WHILST Saints’ islander quartet Kevin Naiqama, Joseph Paulo, Zeb Taia and Dom Peyroux joined Giants Suaia Matagi and Ukuma Ta’ai for prayers in a huddle at the end of what was a pulsating cup tie, many of their teammates lay flat out on the turf looking utterly exhausted.

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There were probably a few Hail Marys being said off the pitch too - It had been one of those games.

Although Saints won 22-16, with Naiqama’s 61st minute score proving decisive, they were never comfortable despite seeming to have the lion’s share of territory and being in control of the game.

Maybe this is the pressure that falls on a side desperate to get to Wembley after ten years in purgatory – or it could just be that they were up against a dogged Giants side playing for their season.

The much slower ruck certainly stymied Saints' attack, but they still had enough to break out.

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They trailed twice, were pegged level around the hour mark and were never more than a score ahead – no wonder there was a palpable sense of relief on both sides of the pitch perimeter fence.

Although Regan Grace’s try from a long Lachlan Coote pass had given Saints the lead after 15 minutes, they were never going to walk this and even the large travelling crowd picked up on the anxiety early doors.

It needed a Theo Fages try to cancel out scores from Joe Wardle and Aaron Murphy to go in the break two points up.

But even when Coote hoovered up a tap back, Wardle’s second try threw the fat back into the fire again.

And that kept spitting, even after Naiqama’s try, with the game never over.

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To their credit Saints did significantly up their defensive game, but they will look back at the tape and look how they can end their sets better.

They may also scratch their heads at some of the uncharacteristically panicky things they did with the ball when cooler heads would have seen the game home.

And with Saints already knowing that they will play Wakefield at home in the next round, they will have had an advance warning of what they will face from sides who will be prepared to up their game significantly in the one-off knockout arena.

St Helens Star:

Huddersfield: McIntosh; Senior, Turner, Murphy, Senior; Gaskell, Frawley; English, O'Brien, Matagi, Wardle, Mellor, Clough. Subs: Leeming, Roberts, Hewitt, Ta'ai.

Saints: Coote; Makinson, Naiqama, Costello, Grace; Lomax, Fages; Walmsley, Roby, Lees, Taia, Peyroux, Knowles. Subs: Paulo, Ashworth, Amor, Smith.