Coote stars as St Helens reach SL decider

St Helens' Lachlan Coote scored the opening try in their Super League semi-final rout of Catalans.
St Helens' Lachlan Coote scored the opening try in their Super League semi-final rout of Catalans.

Fullback Lachlan Coote contributed 24 points as defending Super League champions St Helens brushed aside Catalans Dragons 48-2 to reach a record 12th grand final.

Former Penrith and North Queensland No.1 Coote crossed for two tries and landed eight goals in a sparkling individual performance while Fiji captain and former NRL outside back Kevin Naiqama scored a hat-trick of tries.

Catalans' lone points came from the boot of James Maloney, with the two-time NRL premiership winner giving the Dragons an early 2-0 lead before the Saints took total control at the Totally Wicked Stadium.

St Helens will face a derby clash with Wigan at Hull's KCOM Stadium next Friday in the decider.

Catalans went into the game without two of their key players, hooker Michael McIlorum and second-rower Joel Tomkins, because of suspension and their over-physical approach backfired spectacularly as they were twice reduced to 12 men.

Five-eighth Maloney and second-rower Benjamin Garcia were both shown yellow cards by referee Liam Moore for high tackles as the Dragons conceded eight tries.

The only disappointment for St Helens was the loss of veteran prop James Graham early in the game with a head injury, while fellow front rower Alex Walmsley failed to finish the contest after succumbing to a knee injury.

Graham, who will be hanging up his boots at the end of the season, caught a stray elbow from teammate Jack Welsby and must undergo a series of head tests to see if he will get the chance, just like Wigan veteran Sean O'Loughlin, to bring down the curtain on his career on the big stage.

Coote got St Helens' opening try on 13 minutes and made it a double in the 50th.

Naiqama crossed in the 30th, 41st and 69th while Jonny Lomax (55th) and James Bentley (64th) also scored tries.

St Helens led 14-2 at halftime and racked up five tries after the restart.

Australian Associated Press