Saints coach Keiron Cunningham was beaming with pride after watching his side maintain their 100 per cent start to their Super League title defence with a 32-24 win over Warrington.
Leading 30-12 with 11 minutes to go, Saints were left sweating on the outcome after the Wolves scored two tries in quick succession but that failed to take the gloss off their sixth win from six matches, their first at home against Warrington for five years.
“There were large points of the game where we were in control but our game management just let us down a bit at the end,” Cunningham said.
“All credit to Warrington, who came to play. If you give them opportunities, they can take them.
“But I’m happy with the result and we’re still 100 per cent. We were absolutely brilliant until that period at the end.
“It just goes to show how resilient this team is. Sometimes they don’t deserve to stop tries they do stop but that’s what a great side is about.
“The boys are working really hard. I’ve got to be proud of them. It’s an absolute pleasure to work with them. They’re a great group of people who want to achieve things.
“I think it’s a bit of a momentous victory because Langtree Park has been a happy hunting ground for Warrington.”
Captain Jon Wilkin was Saints’ hero, revelling in his role of makeshift scrum-half by scoring one try and creating others for Joe Greenwood and Adam Swift to put his side 18-6 at the break.
“People keep telling me he can’t play seven,” Cunningham said. “He has done a lot of work in pre-season and now he actually looks like a seven.
“I thought he managed the side really well tonight, he was very good.”
St Helens wrapped up the win with second-half tries from Louie McCarthy-Scarsbrook and Tom Makinson, with Travis Burns kicking six goals from seven attempts.
Saints lost second rower Greenwood midway through the second half but Cunningham does not expect to lose him for next week’s trip to Hull KR.
“He got a bump on his elbow,” he said. “We’ll get him checked on Monday but the medical staff aren’t too concerned, which is pleasing.”
Warrington were not so lucky with prop forward Ben Evans, who is facing a lengthy spell on the sides with a ruptured hamstring.
“It’s a nasty injury,” Wolves coach Tony Smith said. “He’s going to a local hospital but he’ll probably be in London by the end of the night.
“It’s been brought to the attention of the league to have a look at these type of tackles. Leg lifting, particularly single leg-lifting, is an unnecessary style of tackling and for Ben it’s a pretty poor outcome.”
Warrington had ended Leeds’ 100 per cent record in their previous match but found the champions a different proposition, despite scoring tries through Daryl Clark, Mick Higham, Kevin Penny and Chris Hill.
“It ended up with an exciting finish,” Smith said. “At 30-12 down, we weren’t really excited about it but my boys never gave in.
“It would have been nice to snatch it but I thought Saints deserved the spoils.
I thought they controlled the speed of the game better than us and their goal-line defence was very good.
“We need to get a bit more potency in our attack.”