On paper there was only one winner as St Helens welcomed Wakefield Trinity to the Totally Wicked Stadium for the third Coral Challenge Cup quarter final. A semi-final draw containing Hull FC, Warrington Wolves, and one as yet undecided Championship side awaited for the victors, but no-one could see past that being the Red Vee.
St Helens are runaway leaders of Super League, and are already clear favourites to lift the Challenge Cup, but on their day Trinity have put in some tremendous performances and are deserving of their league position just outside the play-offs in sixth.
Danny Brough and Jacob Millar were back for Trinity but they had a mountain to climb against the side who had only previously lost one game all season, and who had Mark Percival, Luke Thompson and Louis McCarthy-Scarsbrook returning to action.
It took just two minutes for the favourites to open their account thanks to Lachlan Coote after he took a Jonny Lomax pass to walk in, unopposed. Coote added the extras for an early lead.
Wakefield struck straight back after a passing move ended in the hands of debutant Jack Croft to stretch for the line and ground. Danny Brough added the conversion from wide to level the scores.
Two quick penalties conceeded by Trinity gifted Coote an easy penalty from ten metres to regain the lead for Saints.
It took a spectacular Tommy Makinson try in the twentieth minute to extend the Saints lead as the winger took the ball ten metres out, went past Ben Jones-Bishop and leapt in the air to score one handed as he hit the corner flag. Coote converted from the touchline for 14-6.
A breakaway try, finished in broken play by Morgan Knowles after a Naiqama break downfield was a double whammy against Trinity. Coote pushed his conversion across the front of the posts, a slender lifeline for Wakefield.
After a superb Walmsley break, Ryan Hampshire held down too long to buy time for his defenders to get back and he was shown the yellow card for a professional foul. Coote elected to kick the goal.
Regan Grace benefitted against the twelve men when Roby went down the blind side and after two fast passes Grace found space to go over in the corner on thirty-two. Coote was again off target with his conversion, Trinity now 24-6 behind and heading out of the cup.
Another Coote goal on thirty-eight, after a ball steal, extended the Saints lead to twenty points as Hampshire made his way back onto the pitch after his ten minute rest. Saints headed for the sheds with a twenty point lead. It was looking unlikely that Wakefield would find any way back.
Saints made a couple of errors early in the second half and on forty-nine Tyler Randell grounded a delightful Brough grubber kick as it crossed the Saints line. Hampshire was unable to add the extras from wide, Trinity still sixteen points behind.
On sixty-one a short pass from Joseph Paulo found Zeb Taia to go through a gap for a walk in try. As Coote added the extras it was now simply a matter of how many Saints would win by.
Four minutes later Coote went close but as he was tackles he passed to Mark Percival to get over the line to score under the sticks, Coote added an easy conversion for 38-10, Wakefield had no response.
With ten minutes remaining Trinity put the ball to ground and Saints broke downfield with Lomax being on hand to walk in the seventh Saints try of the afternoon. Coote was again accurate with the boot.
The final score of the game came with five minutes remaining when Kevin Naiqama became the eighth Saints name of the scoresheet after a passing move ripped the visitors apart. Coote was unable to bring up the fifty with the conversion but Saints had a dominant 48-10 win against a Trinity side who can’t be criticised for effort but who were totally outplayed by their hosts.
Saints cruised into the semi-finals of the cup, and on todays showing, who’d bet against them collecting all of the silverware in 2019?
Saints: Coote (T, 8G), Grace (T), Percival (T), Naiqama (T), Makinson (T), Lomax (T), Richardson, Walmsley, Roby, Thompson, Taia (T), Peyroux, Knowles (T). Subs: Paulo, McCarthy-Scarsbrook, Lees, Ashworth.
Trinity: Hampshire (SB on 27), Kershaw, Lyne, Croft (T), Jones-Bishop, Miller, Brough (G), England, Randell (T), Kopczak, Kirmond, Ashurst, Tanginoa. Subs: Crowther, Hirst, King, Wood.
Referee: Chris Kendall.