Keiron: We’ve got to keep the faith

Saints head coach Keiron Cunningham
Saints head coach Keiron Cunningham
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  • Cunningham urges fans to ‘keep the faith’
  • Head coach believes Saints are not far off being back to their best
  • Luke Walsh’s return transformed game in the second half

Keiron Cunningham has urged Saints fans to keep the faith following the 41-16 home defeat against Leeds - their fourth reverse in five games.

The Langtree Park boss insisted there were plenty of positives to take from the game after the ugly scoreline led to online criticism from a minority of fans.

It’s important for us to get back to winning ways against Widnes this week. Every point counts

Saints head coach Keiron Cunningham

He said: “I care about this club as much as every Saints fan. As an ex-player I’m used to everyone adoring you if you play well and then criticising you if you have a bit of a slump in form.

“We weren’t far short against Leeds so I’m not going to suffer any sleepless nights about it. If I think my players deserve to be criticised then I’ll criticise them – but I honestly don’t.

“I just thought we were unfortunate. Leeds had their fair share of luck. Even at half-time I thought we had a chance because we knew there were plenty of points in the game.

“All the big games are always on a knife-edge. I’ve never felt so comfortable during a game and ended up with a loss. If you hide the scoreline and just watch the game I think we had our fair share of dominance.”

Cunningham admitted that Saints’ ruck defence was not good enough on the day but claimed the two intercept tries were the real killer.

“If we had played a little bit smarter we’d have been the ones scoring the tries,” he said.

“If you eliminate the two intercept tries and give us one of them then it’s a different game altogether.

“We just made errors at the wrong times and dropped balls when we were going forward.

“The attention to detail in small areas of our defence let us down too.

“It was really uncharacteristic.”

On the plus side, Cunningham pointed to the impact of fit-again Luke Walsh in the second half and reserved special praise for young winger Matty Fleming.

He said: “When Walshy came on it opened up a lot of avenues for us in attack. Jon Wilkin and Travis Burns have been doing a great job for us but to be able to bring in a genuine seven will enable Wilko to give us something different in the back row. You always want your best players on the field.

“I thought young Matty was superb too. We’re a bit light in outside backs so it puts a smile on my face to know that I’ve got another one I can call upon.”

Cunningham added: “It’s important for us to get back to winning ways against Widnes this week. Every point counts.

“Widnes are a good team and are coming off a great win against Cas but if we do the right things we should be a tough side to beat.”