Super League|
|Huddersfield Giants (0) 6|
|Try: Trout Goal: Russell|
|St Helens (20) 54|
|Tries: Coote 2, Smith, Grace 2, McCarthy-Scarsbrook, Costello, Peyroux, Walmsley Goals: Coote 9|
St Helens thrashed an injury-ravaged Huddersfield Giants side with a devastating nine-try display.
Tries from Lachlan Coote, Aaron Smith and Regan Grace put Saints 20-0 up at the break against a side that struggled for a full complement of fit players.
Owen Trout responded with a try on his debut just after the interval.
Further tries from Grace, Coote, Louie McCarthy-Scarsbrook, Matty Costello, Dominique Peyroux and Alex Walmsley completed victory for the champions.
The win was enough to move Kristian Woolf's side top of Super League, while Huddersfield remain seventh in the table after suffering a fourth-straight defeat since action resumed following the coronavirus-enforced break.
Giants boss Simon Woolford, who in the lead-up to to game said he expected to leave at the end of the season, struggled to name a 21-man squad for the game as he only had 16 fit players at his disposal during the week.
Kenny Edwards was among five injury doubts included in the initial squad and was the only one to prove his fitness to take his place among the replacements.
The announcement that once-capped England international forward and former Queensland State of Origin representative Chris McQueen had joined the Giants on a short-term deal was the highlight of a punishing evening in Leeds for a weakened Huddersfield side.
The 33-year-old, who was released by Australian NRL side Wests Tigers just a day earlier, could do nothing to help his new club in their desperate situation as he watched from the stands after arriving in the UK just hours earlier.
St Helens themselves were a side dealing with exceptional absences of their own, with confirmation earlier in the day that one un-named player would miss out after testing positive for coronavirus, while two team-mates have been forced to self-isolate after coming into contact with him.
St Helens, however, were unperturbed by the news and were commanding from the outset.
Coote latched on to a deflected grubber kick from Smith to open the scoring inside five minutes, and the hooker went over himself 10 minutes later after Walmsley did well to spin through two attempted tackles to offload.
Grace then collected a loose ball inside his own half to race away for Saints' third try just before the half-hour mark, with Coote adding the extras for a third time before teeing up another two points with a penalty before the break.
Huddersfield, who had upstaged Saints with a narrow win earlier this season, had Trout to thank for their first points of the evening, with the 20-year-old stripping the ball from McCarthy-Scarsbrook before breaking away to score.
But it was only minutes before McCarthy-Scarsbrook himself strolled over at the other end to restore the 20-point advantage and Grace added to the lead with his second score.
Two tries in three minutes from Costello and Coote followed, with Peyroux and Walmsley scores seeing Saints bring up 50 points before Coote completed a fine 26-point haul with his ninth successful kick of the night.
St Helens coach Kristian Woolf:
"I'm really happy. We had a lot of distractions this week, as a lot of teams have, and we turned up quite late because of the traffic on the M62.
"I thought it was a strong, professional effort. They didn't let any of that distract them.
"I know a lot of blokes were disappointed with the way they dropped off last week and they were pretty determined not to let that happen again."
Huddersfield coach Simon Woolford:
"I did expect a little bit more. I thought we competed in the first half but our kicking game wasn't great and were bringing the ball back from our own line.
"It was hard work, they suffocated us, and the amount of energy we used took its toll in the second half. We had a lot of kids out there and they got tired.
"The scoreline is disappointing but it's been a tough couple of weeks. Our confidence has been knocked around and we need to look at the Leeds game to kick-start our season."
Huddersfield Giants: Senior; McGillvary, Cudjoe, Turner, Young; Russell, Holmes; Gavet, O'Brien, English, Hewitt, J Wardle, Wood.
Interchanges: Butterworth, Wilson, Trout, Edwards.
St Helens: Coote; Costello, Naiqama, Simm, Grace; Welsby, Lomax; Lees, Smith, Walmsley, Bentley, Knowles, Graham.
Interchanges: Peyroux, McCarthy-Scarsbrook, Amor, Ashworth.
Referee: Liam Moore (RFL)