Keiron Cunningham watched his side snatch another last-gasp victory and says he would have been happy with a draw.
Warrington half-back Gareth O’Brien had levelled the scores at 14-14 with a 74th-minute penalty but the reigning Super League champions struck the decisive blow just two minutes from the end when a break out of defence by Saints stand-off Travis Burns set up the position for centre Jordan Turner to go over for the try that clinched a 20-14 victory.
It was a familiar finish for Saints, who used to have a habit of snatching derby wins over the Wolves and scored a last-minute drop goal to beat Huddersfield 35-34 in their previous game.
“I’d have taken the draw,” Cunningham said. “The game probably didn’t deserve a loser. Both teams were great for periods of the game and defences were good.
“Warrington are so quick down the middle, they’ve got four dummy-half runners basically coming at you and you’ve just got to survive.
“Fortunately I saved a few subs up for the second half and they did a good job.
“I knew we would get a crack at something and I told my players they would always get an opportunity to win the game but we left it quite late again.
“I’m pleased with the two points but the performance was the biggest thing for me. We found a way to win the game despite being on the back foot for large portions of the game.
“All credit to Jordan Turner because that left side had taken some flak in recent weeks and I thought it was very poignant that he puts the ball down to win the game.”
St Helens’ third win of the season over Warrington takes them back to the top of the table, at least for 48 hours, but some of the gloss was taken from it after losing skipper Jon Wilkin with a thumb injury in the early stages.
“It’s potentially a break or dislocation but we’ve got to get it checked,” Cunningham said. “He’s been outstanding all season and I really feel for Jon.
“If anybody deserves to play in big games it’s Jon. He’s that important for the team.”
Warrington now look destined to finish outside the top four but coach Tony Smith was delighted with his team’s performance which he believes augurs well for the Super 8s.
“We’ve played better tonight than in many of the games we’ve won this year,” he said.
“I’m disappointed to lose but it was a super try to win it and a great game of rugby league. I don’t mind conceding those tries because they take some scoring.
“It was the soft tries by James Roby and Mose Masoe that hurt you. Other than those, our defence was really good and our physicality was great.
“We gave ourselves a real chance and, if we play with that sort of spirit in defence and with a few improvements to our attack, I think we’ll win a few more games this year.”