Saints 22 Huddersfield 28

Keiron Cunningham
Keiron Cunningham

SAINTS coach Keiron Cunningham urged the critics not to write off the reigning Super League champions after a third successive defeat saw them slip to fourth place in the table.

They were overtaken by Huddersfield following the Giants’ 28-22 victory at Langtree Park, and with fixtures coming up against Wigan, Leeds and Warrington, Saints urgently need an upturn in fortunes if they are to retain their crown.

However, Cunningham had called for a response from his players following their surprise home defeat by Hull and he believes he got it.

“It’s a result-based industry and we need to pick some points up but I thought the response was pretty good,” he said.

“If anything, the effort across the board was too good because they tried to force things instead of being patient and trying to build pressure.

“Huddersfield are a good side and it was a typical Saints-Huddersfield game which went down to the wire. They took their chances better than we did.

“It was a hell of a lot better than the Hull game. There were some really good efforts out there. We played a little bit anxious because we’ve lost a few games at an important time but I’m happy with the response.

“The season is a long way from being over. We’ve got to make the top four and we’ll have a crack at it.”

Saints twice held the lead, taking advantage of the sin-binning of Huddersfield substitute Michael Lawrence during a run of seven consecutive penalties late in the first half, but they lacked a killer punch.

The Giants suffered two close-fought defeats by Saints in the regular season and assistant coach Kieran Purtill believes their win at Langtree Park could prove to be a turning point in their season.

“I thought it was a fantastic game,” he said. “Both teams had chances to put the game to bed.

“We showed some real good composure after going down to 12 men.

“We got back in the arm wrestle and I think our hard work over the last few weeks has paid off.

“We’ve come to St Helens and beaten a team that’s above us in the league.

“We’ve competed against some of the big boys this year and probably not come away with the right result. Today we competed and came away with a result.

“We’ve kind of gone under the radar a little bit but we’re up into third spot and that’s given ourselves a real good chance of finishing there.”