Every single game is turning into a cup final for Saints since they returned from lifting the World Club Challenge against Penrith Panthers Down Under.
Teams are putting in extra shifts in a bid to claim the prize scalp of the Betfred Super League champions and such has been the ferocity and closeness of all four domestic games to date that they could conceivably have gone either way.
Saints knew their trip across the Pennines on Thursday night to face Huddersfield Giants was a potential banana skin and had to work hard to pick up maximum points in a thrill-a-minute encounter which was delicately balanced until the final hooter sounded.
The Tykes, who are an outside tip for the title after recruiting some talented players, including ex-Saints centre Kevin Naiqama. and former Hull FC playmaker Jake Connor, will be rueing the chances they squandered due to a variety of mistakes, particularly in the second half when the whitewash was in their sights.
But to their credit Paul Wellens’ boys chiselled out a 14-12 victory without the services of Sione Mata’utia for the majority of the game - the powerhouse forward failing a head test after being replaced with only 27 seconds on the clock.
It restricted their inter-change options and it was hardly surprising several players flopped on the turf at the end suffering from sheer exhaustion and aching limbs.
Matty Lees, who was named man of the match, typified the champions dogged determination and resilience by completing more than 60 tackles and it proved a major factor in St Helens third hard-earned victory of a season - and I suspect things will get tougher in the weeks ahead,
“It was extremely testing out there but we spoke all week about it and we didn’t expect anything different,” said Wellens. “To hang in the way we did is a true test of character.
“When you lose Sione in the first minute, what you need in those situations is the team and individuals to put their hands up and play tough, and to a man we did that tonight and it was a really valuable two points.”
- Huddersfield: Pryce; Golding, Halsall, Naiqama, Senior; Marsters, Russell; Hill, Peats, Trout, McQueen, Livett, Yates.
- Interchanges: Connor, Ikahihifo, Rushton, Ashworth.
- Tries: Golding, Senior. Goals: Russell 2
- St Helens: Welsby; Makinson, Hurrell, Hopoate, Bennison; Lomax, Dodd; Walmsley, Roby, Lees, Mata’utia, Sironen, Bell.
- Tries: Hurrell, Makinson. Goals: Makinson 3
- Interchanges: Lussick, McCarthy-Scarsbrook, Paasi, Royle.