Keiron Cunningham was proud of his side after they bounced back from their World Club Challenge drubbing to maintain their 100 per cent start to their Super League title defence.
Five days after their humiliating 39-0 mauling by South Sydney, Saints overcame a gallant Castleford to win 21-14 at Langtree Park and make it three wins out of three to top the table.
“I’m really proud of what we did today,” Cunningham said. “It’s been quite an emotional week.
“Our pride was hurt and it was a tough job to try and get them up on a short turn-around.
“We had 20 minutes of a training session yesterday to recover more than anything.
“It wasn’t the most entertaining game. We were dumb in certain areas and Cas came to play but we hung in and just did enough.”
Cunningham was delighted with the display of his outside backs, who scored all the tries through Tom Makinson, Adam Swift, Josh Jones and Mark Percival, and especially pleased with the way his side responded to going a man down midway through the second half.
Prop Kyle Amor was sent to the sin bin for a “crusher” tackle on St Helens full-back Jordan Tansey but 12-man Saints hit back to score the next try and clinch the win.
“Losing Kyle could have hurt us but we got a bit angry and a bit nasty,” Cunningham said. “We showed some grit and determination which is what I wanted to see.”
Two tries in four minutes from winger Justin Carney, making up for a blunder which gifted Saints one of their scores, briefly gave Castleford hope but they are still without a point and, although this was their heaviest defeat of the season, coach Daryl Powell admits he is a frustrated man.
“I thought we should have won,” said Powell, whose side lost by two points to Wakefield and by one to Catalans Dragons. “It’s a bit of a habit.
“It was a disappointing first half. We had lots of opportunities and didn’t take any.
“I still thought at 10-0 we had a great opportunity to win the game but to give six points away in manner we did rocks you back.
“We had a purple patch but we couldn’t sustain it. It’s frustrating. The boys are working exceptionally hard but the clarity of our game is not there. We have a bit of work to do to tidy it up.
“We’re not quite where we want to be. If we had been able to build pressure, would have won the game.”