Cunningham praises St Helens resilience following opening-night win

St Helens coach Keiron Cunningham praised the resilience of his side following an opening-night victory against Leeds: but admitted it wasn’t pretty.

The Saints overcame a 4-0 half-time deficit to win 6-4 courtesy of Theo Fages’ second-half try – which left Cunningham a happy man despite aspects of his side’s play being below-par.

“It wasn’t pretty at times but we worked exceptionally hard,” Cunningham said. “The resilience of the players is second to none.

“I was a little bit disappointed with certain aspects of the first half but the penalty count was 7-2 at half-time and once the possession evened itself out, I thought we would come through and I think we deserved the result.”

Both teams looked distinctly rusty but Saints deserve much credit for the way they coped without injured scrum-half Matty Smith and overcame the loss of England full-back Jonny Lomax with a head injury just before half-time.

Cunningham says Lomax will be fit for his club’s next match in a fortnight’s time and he was encouraged with the debut of 20-year-old scrum-half Danny Richardson, who played alongside tryscorer Theo Fages in place of broken-leg victim Smith.

“I was pleased with both the halves,” he said. “The game plan we gave them was really simple and they stuck to it. Danny was great and Theo was brilliant. He took his try well and I thought his defence was outstanding.”