JONNY LOMAX grabbed a hat-trick of tries as St Helens bounced back from their surprise defeat at Wakefield with a 66-4 trouncing of injury-hit Huddersfield Giants.
Inspired by classy full-back Ben Barba, Saints ran in 12 tries in all to register their biggest win over the Giants in the summer era and consolidate their place at the top of the Betfred Super League.
Huddersfield’s heaviest defeat of the season leaves them still looking for a first win under interim head coach Chris Thorman and in deep trouble near the foot of the table.
The Giants had nine regulars missing following the late withdrawal of Lee Gaskell and Seb Ikahihifo, who were both injured in training, and also without talismanic half-back Danny Brough through suspension, they were totally outclassed by their hosts.
Still without skipper James Roby, St Helens gave a debut to centre Matty Costello in the absence of suspended England international Mark Percival and he made his mark after 12 minutes, taking Morgan Knowles’ offload to race into space and get Lomax over for the opening try.
Five minutes later, evergreen forward Jon Wilkin released Barba deep inside his own half and the Australian breezed through the visitors’ defence to score his first try.
Thorman’s side never got near the Saints line in the first half and needed some stout defence, particularly from centre Aaron Murphy, to keep the rampant leaders in check.
However, the game went away from the Giants in the second quarter as Lomax went over for his second try and carved out a second for Barba, while substitute forward Louie McCarthy-Scarsbrook twice made mincemeat of the visitors’ defence to crash over from short range.
Danny Richardson converted five of the six tries to make it 34-0 at the break and it took Saints just six minutes of the second half to extend their lead.
A legitimate ball steal by Luke Douglas on Ukuma Ta’ai created a perfect attacking position and Barba made the most of it to work centre Ryan Morgan over for St Helens’ seventh try.
Huddersfield added to their own problems with a series of handling errors and one from teenager Innes Senior 20m out from his own line gifted St Helens the opportunity for Barba to get Morgan over for an identical score.
Former St Helens centre Jordan Turner ensured the Giants would not be nilled as he took Kruise Leeming’s pass to cross for a 64th-minute try, but Jordan Rankin could not add the goal and normal service was quickly resumed.
Richardson showed a nice turn of speed to break the Giants defensive line and neatly side-stepped his way past full-back Jared Simpson for a solo try, to which he added his sixth conversion.
And Saints piled on the agony for the Giants in the closing stages with McCarthy-Scarsbrook and Barba combining to get Lomax over for his third try, winger Regan Grace producing some dazzling footwork to register an opportunist touchdown and prop Kyle Amor bulldozing his way through a shattered defence to wrap up the scoring.
A sad story for the Giants.
Latest Super League results: Wigan 28 Castleford 12, Salford 38 Wakefield 4, St Helens 66 Giants 4.
Hull have signed former England international Joe Westerman for a second time following his release by Toronto.
The 28-year-old loose forward made 127 appearances for the Black and Whites from 2011-15 before moving to Warrington and rejoins them on a deal to the end of the season, with Hull having an option to extend it.
Hull coach Lee Radford is delighted, saying: “I’m over the moon to be able to bring in a player with Joe’s talent. This has to work for him.”