KEIRON Cunningham hailed unsung back rower Mark Flanagan as the "ultimate professional" as a determined Saints defeated Salford 32-12 at Langtree Park.

The Saints assistant coach likened the victory to a win against Catalan earlier in the season and, after losing Jon Wilkin, Tommy Makinson and Anthony Walker to injury, he said the home team had came though a real battle of attrition.

He said: "That set us up for tonight. The young kids were outstanding and Mark Flanagan for me was the best player on the field.

"He has been through a lot. He's sat on the sidelines when we were fit, watching his mates run around the field, but he is the ultimate professional.

"He's got his chance and for the last couple of weeks has been absolutely outstanding. He sets the standard to where we want to be as a club.

"The younger players were brilliant too. Greg Richards was outstanding; Joe Greenwood is an edge back rower and played it tough, in the middle. All our forwards were great.

"When you play in the middle you know that when you lose three subs, and have one front rower to roll for 40 minutes, then that is a tough ask. We're proud of the lads."

Warrington's defeat of Leeds, mean Saints now top the table and Cunningham added: "We're pleased with being top of the table. There was talk of us being in a crisis but now we're first.

"As a club we are getting our head down on the training field, going out and working hard as we can to get a result.

"Coming off the back of Magic - last year we were poor and this year we were poor again. We have had a good look at ourselves and where we wanted to be as a club and that performance was not where we wanted to be."