PERFECTIONIST Royce Simmons praised his players – but still managed to find some minus points from an otherwise dominant St Helens’ display in Sunday’s 26-18 win over Wigan.
The Saints coach said: “I told the players at half-time, when we led 14-6, to continue playing the same way, and not just attempt to survive, which we did initially.
“But in the final 15 minutes, we went away from our game plan, and began to run a bit one out, and weren’t making good ground as a result.
“We were thinking about drifting and covering up, rather than remaining positive, and cannot afford to keep doing that because quality sides will come and get you.”
Amid the euphoria of a richly deserved win against the defending champions and Challenge Cup winners, Simmons added: “The result only means we have reached the next round of the competition – not the Grand Final itself – so it’s nothing to get over-excited about.
“But it is better than losing, and will give us a extra week’s break from competitive action ahead of the semi-finals.
“I always thought we had a performance like that in our locker.
“I was confident we could do a job, and we did.”
He was particularly delighted by the contribution from half-backs Jonny Lomax, 21, and Lee Gaskell, 20, who bossed the exchanges in the middle of the park against the far more experienced combination of Paul Deacon and Brett Finch.
Gaskell’s astute and intelligent kicking game was a key feature.
“I thought both were terrific,” added Simmons.
“They played square and also took the line on.
“It is difficult to play against a team which does that.”