Cunningham’s warning to cup winners Hull FC

Saints coach Keiron Cunningham

Saints coach Keiron Cunningham

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Keiron Cunningham warned newly-crowned Challenge Cup winners and Super League front-runners Hull FC: “We’ll be a different animal than the one you faced earlier in the season when we meet at Langtree Park on Friday night.”

Saints have already lost three times in 2016 to the revitalised Humbersiders - twice in the league and once in the cup - but at the time weren’t firing on all cylinders.

Now, on the back of seven wins in their last eight fixtures, they are brimming with self-belief and only a disastrous late slump in-form can deny them a top four spot at the end of the Super 8s.

But the Saints’ boss is fully aware of the imminent threat his side faces despite Hull’s energy-sapping Wembley victory over Warrington Wolves on Saturday and any after effects of post-match celebrations, which included an open-top bus ride through the city on August Bank Holiday Monday

A realistic Cunningham said: “We will be playing against currently the best team in the competition and that’s why they sit on the top of the table and have just won the Challenge Cup.

“They will be hungry for more success and will now have the League Leaders’ Shield and the title firmly in their sights.”

And no one was more pleased at seeing coach Lee Radford steering the Airlie Birds to their first Wembley triumph than his opposite number.

Cunningham said: “I’m chuffed to bits for Radders. He has been through the mill during the past year or so but stuck to his guns, coming out the other side in triumph.

“He is a champion guy and when we were struggling he was the first on the telephone to me offering any help if needed.

“I wish him well - but not on Friday!”

Saints will go into the Battle of the Roses without the suspended Luke Walsh and Luke Thompson and the injured Mark Percival, as well as long-term absentee Tommy Makinson, but the rest of the squad is fit and raring to go and will be hoping to maintain current impetus.

Cunningham said: “Momentum is massive at this part of the season and is the biggest thing everyone is striving for. You can see how easy it is to gain and how easy it is to be lost. Two or three poor games can have you falling off the face of the earth.

“These are important fixtures for us as we build into something.”