Long: We didn’t earn the right to play

Sean Long, Saints assistant coach, has been critical of his players performance against Warrington
Sean Long, Saints assistant coach, has been critical of his players performance against Warrington
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Sean Long - one of the finest ball-playing half backs of his own generation - must have been close to tearing out his hair in sheer frustration and disbelief as Saints crashed to a 40-18 defeat at Warrington on Friday.

Long watched on as the six-times Super League champions allowed an early 14-0 lead slip through their fingers in every sense of the word with what can only be described as a multitude of mistakes, leaving the joint interim coach far from happy.

He said: “We started with real intent and purpose and got some points on the board, but then we compounded that good start with errors, poor skill, discipline and ruck speed which absolutely killed us.

“We went away from our game plan, too, but it was poor execution ultimately that cost us. You have to keep hold of the ball if you want to win a footy game. They didn’t drop it in the second and third quarters but every time we got it we dropped it.

“We didn’t earn the right to put on plays. Perhaps after scoring the early try we thought it would be easy.

“At half time we spoke about completion and earning the right to put plays on, but we came out and dropped the ball three times in our first five sets.”

He did, however, have a word of praise for Morgan Knowles who was forced to step from the substitutes’ bench when skipper Jon Wilkin suffered a hamstring problem in the warm-up.

Long said: “Morgan was a shining light for us. He played well. It was a bit of upheaval as we had already lost two of our best players, Alex Walmsley and Mark Percival, to England and then had to take Wilko out. He is a good leader and we lacked a little bit of that tonight.

“That said, they had six genuine first teamers missing, too, but they wanted a positive result it more than us at times which is disappointing. I think we still had enough out there to win the game.

“We now have to dust ourselves down and get ready for the biggest game of the season against Cas in the cup. We all have to take ownership on this performance, the coaching staff and players, have a look at ourselves and try to come back and improve for Saturday.”