Yates’ verdict: A season with plenty of ups and downs

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Saints’ fans may be down in the dumps following the club’s failure to reach their 11th Old Trafford Grand Final since the inception of the competition in 1998.

But this is not a time to dwell on the 20-12 semi-final defeat against Warrington Wolves at the Halliwell-Jones Stadium on Thursday night in somewhat controversial circumstance.

All that matters now is learning lessons from the past nine months and building on the positive aspects of a season which, admittedly, had more than its fair share of ups and down.

What shouldn’t be overlooked, however, is the manner in which Saints finished the 2016 campaign with just two defeats in the final 13 matches.

It’s a record of which they can be justly proud and I firmly believe it is a stepping stone to even greater things in the near future.

Head coach Keiron Cunningham has never been afraid to give youth a chance and players like Morgan Knowles, Theo Fages, Greg Richards, Matty Fleming and Jack Owens can only benefit from their experiences gained at first team level in Super League XXI.

Neither is the club allowing the grass to grow under its feet, reflected by the decision to snap up 30-year-old prop Luke Douglas from NRL’s Gold Coast Titans on a three-year deal and Melbourne Storm centre Ryan Morgan on a similar contract.

Both comes with glowing reputations and in 26-year-old Morgan’s case his pace will give added speed to a back division which will include Jonny Lomax, a fit-again Tommy Makinson, Morgan, Mark Percival and Adam Swift and likely to put the fear of God into any opponents.

If, as expected, Aussie scrum-half Luke Walsh decides to return home then another ball-player with experience will be needed to guide the players around the park - and don’t be surprised if one arrives at Langtree Park shortly.

It’s probably the final piece in a jigsaw aimed at helping Saints to emulate past glories.