Yates’ verdict: Back to the drawing board for Cunningham

Saints coach Keiron Cunningham
Saints coach Keiron Cunningham
Share this article

The look of sheer disbelief etched on the faces of stunned Saints’ players told its own poignant story.

Heads bowed, they left the Totally Wicked arena still trying to come to term with having surrendered a 14-0 interval lead against a struggling Huddersfield side who had lost five of their previous eight fixtures and shipped 236 points - the worst defensive record in the competition.

A draw may have earned St Helens a point but it could have been far worse had

stand-off Danny Brough - one of the deadliest kickers in the competition - not missed a difficult touchline conversion as the clock ticked towards the 80 minute mark.

The result leaves the six-times Super League champions languishing in seventh spot with only three wins from eight fixtures and facing games over Easter against champions Wigan Warriors and table-toppers Castleford Tigers, only a super optimist will be brave enough to predict a Saints’ double.

Three late first half tries - two by impressive stand-off Theo Fages and another from winger Adam Swift - were delivered on the back of breath-taking handling, leaving fans in the crowd rubbing their hands in anticipation of a second-half onslaught.

But in the final 20 minutes Saints crumbled like a freshly-made loaf of bread and in the end a draw was probably the fairest outcome.

At the same time out-of-sorts St Helens could argue that Huddersfield’s point-saving try should have been ruled out after there were question marks over whether centre Sam Wood then grounded the ball.

Head coach Keiron Cunningham lamented: “I was sat 150 metres away from the corner and even I could see Wood knocked the ball on. There are four stood around there and they still can’t get the decision right. It is disappointing the game ends on that, but that is sport.’’

Had it been a Sky match no doubt the video referee would have been consulted - and possibly a different decision made - but when you are struggling to find any kind of genuine form these type of calls often go against you.

Even the ball struck the spike on top of one of the post to deny Mark Percival a first half conversion which, as events unfolded, could have been vital to the final outcome - an inch or two the different between success and failure and something I can’t recall ever seeing in more than 30 years watching Saints.

It’s now a case of coach Keiron Cunningham and his players going back to the drawing board and finding a solution to their problems sooner rather than later - and that won’t be easy.