Yates’ verdict: No scapegoats here

Keiron Cunningham
Keiron Cunningham

Sometimes you have to accept that the Gods will conspire against you - and Saints must have experienced that feeling as they toppled to a 17-16 defeat against on-song Hull FC at Langtree Park on Friday night.

Both coaches, quite rightly, suggested that a share of the spoils would have been a fitting result to a Super League encounter which lived up to its pre-match billing and enthralled a five-figure crowd, but at key goal kicking moments Hull showed nerves of steel.

Ice-cool scrum-half Mark Sneyd’s unerringly accurate 40 metre late drop goal, which ensured the points headed to the other side of the Pennines, came shortly after St Helens’ man-of-the-match, stand-off Theo Fages, had fluffed a similar attempt in a bid to edge the hosts 17-16 in front.

Winger Jack Owens also missed a simple looking penalty on the stroke of half-time with Keiron Cunningham’s outfit clinging on to a 16-10 advantage but it would be foolish to make anyone a scapegoat for a third defeat in the last four outings.

Despite the setback, Cunningham remained upbeat when assessing his side’s contribution to an absorbing 80 minutes in which Saints bossed the first half and the Airlie Birds ruled the roost on the resumption.

He said: “I thought we probably deserved something out of the game and I was proud of the performance of all my players.

“So as disappointed as I am in the loss, it isn’t for myself but for the players. I genuinely believe they deserved better after what they put into the game.

“Hull’s try just before half-time, which helped cut their deficit to 16-10, hurt us - and there is no one to blame for Jack’s penalty miss.”

Vowing to keep on fighting, Cunningham said: “Once we get some players back from injury, we will have more striking power and those nearly opportunities tonight will then be taken.”

Hull’s victory wasn’t totally unexpected nd neither was Warrington’s 28-16 demolition of Wigan Warriors at the DW Stadium but what on earth is going on at Headingley?

Triple champions Leeds Rhinos seem to be lurching from crisis to crisis, suffering defeat number seven against Hull KR, and while most experts keep insisting they have too many quality players to remain in the Super League doldrums, once you get into a large hole it’s sometimes difficult to dig your way out.

Neither will their next three fixtures guarantee a win - Salford Red Devils (a), Hull FC (h) and St Helens (a).