Yates’ verdict: Only a fool would bet against Saints now

Keiron Cunningham has guided Saints to within 80 minutes of reaching another Grand Final
Keiron Cunningham has guided Saints to within 80 minutes of reaching another Grand Final
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Saints are now only 80 minutes away from reaching a second Grand Final in three years and in their present mood it would be foolish to bet against them lifting the coveted trophy at Old Trafford in early October.

Nine wins in the last 10 outings - five in the regular Super League season and four in the Super 8s - is a record second to none in this period and they will be hoping to extend it further when they visit Widnes Vikings on Sunday,September 18, and then entertain Wakefield Trinity Wildcats on Friday, September 23.

On paper and form points from the final two fixtures in the Super League 8s ahead of the sudden-death semi-finals look cast-iron certainties.

But head coach Keiron Cunningham doesn’t see it that way - and has already warned his players of the danger posed by teams already out of the hunt for a top four spot and with nothing to lose.

He will be demanding the same kind of performance from his players - apart from the 25-0 drubbing suffered at Wigan a few weeks ago - in order to keep ther current momentum going during the run-in.

It’s not a time to step off the gas thinking you are on easy street and I don’t expect Saints to fall into that trap.

All Cunningham will be asking his players is to show the same kind of form displayed in the 40-16 drubbing of Castleford Tigers at Langtree Park on Thursday night and the 31-10 spanking of Hull FC the previous week and it will leave him a happy man..

To score more than 70 points against quality opposition, even though both were without key players for a variety of reasons, is no mean feat and in each case Saints showed their insatiable appetite to overcome a couple of dodgy starts.

Neither should it be ignored that, despite the final score lines, they had to work their socks off, especially defensively. to achieve their goal.

Cas, in particular gave them a stern examination early on - twice edging ahead before succumbing to a combination of power play and lethal finishing.

And neither should it be overlooked that five of Saints’ seven tries came from forwards Matty Knowles, Kyle Amor, Luke Thompson, Louie McCarthy-Scarsbrook and Alex Walmsley

The days when the pack consisted of crash,bang wallop merchants are long since gone in the modern game !

Cunningham, still insisting that it is a case of focusing on each game as it comes, said: “We aren’t in a bad spot. If it wasn’t for a poor performance with the ball in hand at Wigan, we probably should be 10 from 10. We are still edgy at the start of games and we have to overcome that.

“Now we face two games that are similar to tonight - sides that are hell-bent on shaking things up in for the top four. Saints v Widnes games are always entertaining, too.”