Yates’ verdict: Saints were just magnificent

Saints head coach Keiron Cunningham
Saints head coach Keiron Cunningham

The Magnificent Seventeen ... that’s the only way to describe the Saints squad!

Apologies for slightly re-titling the epic 1960s western, which starred such film legends as Yul Brynner, Steve McQueen and Charles Bronson, but it seemed a fitting description of the Saints’ players who pulled on the famous Red Vee jersey and shot to pieces Warrington’s four-match unbeaten run at the Halliwell-Jones Stadium this season.

More remarkable, they achieved the feat against the early pacesetters in Super League with eight youngsters between the ages of 19 and 21 - one making his senior debut and another featuring for only the second time at this level.

Head coach Keiron Cunningham can be as proud as a peacock at the contributions from Jack Owens, Jake Spedding, Theo Fages, Andre Savelio, Jack Ashworth, Greg Richards, Luke Thompson and Morgan Knowles.

It also justified his faith in tossing so many of his young guns into what, on paper, was arguably the toughest fixture of season to date - and left the doubters who had fully expected Saints to be on the receiving end of a mother and father of a hiding.

Neither should the input of the more senior members of the squad be overlooked as they helped coax their less experienced team-mates through a nerve-shredding, pulsating, end-to-end battle - synonymous of fixtures between the near neighbours since the Wolves moved to their new stadium in 2004..

For 80 minutes it had fans on the edge of their seats - Warrington opening an early 10 point advantage, falling behind and subsequently regaining the lead 30 seconds from the half-time hooter.

Then, in an equally dramatic final 40 minutes, Saints looked to have wrapped up the points when leading 25-14 with less than 10 minutes remaining, only for a resurgent Wire to close the gap to a slender three points, leaving the visitors clinging on for dear life.

But it would have been a travesty of justice had Saints succumbed on the night and more than compensated for the narrow defeat they had suffered seven days earlier against Hull FC at Langtree Park.

The only disappointment after Friday’s memorable 25-22 victory is that Saints remain sixth in the table but the result will have put them in the right frame of mind as they face another daunting task when high-flying Catalan Dragons - normally not the best of travellers - come to Langtree Park on Thursday night with four away wins already under their belts.

It goes without saying that Saints will need to produce a repeat performance if they are to pick up the spoils in what is expected to be a third successive closely fought affair - and probably another spine-tingling night for the fans!