Yates’ view: Is this the season’s turning point for Saints?

Saints winger Tommy Makinson
Saints winger Tommy Makinson

During Saints’ confidence-sapping four-match losing streak coach Keiron Cunningham never lost faith in the players under his command.

Positivity was always a key word in his post-match press conferences despite successive Super League defeats at the hands of Huddersfield Giants, Hull FC, Warrington Wolves and Catalans Dragons.

Some people questioned his unswerving belief that the club’s future was in good hands but his relatively young team went part way to answering any criticism by their 48-16 demolition of Hull KR at Langtree Park on Friday night.

OK, one swallow doesn’t make a summer but for the final 50 odd minutes of what many observers felt was a ‘must win’ fixture as far as the under pressure home side were concerned, they produced a near perfect performance.

It was in sharp contrast to their tentative opening 21 minutes when they trailed 12-0 and would have been even further adrift had substitute George Lawler not knocked on with the line at his mercy, bombing the chance of six more points.

Turning points in a season can often be traced back to one defining moment - and maybe Lawler’s schoolboy error represents the start of a much-needed change in Saints’ fortunes.

From that moment on they took the game by the scruff of the neck and gave it a real shaking.

Winger Adam Swift struck twice in the space seven post-interval minutes and then completed a personal four-try haul as the rampant hosts posted 40 second-half points.

It is difficult to put your finger on why a team, which had started so poorly and suffered more than one or two boos from discontented fans, suddenly looked like world beaters and began playing with the flair and passion of their predecessors

But they can’t get carried away by one result - however impressive - and Cunningham will no doubt remind his players that they still didn’t produce what he has been demanding and striving for all year - consistency for the full 80 minutes.

Saints are still far from the finished article and will need strengthening in one or two key areas, whether this season or in the future, but they are currently a work in progress and as I’ve said before the fans will need to show a little patience.

They certainly got behind the players once they got on a roll - and it was a point not lost on the head coach.

Cunningham said: “It has been a tough period but we have come through it with a little pride in front of our home fans ... and posted some points which can only help egos.

“The supporters have been great; we had a real good following last week at Catalans and I’m glad the team did a job in the second half for them tonight.”

He went on: “We started nervously which you could appreciate. We’ve played the top teams in the last three weeks and had a demanding month, but we’ve come out of it with a bit of pride.

“Tonight we didn’t start that great, but I thought for the final 50 minutes we looked like a side that could go on and do some special things.

“I’m really pleased for the players, they’ve been through the mill a little bit. There’s lots of positives, to regain momentum takes a lot when you’re in bit of free fall, but that’s what we did around the 30-minute mark.

“Swifty did a great job. I had a conversation with him during the week because he’s been in a sticky patch, a bit up and down. We talked through some stuff and he’s got his mojo back, I knew he was going to play well tonight.”

Swift was one try short of equalling Saints’ Super League record which is shared by Anthony Sullivan (1998) and Kevin Iro (2000).