SAINTS French international scrum half Theo Fages took a real grip of Thursday night’s game against Hull KR.

In the absence of full back Lachlan Coote, who has taken much of the team’s kicking in the past two seasons, a bigger responsibility has fallen on the half backs for that last tackle play.

It was a challenge they have risen to, and Fages kicking game was key to earning a string of goal line drop-outs which ratcheted up the pressure on Rovers.

And he varied that with some accurate, attacking, cross field kicks to Tommy Makinson which always posed a degree of threat to the Rovers line.

And as a final top-off with the boot, Fages chipped over the one-pointer to finally kill of the Rovers’ resistance by making it a three-score lead.

Saints coach Kristian Woolf was happy to see the development in the scrum half’s game.

He said: “I am happy with the way he is going.

“He gets a lot of attention with backrowers wanting to run at him and he aims up there defensively every week.

“His kicking game, as you saw on Thursday, is really good and once you get into that good ball area those little repeat-set kicks and putting them in the corners, he did a great job.

“And he has done that ever since I have been here so I am happy with him.”

Fages joined Saints from Salford in 2016 and largely played the stand off role under then coach Keiron Cunningham in that year and going into 2017.

He was relegated to a bench spot in 2018, Justin Holbrook’s first full season in charge, with Danny Richardson partnering Jonny Lomax in the halves.

However, Saints failure in the two crunch games that year, plus the arrival of a different type of full back in Coote, prompted a change of strategy.

So Fages displaced Richardson at scrum half and his partnership with Lomax has continued under Woolf and has helped deliver two Super League titles.

Woolf said: “You need a bit of balance at half back.

“Jonny and Theo balance each other out really well.

“Jonny is an outstanding player - and I would go so far as saying he is our best attacking player.

“And because of that teams defend him really hard and he has quite often got the full back plus extra numbers in front of him.

“Teams do their homework and make it really hard.

“Theo is a great foil for him.”

With prodigy Lewis Dodd champing at the bit, with the box of tricks he appears to have in his toolkit, the current half back combination will remain on their toes - with the squad better for the cover and competition that bring.