Yates’ verdict: How fortunes have changed

Castleford Tigers Luke Dorn is tackled by Saints' Dominique Peyroux
Castleford Tigers Luke Dorn is tackled by Saints' Dominique Peyroux

Had any fan suggested when out-of-sorts Saints trudged heads bowed from the Stade Brutus Gilbert on a sultry Saturday night in June that come the final lap of the Super 8s they would still have a mathematical chance of third spot in the table, he or she would have laughed out of sight.

At that stage of the regular season, they had just lost their ninth league match in 18 outings to the Catalans Dragons, a growing number of supporters were calling for the head of coach Keiron Cunningham, and future prospects looked bleak.

Saints head coach Kieron Cunningham has presided over a stunning transformation in the club's fortunes

Saints head coach Kieron Cunningham has presided over a stunning transformation in the club's fortunes

Now fast forward some three months - and how times and fortunes have changed!

Sunday’s hard-earned 21-8 victory at Widnes Vikings was fourth-placed Saints 10th success in their last 11 fixtures, including the scalp of the current top three, Warrington Wolves, Hull FC and Wigan Warriors, and none will relish the prospect of crossing swords with the Langtree Park outfit whether in the semi-final or final of the competition.

It’s a record unmatched by their rivals - and they will be hoping to make it 11 out of 12 when they entertain struggling Wakefield Trinity Wildcats on Friday in the final round of the Super 8s programme.

All they can do now is deliver the goods against the West Yorkshire side and keep their fingers crossed that the Catalans Dragons spring a surprise at Wigan and claim third spot on points difference.

Asssitant boss Jamahl Lolesi said: “If you had given us 10 wins and one loss from our last 11 game then we would have bitten your hand off.

“We came under a bit of stick midway through the year so it is all credit to the lads who have managed to turn it around and get going.

“A few characters have played some leading roles there, too.”

He added: “We are under no illusions, however, that there are bigger matches just around the corner. We will be putting every effort into the Wakefield game and see where we finish and then take it from there.”

Lolesi revealed that full-back Jonny Lomax had been marked absence through injury at the weekend but it was nothing serious, while winger Adam Swift and prop forward Greg Richard were substituted following head injuries.