When Leeds Rhinos became only the third side to win the domestic treble in 2015, St Helens ended the campaign in fourth - a position which seemed a far cry away from their Grand Final winning exploits the year before. Saints once more fell short of their fans' expectations with another fourth-placed finish in 2016 and began 2017 in terrible form. The sacking of Keiron Cunningham in April 2017 was unsurprising after Saints had just three wins from their opening eight matches.

It was perhaps even more surprising that the man chosen to replace St Helens legend Cunningham was a relatively unknown Aussie - Justin Holbrook. As Sydney Roosters assistant, Holbrook had learned from one of the top coaches in the game - Trent Robinson - and his influence was felt almost immediately.

Holbrook steered Saints to another top-four finish and was within a whisker of making the Grand Final after losing to Castleford in heartbreaking fashion in the semi-final play-offs.

Ben Barba - captured by Saints in May 2017, though he was unable to play until August thanks to a 12-week drugs ban - with a full pre-season behind him and with Holbrook clearly stamping his authority on the side, Saints were in a fantastic position going into the new 2018 season. And, boy have they shown their quality so far.


Five games into the season, and Saints have won all five. But, it's not just the fact that the Lancashire club are unbeaten, it's the manner in which they've cast aside all competitors so far. Last season's league leaders and pacemakers, Castleford Tigers, were dispatched in emphatic fashion in round one, 46-6.

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Saints were slick, fast and ruthless in round one, but showed a completely different character against Catalans Dragons in round two as they held on for a 12-21 victory. Round three came and Saints were away again, this time at Huddersfield at the John Smiths Stadium - a ground at which they lost in 2017.

There were no problems this time around though as Saints looked fluid in attack and keen and spirited in defence. If the Red Vee hadn't already underlined their title credentials by now, a 34-2 demolishing of Salford in round four certainly did so, as Saints looked irresistible in attack despite a heavy pitch as a result of the preceding week's snow. Round five presented St Helens with a tricky fixture away at Warrington, though someone should have told the Saints team that; withstanding the Wolves' early onslaught and awful conditions, Saints eventually brushed aside Warrington 12-30.

With a 100% record so far, St Helens have scored 157 points and let in just 44. A plus 113 points difference is by far the most impressive in Super League.

No wonder then, that England international centre Mark Percival is top of the try-scoring list with seven in five games after a hat-trick against Warrington. If Saints carry on this red-hot form, they will be very difficult to stop in any competition.

Impressive performers

Everyone is raving about the performances of Ben Barba at full-back - and rightly so - but there is more to this Saints team than just one man at the back. Centre Percival is in the form of his life and has been one of the most impressive three-quarters in the league so far this year, whilst half-back Danny Richardson showed just why he is thought of so highly at the Lancashire club in Saints' victory over Warrington on Friday night.

His first assist for Percival's first try was an example of great half-back play, whilst his second - breaking down the field on the last tackle and kicking ahead for Percival's second of the night - was utterly sublime. The icing on his cake and the final nail in the Wolves' coffin was Richardson's own effort on 78 minutes, backing up a Percival break and kick. Aged just 21, Richardson is keeping veteran half Matty Smith out of the side and rightly so; with every game, the youngster is improving. It might be early days, but there is a bit of Sean Long about him: he is confident, skilful and creative and looks every bit a star in the making.

The evergreen James Roby looks as dynamic as ever - his burrowing try against Warrington proved he has still got it. Forwards Luke Thompson, Kyle Amor and Alex Walmsley have been superb in getting Saints good go-forward whilst winger Tommy Makinson has so far justified his inclusion in Wayne Bennett's 21-man Elite Performance Squad.

Saints are a scary team at the minute; every single player is playing a key role and playing it extremely well. And, just like Castleford in 2017, St Helens could take the league by storm. But, the difference between St Helens and Castleford is that the Saints are used to finals. Though nothing is won in March, on their form, it is already obvious that St Helens will be incredibly difficult to stop come the end of the season. #RugbyLeague #RL #SuperLeague