Talking sport with John Yates

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Spare a thought for the devoted Saints fans who spent hard-earned money to travel to the south of France, only to be short-changed in every sense of the word by their favourites.

Some were heading for the exits before the end of Saturday night’s stunning 42-0 thrashing against the Catalan Dragons at the Stade Gilbert Brutus - about to drown their sorrows on the local wines and conducting a post-match inquest into what can only be described as an embarrassing setback.

And top of a list of questions on their lips was: How can a team who went into the clash top of the competition (and still there despite a crushing defeat) surrender so feebly and abjectly?

It is no good pointing to the Mediterranean sunshine as a ready-made excuse - even though the temperature exceeded 20 degrees - or blaming the loss on the departure of skipper Paul Wellens and Jonny Lomax through injury during the 80-minute horror show.

The simple truth is Saints didn’t turn up and will have to find the answer to deep and searching questions before taking on Castleford Tigers at Langtree Park on Sunday afternoon, otherwise they could be staring another defeat in the face.

They hardly created a clear cut chance on the night, failing to score against the Dragons in France for the first time since the 2007 campaign when they lost 21-0 in August and also suffering their heaviest-ever defeat against their cross-Channel rivals.

Worse still, they capitulated without producing a genuine second-half fight, leaking a fistful of tries in a 20-minute spell.

Their embarrassment could have been greater had the normally assured goalkicker Thomas Bosc not missed three of his goal attempts.

At the same time it will be a testing week for Nathan Brown who must sometimes feel he is coaching a team of enigmas, able to reach dizzy heights one match and plummeting to the depths of despair the next.

Good luck Nathan!

n I make no apology for saying it, but the award of a British Empire Medal to Saints legend Kel Coslett couldn’t have been bestowed on a nicer, more affable man.

Despite his major contribution to the sport, which includes holding the club record for the most goals in a 15-year playing career at Knowsley Road - a staggering 1,639 - the 72-year-old Welsh wizard is probably the most down-to-earth and unassuming person you are ever likely to meet.

Never one to blow his own trumpet, he deflected credit on his achievements in rugby league, which included leading Saints to Wembley triumphs in 1972 and 1974 against Leeds and Widnes respectively, to the encouragement of the people of St Helens who took him to their heart from the day he arrived in a town where he had to consult a map to pinpoint its exact location!

Now he regards himself as an adopted son of St Helens, putting down his roots in the town as a player and raising a family - never really having a great desire to return to his native south Wales.

Well done, Kel, no one deserves the honour more and it will be a proud moment when you visit Buckingham Palace to receive the award in recognition of your services to rugby league over six decades.