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Page last updated at 21:54 GMT, Friday, 18 February 2011

Salford City Reds 22-56 St Helens

Salford (6) 22
Tries: Patten, Gibson, Ratchford, Broughton Goals: Holdsworth 3
St Helens (38) 56
Tries: Flannery, Eastmond 2, Roby, Meli, Lomax, Gardner, Gaskell, Clough, Shenton Goals: Foster 8

Kyle Eastmond
Kyle Eastmond has been the subject of interest from both Bath and Sale

St Helens crushed Salford at The Willows with a stunning 10-try victory over their north west neighbours.

Saints were without both joint-captains Paul Wellens and James Graham.

But rugby union target Kyle Eastmond led the way with two tries for sizzling Saints as they atoned for defeats in their last two trips to The Willows.

Angry Reds fans called for the sacking of coach Shaun McRae after his struggling side made it 98 points shipped in this term's first two games.

It was a second successive shambolic performance from a new-look Salford side who began the campaign with high hopes after a close-season spending spree.

But, following on from last Sunday lunchtime's unpalatable 42-12 defeat by Crusaders in Cardiff, they already look set for a battle to avoid the wooden spoon.

Star of the show was Eastmond, who grabbed two of Saints' seven first-half tries and was denied a hat-trick after the break when Salford defender Stefan Ratchford got back to intercept a pass from Jonny Lomax.

Eastmond, rumoured to be on his way to rugby union, was back to his sparkling best after a quiet game against Wigan and he was not on his own as Saints, led by the outstanding James Roby, bossed the show from the kick-off.

We'd certainly like to keep Kyle Eastmond here and we're doing everything we can

St Helens coach Royce Simmons

Stand-off Lee Gaskell caught the eye on his second full appearance in Super League and England centre Michael Shenton scored his first try for the club.

Salford had won this fixture in the two previous seasons but any prospect of a hat-trick disappeared inside the first nine minutes when Saints scored two tries, identical efforts from grubber kicks on the last tackle.

Second-rower Chris Flannery struck the first blow, collecting stand-off Gaskell's perfectly-judged kick before Jon Wilkin repeated the trick to set up Eastmond.

Salford pulled a try back after 13 minutes when full-back Luke Patten, who was to end the night with a badly-broken nose, took skipper Daniel Holdsworth's pass to go through a hole in the Saints defence.

But it was only a temporary relief for the home side, Roby forcing his way over from close range before centre Francis Meli proved unstoppable running onto Gaskell's pass.

There were a lot of things said tonight that have given me something to think about. I've just got to go away and have a think about that and maybe make some decisions in a couple of days' time

Salford coach Shaun McRae

As Salford crumbled, an outrageous flicked pass from Tony Puletua set up a second try for Eastmond, who then provided the final pass for full-back Lomax to touch down before winger Ade Gardner went over unmarked for Saints' seventh first-half try.

The Reds rallied briefly after the break when Lomax came up with a rare Saints error in the swirling wind, winger Ashley Gibson scoring his side's second try.

But Gaskell profited from Patten's fumble at the re-start to score his second try for the club and substitute Paul Clough crashed over for a ninth try, Jamie Foster bringing up the half-century with the seventh of his eight conversions.

Shenton then got in on the act after a successful kick-and-chase. But Salford at least had the final say when Ratchford and winger Jodie Broughton added late tries, Holdsworth improving both to end the night with three conversions out of four.

Salford coach Shaun McRae:
"I copped it from the crowd and it's fair enough, I accept that.

"One of the hardest things in coaching is that you have got to please a lot of people and I haven't pleased too many people in those two performances.

"I am the one at the head of the table and I've got to accept the critics. The crowd are entitled to be frustrated and upset.

"There were a lot of things said tonight that have given me something to think about. I've just got to go away and have a think about that and maybe make some decisions in a couple of days' time.

"If you're asking about resignation that wasn't quite in my mind. There's got to be a lot of fight in this organisation and I'd like to lead that fight.

"There's a personal pride attached to what we do. This is a down time at the moment and we've got to try to come out of it altogether.

"St Helens were very, very good tonight, as good as we were poor."

St Helens coach Royce Simmons:
"I was particularly happy with the 20 minutes before half-time when we started to play some of the football I wanted us to play.

"I was a little disappointed with us letting in 22 points.

"We set ourselves a few targets at the start of the year and we conceded a few too many points.

"We'd certainly like to keep Kyle Eastmond here and we're doing everything we can."

Salford: Patten; Broughton, Henry, Nero, Gibson; Ratchford, Holdsworth; Cashmere, Smith, Parker, Adamson, Sidlow, Wild.
Replacements: Paleaaesina, Neal, Spencer, Jewitt.

St Helens: Lomax; Gardner, Shenton, Meli, Foster; Gaskell, Eastmond; McCarthy-Scarsbrook, Roby, Puletua, Flannery, Soliola, Wilkin.
Replacements: Moore, Clough, Magennis, Makinson.

Referee: Robert Hicks (Oldham).

Attendance: 5,929.

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see also
Crusaders 42-12 Salford
13 Feb 11 |  My Club
St Helens 16-16 Wigan
12 Feb 11 |  My Club
Rugby League on the BBC
15 Oct 10 |  Rugby League
Rugby League commentaries
03 Apr 10 |  Rugby League

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