Cunningham: We started slow again

Saints head coach Keiron Cunningham
Saints head coach Keiron Cunningham

Saints coach Keiron Cunningham was left wondering what might have been after his side’s shock defeat to Wakefield.

The defeat means Saints have lost two of their opening three games and Cunningham admits his charges are missing the direction provided by injured half-back Matty Smith.

Cunningham was also left pondering a controversial decision to award Wakefield a penalty try.

He said: “I thought the ruling of a penalty try was that it has to be guaranteed that the player is going to score a try. That was my understanding. Can we guarantee he is going to score it?

“I’ve not spoken to the ref about it, but having said that we should have closed the game out when we were in front.”

Cunningham also warned his side he wanted them to start matches faster.

He added: “I’m disappointed with the start. We were shocking last week and we started slow again.

“We lacked a sense of intensity as we couldn’t build momentum and it’s something we have to address and we will have to do something.

“We get in front in the game and we should bring it home. We are missing Matty Smith and he’s sat in the stands as someone has broken his leg. A senior half-back would have brought it home. It exposed our lack of experience in the halves.”

But the one positive was new signing Zeb Taia.

“Zeb was great on his debut,” he said.

“He’s stepped up and had a real go. He is definitely going to be a big asset to us.”

In contrast, Wakefield boss Chris Chester left the Totally Wicked Stadium a “very happy man” after his side edged out St Helens in thrilling fashion.

Jacob Miller’s late penalty try, awarded by the video officials after his superb kick put him in position to score only for Saints full-back Tommy Makinson to prevent him doing so, earned Wakefield a 16-12 victory.

Chester said: “The official has said that he’s tackled Jakob without the ball, it’s a penalty try. I won’t argue with it.

“I thought we deserved it over the 80 minutes. It’s always special coming here and getting a win. It will give us some real confidence.

“We haven’t been far away these last weeks and we stuck it out over the 80 minutes. We faced some adversity during the week, we lost Anthony England in the warm-up and we had to reshuffle.

“They are always special wins when we come to Saints. We competed high and we were always going to back ourselves in the second half and we found a way to win.”

Chester was delighted to have ended the wait for a win this season.

He added: “I’m happy we have broken the duck and we have got two points on the ladder. That is the most important thing.

“The key areas we need to improve on is the right edge. We came up with a few poor reads.

“We were a bit guilty of going into our shell as well.

“We were a bit conservative the way we played in the second half, but we got the result and I am a very, very happy man.”