Yates’ verdict: More frustration for Saints

Saints coach Keiron Cunningham
Saints coach Keiron Cunningham

Some results are written in the stars and it could be argued Saints’ 24-16 defeat at Leigh on Friday night fell into this category.

An early touch down from Atela Vea, who St Helens unloaded at the end of last season, set the tone and then Knowsley Road old boy Micky Higham struck 13 minutes from time to claim a fourth try as the Centurions chalked up a first win over their near neighbours since January 23, 1994.

A script writer couldn’t have penned a more fitting story line and one the jubilant hosts celebrated as if they had just won the Challenge Cup or the Grand Final crown.

No one could begrudge them their moment of glory - even though it was only worth a regulation two points on the league ladder - but from Saints’ point of view it was a frustrating night all round and gives head coach Keiron Cunningham much to ponder ahead of Friday’s home game against Wakefield Trinity Wildcats.

He could only watch on in the first half as his defensive unit was dismantled by an enthusiastic and totally committed Leigh side who smelled blood from the moment Vea crossed the whitewash for a confidence-building early try.

It was, in all honesty, preventable - and the same could be said for the Centurions other two first-half strikes which established a commanding 18-4 interval.

And even in the final 40 minutes when Saints monopolised proceedings and in Cunningham’s words had enough chances to win three games, worryingly their defence was still breached on a further two occasions - even though one of the tries was subsequently ruled out.

It’s a case of going back to the drawing board in a bid to solve one issues, including whether to start with influential hooker James Roby or introduce him from the bench which has been the ploy in the opening two rounds of the competition.

Cunningham opted to start the Leeds match with Tommy Lee and then introduced Roby. It worked a treat against the Rhinos but didn’t produced the same results at LSV despite the fact,it could be argued Robes was Saints’ stand-out player when he emerged from the bench.