Yates’ verdict: St Helens youngsters impress in far from convincing win over Hull FC

St Helens half back Lewis Dodd. Image: Mark Metcalfe/Getty ImagesSt Helens half back Lewis Dodd. Image: Mark Metcalfe/Getty Images
St Helens half back Lewis Dodd. Image: Mark Metcalfe/Getty Images | Getty Images
Both teams missed gilt-edge chances to wrap up the points.

The eyes of the Rugby League world were totally focused on champions St Helens when they emerged from the Totally Wicked Stadium tunnel ahead of Friday’s showdown with fellow strugglers Hull FC.

Two defeats in three games since they returned home in triumph following an outstanding World Club Challenge victory over NRL title holders Penrith Panthers wasn’t what the doctor ordered and while the 20-12 victory over the Humbersiders will have given head coach Paul Wellens’ boys a much-needed shot in the arm, it was still a far from convincing and polished performance from the defending champions. In all honesty, the result could have gone either way.

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Both teams missed gilt-edge chances to wrap up the points and no-one needs to tell Wellens only hard work on the training ground will remedy the situation, starting with a tough-looking TV fixture against Huddersfield Giants at the John Smith Stadium on Thursday night.

Wellens said: "Certain areas of our game aren’t clicking at the moment, but in terms of grit and the effort we had it in buckets full, which was extremely pleasing.

"It was vital we got two points and were rewarded for our efforts, but I am keen as a coach not to get too downbeat and dispirited when we do lose games, but also on the flip side not get too carried away when we do win.

"We’ll assess this game and go back to the drawing board, look at areas where we can improve and there are plenty of those, but I’m really pleased for the players to get the rewards for their efforts."

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Saints suffered one or two disruptions, losing Mark Percival 60 seconds before the kick with a tight calf problems and other strike players due to suspension, but flying winger Tee Ritson stepped up to the plate and showed his true professionalism.

So, too, did quick-thinking half back Lewis Dodd, who seems to grow in stature every time he steps out on to the park. Wellens said: "Lewis is improving all the time and being a No.7 is also a quality kicker."

St Helens half back Lewis Dodd. Image: Mark Metcalfe/Getty ImagesSt Helens half back Lewis Dodd. Image: Mark Metcalfe/Getty Images
St Helens half back Lewis Dodd. Image: Mark Metcalfe/Getty Images | Getty Images

The boss also found time to lord the praises of opening try scorer Ben Davies for a gritty performance in which he suffered a nasty head injury. It required stitches but failed to keep him on the sidelines until later in the game.

Winger John Bennison, too, was another of Saints’ young guns to catch the eye, grabbing two second-half tries and ensuring the first home Super League win of the campaign.

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