THE game against Leeds Rhinos was an absolute must-win game for me, after two disappointing performances and losses against Catalans and Leigh…and the boys certainly delivered.

With a number of casualties on the sidelines, including the two most devastating ball carriers, Alex Walmsley and Agnatius Paasi who we have seen the last of in 2023, it was left to the young lads to step up and turn things around.

Full credit to youngsters Sam Royle, Lewis Baxter and for me one of the stars of the future in the Betfred Super League, 19-year-old prop George Delaney.

Coach Paul Wellens was full of praise for these three, whom he said he knew would give everything they’ve got for the team and leave nothing in the tank.

They certainly did that, in what was a fiery, nip and tuck game…just what you’d expect from these two clubs.

With more first-choice forwards unavailable, namely LMS, Sironen, Mata’utia and Batchelor, it showed what good hands the future Saints pack is in.

For a change, there were very few shock results in the Betfred Super League round 20!

Wigan defeated Leigh Leopards in the ‘Battle of the Borough’ , probably expected after the high the previous week of Leigh reaching the Betfred Challenge Cup Final.

Sam Tomkins reached a career 1500 points milestone as the league leaders Catalans put the sword to the out-of-sorts Salford Red Devils.

Some may say a shock, some won’t after recent performances…but the talking point of the round has to be bottom club Wakefield's demolition of Warrington, by 42-6.

A defeat that has cost head coach Daryl Powell his job. There are some serious questions to be answered at a club where so much money has been invested, for absolutely no return.

Title sponsors Betfred are sticking with the Saints as their 2/1 favourites to win the trophy at Old Trafford in October, with Catalans Dragons at (5/2), followed by Wigan (7/2), start-of-season outsiders Leigh (7/1) and Warrington (8/1) despite losing eight of their last nine games.

To be honest, after what I’ve seen so far this season…anybody could win it!

It’s about firstly getting in the top six play-off places and hit those games healthy and in some good form.

If Catalans can keep up their current form they are clearly going to be in the mix. Never right off the Saints!…albeit I hope injuries don’t bite us later down the line. Wigan and Leeds, as we saw this weekend, can turn on performances when required.

Finally, a lot of credit was given to the Saints trio of youngster previously mentioned, but the star of the show was another youngster, whose age is sometimes forgotten due to his standing in the game now, Jack Welsby.

Welsby was the x-factor in the Saints win over the Rhinos having a hand in Will Hopoate’s opening try, then crossing for two himself. The second one, hailed by Wello as ‘breathtaking’.

Jack is far from the finished article, with improvements in his game to be made, certainly defensively…but he’s working with one of the best there’s been in that department. Also, a few subtle additions to his offensive game….but this kid is a natural talent!

His ability to see what is in front of him, and exploit it, is something not a lot of players possess, and there’s no doubt as he continues to work hard and keep getting better he will be the superstar of the Betfred Super League, if he isn’t already.

Next up for the Saints is the Salford Red Devils at AJ Bell Stadium this Sunday. Paul Rowley’s men have lost their last five Super League matches, and I can’t see that run ending this weekend. I’m going for a win from the champions by at least 12 points.