Yates' verdict: Tough opener was just what the doctor ordered for Saints
Saints were given a run for their money by underdogs Salford Red Devils in the opening fixture of the new Betfred Super League season at Headingley on Friday - and no one will be more delighted than head coach Kristian Woolf..
Better overcoming what was a stern examination - at least for the first hour - than a cake-walk many fans had predicted and a warning, if needed, to avoid any kind of complacency in the weeks ahead.
The final 29-6 scoreline may have slightly flattered the defending champions but at the end of a tough and uncompromising encounter their superior skills shone through like a beacon and will have put the players in the right frame of mind to tackle Hull KR at the Totally Wicked Stadium on Thursday night, kick-off 8.15 pm.
Busy bee Jonny Lomax earned the man of the match accolade for his probing and inventiveness throughout the 80 minutes but it must have been a close call between the half back and his skipper James Roby.
Hooker Robes has played more than 460 games for his hometown club since his debut in 2004 - the majority of which I've had the pleasure of watching - and to be perfectly honest I've yet to see him produce a below-par performance.
He's like a spring chicken whenever he steps on to the park - not a 35-year-old reaching the twilight of his trophy-ladened career. and leads his team-mates around the pitch in the same manner as world famous St Helens-born impresario Sir Thomas Beecham displayed when conducting the London Philharmonic Orchestra!.
The three new overseas signings, Joel Thompson, Sione Mata'utia, and Agnatius Paasi,all settled in nicely but the latter was reminded how tough Super League can be when he copped a head knock from Salford's Pauli Pauli and took no further part in the game.
Finally, a well-earned pat on the back to Sky for the way they promoted the start of the 2021 Rugby League season - and let's hope the sport now gets a response through the turnstiles - and via the media - it deserves.
It's far from an easy job persuading sports fans - particular if they live south of the Watford Gap - about the merits of Rugby League but I sense a change of attitude is on the horizon.
I just hope Sky continue to promote the sport as vigorously but there are many other media outlets that can be tapped into to enhance the image of Rugby League which leads me to ask the question:Has anyone at RLHQ ever sought a meeting with the editors of our national newspapers - some of which give scant publicity to the 13-a-side code? If not, why not?