SAINTS’ capitulation to Warrington at the Etihad Stadium on Sunday has provoked plenty of soul searching at all levels of the club and its supporters.
Lambasted by skipper Paul Wellens as “embarrassing” and pulled apart by coach Nathan Brown, the defeat represented the third time this term that Saints had failed to deliver the goods on the big stage.
Although Brown dismissed talk that the club was facing some sort of crisis, pointing to the league table which sees Saints a point off the top, he was nevertheless scathing about aspects of the game that they must correct or forget about any chances of Old Trafford.
Brown explained: “The first 20 minutes of the game were similar to the Wigan Good Friday game.
“Once again it was another big occasion against a strong team with Ben Harrison and Ben Westwood back, players that have helped Warrington win trophies.
“But in the early exchanges we were not good enough to give ourselves a chance of winning the game.
“At the end of the day if you are going to win a trophy you have to be able to beat teams like Wigan and Warrington on the big occasions. We need to do better on those big games.”
He pointed out that Wellens, Jon Wilkin and James Roby are now the only members of his squad who have won things, remarking that the younger players and more recent additions need to be aware of the step up required to win big matches.
Once again, attention was focused on Saints’ appalling start to the game – a recurring theme of this season.
“Some of the early exchanges we are not at the level we need to be and big games can be decided in the first 10-20 minutes and that is an area we need to improve in.
“We can bury our head in the sands – and although we are not in a crisis, given we are second in the ladder, but we need to get better against certain teams at certain times to help us get to where we need to go,” Brown said.
Brown said he understood the anger expressed by fans trudging away from the Etihad, but threw that back to his players as motivational tool challenging to match the commitment of the fans.
“I have only been here 12 months and one of the things I have learned about the St Helens fans is that they are very passionate fans.
“They are used to winning a lot more than they are used to losing.
“And three, a lot of them come from harder backgrounds, low income earners who work all week to provide for their family and all their spare cash goes to follow St Helens.
“Our away support is brilliant.
“It is not the losing they care about it is the manner in which we lose.
“At the weekend we had a lot of disappointed fans due to the manner of the way we had lost.
“Some of the younger players and newer players that have come in need to realise that the people of this town have their families and then they have their rugby league team.
“And they want to see the same effort on the field that they put in off it to support them.”