Cunningham hails makeshift half-back pairing

Saints head coach Keiron Cunningham

Saints head coach Keiron Cunningham

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Keiron Cunningham saluted half-backs Luke Walsh and Jordan Turner after his side’s convincing 30-16 victory over Huddersfield.

Australian Walsh booted five goals and his kicks also set up tries for Atelea Vea and Luke Thompson.

Turner, replacing Travis Burns at stand-off, scored the 100th try of his career with Mark Percival bagging a brace.

Saints head coach Cunningham, whose side led 16-4 at half-time, said: “I have never seen anyone as focused in pre-season as Luke Walsh and he took the bull by the horns.

“The halves were brilliant and Luke Thompson changed the game when he came on. He was phenomenal.

“Atelea Vea also played the full 80 minutes straight and I’m pleased all over.

“Defensively we were very good and we played the conditions really well.

“We looked comfortable for a large part of the game.”

St Helens lost James Roby with a shoulder injury and Cunningham said: “It was a stinger but we have the luxury of cover in the squad.”

Huddersfield were already without Luke Robinson, Craig Huby, Kyle Wood and Joe Wardle and lost skipper Danny Brough at half-time with a dead leg and then Scott Grix with a dislocated shoulder.

They managed tries through Aaron Murphy, Ukuma Ta’ai and Jake Connor, with coach Paul Anderson refusing to be downbeat.

Anderson said: “The effort and endeavour was very good considering the youth out there.

“We were masters of our own downfall with penalties and errors but Sam Rapira was outstanding and caused a lot of problems.

“The difference was Luke Walsh’s kicking game and he played as though he was in a dinner jacket.

“The first half was very even although the scoreline may show otherwise.

“Losing Danny at half-time did not help and he struggled for the last 10 minutes of the first half.

“We are doing it tough but have to stay calm and composed.”