Cunningham praises NRL-bound Jordan Turner

Saints head coach Keiron Cunningham
Saints head coach Keiron Cunningham
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Saints coach Keiron Cunningham says Jordan Turner is living up to his promise to bow out on a high after his match-winning performance against Warrington.

The former Salford and Hull outside back has enjoyed a new lease of life since announcing a two-year deal to play in the NRL with Canberra Raiders from next season and scored the all-important try that earned his side a gripping 20-18 derby win that keeps them well-placed for the semi-finals.

“I think Jordan is playing some of the best rugby I’ve ever seen him play,” Cunningham said. “He’s been outstanding.

“When he told me a few weeks ago that he was going to the NRL, he shook my hand, looked me in the eye and promised he would give me 100 per cent to the end. This showed he’s a man of his word.”

St Helens, who had won on their six previous visits to the Halliwell Jones Stadium, took the lead midway through the first half when Turner got forward Louie McCarthy-Scarsbrook over for the game’s opening try and full-back Jonny Lomax finished off a superb long-range move to double their score before half-time.

The Wolves kept in touch thanks to tries from Daryl Clark, Jack Hughes and Ryan Atkins and thought they had snatched it when Rhys Evans went over at the corner two minutes from the end only to have the try disallowed by video referee Joe Cobb after slow-motion replays indicated a foot in touch.

That meant a second successive narrow victory for Cunningham’s men at the Wolves’ home this season.

“How many Warrington games have been sat biting our nails at the end?” asked Cunningham. “I do think we were deserved winners.

“It was a really brave performance. In big games you’ve just got to find a way to win and defensively I thought we were immense.

“We started the game with zero ball and were camped on our own line and that was a common theme throughout the game.

“Sometimes you’ve got to win ugly games because they really count at the end.

“I’m proud of the players, who are in a really good place. They’ve got trust and belief in each other.”

Warrington missed the chance to go top of the table, just five days after their Challenge Cup semi-final win over Wakefield, but coach Tony Smith had no complaint about the result.

“I don’t want to use the short turn-around as an excuse,” he said. “We were off it.

“The sharpness wasn’t there. My boys tried right to the end but, if we were going to pull it out, it was going to be through individual brilliance.

“Some of the passing was off and there were signs of being a bit sloppy both in defence and attack.

“I thought St Helens were very good at getting numbers in the tackles and controlling the speed of the ruck and their kicking game better than ours. They deserved their win.”

Smith said he had no knowledge of an allegation of gouging made against Warrington forward Hughes, who played down the incident afterwards by saying he had shaken hands with the Saints player involved, McCarthy-Scarsbrook.