Cunningham: Saints were schooled

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Published: Monday 23rd February 2015 by The News Editor

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St Helens coach Keiron Cunningham admitted his team were taught a lesson by South Sydney as they crashed to a record defeat in the 2015 World Club Challenge.

Co-owner Russell Crowe’s decision to put rugby league before the Oscars paid off as he watched his beloved Rabbitohs follow up their 2014 NRL title triumph and their recent success in the NRL Nines to claim a first world crown with a 39-0 win in front of a sell-out 17,980 crowd at Langtree Park.

Michael Maguire’s team ran in seven tries while Adam Reynolds’ late drop goal condemned Saints to the heaviest defeat in the tournament’s history, narrowly eclipsing their 38-0 loss to Sydney Roosters in 2003 and their 44-6 defeat by Melbourne in 2000.

“I really am disappointed,” Cunningham said. “We probably got schooled by the best side in the world.

“Sometimes you’ve got to to lose in a big fashion to learn some lessons.

“It’s going to be a good education from my players, especially my younger players.

“I know my team are a lot better than they tossed up.”

St Helens got off to the worst possible start, conceding a try to debutant Glenn Stewart inside the first two minutes, and were out of the contest by half-time, when they trailed 24-0.

“The first 20 minutes hurt us,” Cunningham added. “I am not sure what rules we were playing to but I didn’t recognise them.

“I know how good they are, Michael Maguire is bit of an idol of mine as a coach and I knew what they were going to do.

“They didn’t do anything different. They completed in the upper 80s (completion rate percentages) in the first half and 93 in the second, whereas we were 62 and 50.”

Maguire was delighted with his side’s performance, although he was not aware until afterwards of the record victory margin.

“I was told at the end of the game that we broke the record, which was good,” the former Wigan coach said.

“I’m really proud of the players. We set out to come here and be as professional as we could be and it was a great performance.

“The boys turned up for pre-season in great shape, they are a team of guys who want to improve.”

South captain Greg Inglis, who was one of six tryscorers, said his side’s victory was the perfect preparation for their opening NRL match against Brisbane.

“It’s going to be great season ahead,” Inglis said.

“It’s all about the Broncos now. I’m over the moon with the way the boys performed, now our focus is on round one.”

Published: Monday 23rd February 2015 by The News Editor

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