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Saints looking for a tonic after cup exit
BARRING a massive upset, Saints will move back to the top of Super League tonight when they play against a so far winless London Broncos – but don't expect to hear the sound of champagne corks popping.
Although the table should give a little perspective to where the Saints team is at this season it will do little to lift the air of despondency that has descended on Langtree Park after being knocked off the Wembley trail.
Good Friday and the Challenge Cup mean so much to the club and its followers - and losing those two fixtures has provoked an exasperated and sometimes angry response from fans.
Those defeats will weigh heavily on the next segment of the Super League campaign, not least because it is a long way to go before the business end and the next set of do-or-die set of fixtures. What has gone wrong?
Five weeks ago the team was bouncing with enthusiasm, playing good football and exuding confidence – even when the team packed with kids played against Leeds in March.
Coming up against the two best teams in the competition came at a time when they were still re-adjusting after a spell of injuries and suspensions had disrupted that early rhythm; a period which allowed a few bad habits to fester.
Coach Nathan Brown defended himself against charges that unnecessary tinkering had contributed to the team's calamitous Easter period.
He said: “99 per cent of the changes have been forced – through injury or suspension – they have not been coach driven.
“Hopefully preparing well and having some consistency with the team selection will help get that flow back.
“The Wigan and Leeds games were good games for neutrals to watch, but to Saints coach, fan or player the scoreboard does not make you feel that way.”
Brown now has a huge responsibility in getting that bounce back into the 2014 campaign.
He said: “The reality is that we need to get back to winning ways and start to build some momentum because we now have only one competition left to play for.
“We need to go out there and play as well as we can and win every game we can.”
Special attention will have to be focused on defence – after a leaky run of games.
“I don’t like the number of points in the Wigan and Leeds games because they are tough sides to score against and you don’t want to be allowing 30.
“We have got one or two people who are coming up with a bit of a brain snap.
“It is not a one-person problem so it is not a case of getting rid of that individual, it is a mixture.
“For long periods of the game you see how good Leeds are and we handled them well. But if you have one or two lapses against Leeds they will hurt you,” he said.