Yates’ verdict: Big Alex Walmsley’s impact was vital

Louie McCarthy-Scarsbrook is stopped by three Huddersfield defenders
Louie McCarthy-Scarsbrook is stopped by three Huddersfield defenders
  • Luke Walsh’s speed of thought undone the Giants
  • Alex Walmsley’s power helped change the course of the game
  • Keiron Cunningham happy with his charges performance

The St Helens Reporter’s John Yates give his verdict on Saints’ season opening victory over Huddersfield Giants, praising the influence of Alex Walmsley and Luke Walsh.

A few eyebrows were raised when Saints' supremo Keiron Cunningham opted to name four forwards on the substitutes' bench ahead of Friday's First Utility Super League opener against Huddersfield Giants at a rain-swept Langtree Park.

Huddersfield Giants' Michael Lawrence (left) and Huddersfield Giants' Ryan Hinchcliffe halt St Helens' Mark Percival

Huddersfield Giants' Michael Lawrence (left) and Huddersfield Giants' Ryan Hinchcliffe halt St Helens' Mark Percival

But his game plan worked a treat in tough, testing and slippy conditions with a 30-16 scoreline emphasising the hosts superiority on the night.

Timely would be the best way to describe the introduction of Alex Walmsley, Greg Richards, Andre Savelio and Luke Thompson at differing stages - all four making a big impact when tossed into the fray and playing a major role in the destiny of the two points.

In total, they covered an outstanding 332 metres and Thompson crowned what Cunningham later described as a phenomenal display with one of Saints' five tries.

“I thought he changed the game, while. Big Al played well, too, and changed the flow of the match in his first stint,” said the head coach.

I thought he changed the game, while. Big Al played well, too, and changed the flow of the match in his first stint,” said the head coach

Saints head coach Keiron Cunningham

Neither did the starting set of forward take a backward step, fighting fire with fire against a Giants' pack renowned for its durability and won the battle hands down.

Kyle Amor (136 metres) and Atela Vea(108 metres) and Louie McCarthy-Scarsbrook (91 metres) were particularly impressive and it was great to see Vea get on the score sheet along with fellow forward Thompson.

The 28-year-old ex-London Broncos star was ravaged by injury last season, playing little more than a handful of games, and it would be great if he is able to show his full potential in 2016.

Saints' astute kicking game was another vital factor in the victory and no one stepped up to the plate better than Luke Wash.

Former Saints and Huddersfield Giants' head coach Paul Anderson

Former Saints and Huddersfield Giants' head coach Paul Anderson

The Aussie scrum half doesn't have the quickness of a gazelle but he undid Huddersfield with his speed of thought and pin-point accurate kicking and passing.

It was, in my opinion, one of his best games in a Saints' shirt since his debut at Warrington in February 2014 when he amassed 18 points from a try and seven goals in a stunning 38-8 victory.

But Cunningham is too wise to go overboard on the strength of one win against a disappointing Giants' outfit missing play maker Luke Robinson and one or two other regulars and losing the influential Danny Brough at

half-time with a dead leg.

Huddersfield Giants' Larne Patrick and St Helens' Adam Swift. Picture by John Rushworth

Huddersfield Giants' Larne Patrick and St Helens' Adam Swift. Picture by John Rushworth

But you can only play what’s put in front of you and next in the firing line are Salford Red Devils at the AJ Bell Stadium on Thursday night.

Saints will be hoping to dent the Mancunians fragile confidence further after their 42-20 hammering at Hull FC on Friday night and put themselves in the right frame of mind for the World Club Series clash against the Sydney Roosters on Friday, February 19.