Saints’ coach Paul Wellens will certainly have been relieved with the two points after two consecutive defeats in previous weeks
It was a hard-fought 20-12 triumph over an equally out-of-form Hull FC. In his post-match interview, Wello spoke of his delight for the win, but it didn’t disguise the fact that there is still a lot of improvement to get to where he wants his team’s performances to be.
On the flip side, despite two losses, his players are not a million miles from that standard he requires – and let’s remember this is the same team that turned out one of the best performances seen by an English side when they defeated the Penrith Panthers only a month ago.
However that game has now gone, along with any talk of WCC hangovers, as all focus must be on the Betfred Super League and of course climbing up that league table.
Back to Friday, and despite it being far from a classic there was big praise for a number of the Saints’ team. Lewis Dodd had a hand in a number of tries and picked up the man of the match award on the night. Paul Wellens was very quick in praising Dodd, especially regarding his kicking game … something I must admit I’ve been critical of in recent games.
Lewis is a very gifted player with all the tools, but sometimes I think is guilty of trying to solve everything himself rather than the simple effective play. BUT one thing you never want to take away from a young halfback is their confidence to back what they see, and in regards to steering the team and controlling things, this is something he is continuing to improve game by game.
Another player growing with experience, and my choice for MOTM, was Saints’ young winger Jon Bennison. He scored the decisive 78th minute try that secured the win, having previously scored earlier in the game, and also having one chalked off in the first half for a forward pass. However, it’s his work rate both in attack and defence, and his sheer competitiveness that impresses me more.
His fellow winger Tee Ritson also came in for praise from his gaffer. Not only for his performance but his professionalism, in a late call-up following the late withdrawal of Mark Percival who felt a calf strain during warm up.
There was a 22nd birthday try for full back Jack Welsby, after an outstanding offload from James Bell. Welsby is such a key figure in this current Saints team, and when he performs the result usually follows.
He is an out and out full back, who has the knack of putting himself in the right position at the right time … as his try on Friday proved. Jack spoke about his meteoric rise into one of the best players in the Betfred Super League … and his work ethic to get there.
He also praised three former full-backs who have been instrumental in his development … Jonny Lomax, Lachlan Coote and the best of them all, his head coach Paul Wellens.
The Saints faithful will be hoping Welsby is on form on Thursday, as the team hope to build on the Hull FC win, as they travel to Huddersfield to face the much-fancied Giants.
Ian Watson’s team will be themselves looking to get back to winning ways after going down by two points to the Wigan Warriors last weekend.
A lot has been said about the Giants’ challenge this year, with some big name close season signings – Jake Connor, Esan Marsters, and former Saint Kevin Naiqama to name but a few. I’m still to be convinced, however.
I think between the full back/half back combinations of Connor, Will Pryce, Tui Lolohea, Theo Fages and Olly Russell there is undoubtedly a lot of talent, but also individual mavericks who can be rocks or diamonds. Let’s hope the former come Thursday!
The bar is currently being set by both Warrington and Catalan at the top of the Betfred Super League ladder with five wins from five, but it’s still early days and I’m going to back the Saints to extend this return to form with a 10 points or more win at the John Smiths Stadium, which is a 2/1 shot at Betfred.
Welcome Offer – Bet £10 Get £30 in FREE Bets
New 18+ UK customers.
1st bet on sports of £10+ in one transaction at evens (2.0)+ settled within 7 days of registering.
£30 paid in free bets within 10 hours of bet settlement, 7-day expiry. Payment restrictions apply.
Full Terms & Conditions apply.