St Helens boss Keiron Cunningham finds cause for cheer but Sydney rule the roost

Published: Friday 19th February 2016 by The News Editor

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St Helens coach Keiron Cunningham was able to take plenty of positives from his team’s 38-12 defeat by Sydney Roosters in the opening match of the 2016 Dacia World Club Series.

Beaten 39-0 by South Sydney 12 months ago and 44-10 by Salford in Super League as recently as February 11, Saints were heading for another humiliation when they trailed 22-0 to the Roosters at half-time.

However two tries from centre Dominique Peyroux helped the Super League outfit stage a second-half rally.

“I thought we started really well,” Cunningham said. “I was happy with the response we got from last week. It was bit of a tough call for play in the build-up to the first try.

“I’m proud of my middles, the difference was the outside backs of Sydney Roosters. They took their opportunities and got a lot of tries against the run of play.

“That’s why they are where they are, they are a great side, full of stars who can do a lot of special things.

“It was unfortunate the scoreline blew out as it did, I didn’t think it justified the game. I thought it was a lot closer than that.

“It was a good challenge for my boys. I didn’t think my middles fell short but we, weren’t too great in the halves and the outside backs let us down in certain areas.

“Dominique Peyroux was the shining light for us among some of our kids.

“We had some busted bodies out there, with a few people playing with needles and I thought they did well for us.”

St Helens’ Australian scrum-half Luke Walsh blundered early in the game when using a free play that operates in Super League but not under international rules.

Cunningham said: “We understand every aspect of the rules going into the game but you’ve got no bearing on what players do in the heat of the moment. It didn’t change the outcome of the game.”

St Helens sorely missed England hooker James Roby, who sat out a second match with a rib injury, but Cunningham drew encouragement from the display of Travis Burns, who switched into the role on his first appearance of the season.

“I knew he could do a good job, he played there at Penrith,” Cunningham said. “He’s just not played there for a long period of time and we tried to cram a lot of information into him this week. I thought he did a really good job, it gives us a good option moving forward.”

Sydney Roosters coach Trent Robinson was pleased with the way his side coped in the absence of suspended Mitchell Pearce, with teenager Jayden Nikorima overcoming an early head knock to play a major role in his side’s seven-try success.

“I thought it was a very good performance, especially in the first half,” Robinson said.

Robinson sprung something of a surprise by leaving out new signing Joe Burgess, the former Wigan winger, who lost out to another youngster, Latrell Mitchell, but insisted the England international would get plenty of game time this season.

“It was probably the toughest call,” Robinson said. “Latrell has been there all off-season, whereas Joe has had five or six weeks with us.

“But he’s a very good player and he’ll play a lot of NRL this year.”

Published: Friday 19th February 2016 by The News Editor

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