First of all, well done to the St. Helens Womens Team who ran out 40-0 winners over York City Knights Ladies on Sunday at Ruskin Drive. The match was abandoned in the second half due to a serious injury to a York City Knights player – this after a serious injury in Saints’ Pip Birchall. It seems like the injuries aren’t as bad as first thought, but it goes without saying that we wish both ladies a speedy recovery and hope they’re back on the field as soon as possible.

Saints Miss Their Wake Up Call

One of the most difficult things we do on a match day is Redvee TV’s Instant Fan Reaction. Generally, if it’s an away match, Dave will have been commentating for Wish FM and I will find a spec in the Saints section to watch the game. We don’t speak to each other during the game, we meet up about 5 or 10 minutes after the game and we film in one take. Sometimes it’s difficult to take emotion out of the game, remember certain aspects or get your point across as eruditely as you’d like. When we have other guests on, we regularly have comments of how you’ve got to be ready to go. This is true, and we’d love a varied panel of people on with us. We’re not Arsenal Fan TV, we’re not going to stitch people up, we just want your opinions. It’s certainly easier doing the WA12 Radio Show on a Monday night (18.00-20.00) when you have at least 24 hours to digest the performance and result.

Fitness Test

First of all, let’s get the elephant in the room out of the way. The referee did not cost us victory at the Mobile Rocket Stadium. The consistency, attitude and application of the St. Helens players did. That said, I’ll stand by my criticism of referee Gareth Hewer. During the game, and on Redvee TV, I commented that he was awful for both sides and that he didn’t look fit enough. From my vantage point on the touchline, neither he, nor his touch judges, enforced the 10m at the play of the ball. I’ll reiterate, that was for both sides. It was as if Mr. Hewer walked back 11m, then gave the players a bit of leeway. Also, I’d like to see him be more consistent when penalising players for moving off the mark. Louie McCarthy-Scarbrook was the only player pinged for it yesterday, but both teams took advantage of the referee’s interpretation of the rule.

I know he isn’t a full time referee, but he is refereeing a full time game. There should be certain standards to a referees’ fitness, and this is an issue that Head of Referees Steve Ganson cannot afford to bury his head in the sand over. Mr. Hewer correctly brandished 2 yellow cards yesterday but crucially missed another. There were 2 professional fouls committed by Wakefield, one on Ryan Morgan, one on Jonny Lomax, yet only one resulted in 10 minutes in the bin. Hewer was also right to send Mark Percival to the bin for dissent after he felt he had been impeded on his way to the Wakefield try line. I think it is valid enough to ask if Mr. Hewer’s fitness affects his decision making ability as the game gets faster.

I’ve previously written articles backing referees and saying they need more assistance My view hasn’t changed. The referees need their management to help them be the best they can be, not only in ability, but also in fitness.

The Game

Would James Roby have made a difference yesterday? Probably. Did Saints make enough chances to win this game? Definitely. However, a bad 20 minute period and too much indiscipline – both giving away penalties and trying to force the play cost St. Helens. Wakefield played some decent rugby but didn’t look the better team for the majority of the game. That said I can’t argue with Wakefield win, we were architects of our own downfall.

Trying to reflect on the game is difficult because it was an average performance across the park. There were positives from yesterday. Theo Fages sped up the play the ball when introduced, Tommy Makinson produced another wonder finish and Dominique Peyroux was tackling superbly.  But for some reason, Saints showed a defensive frailty barely seen this season.  Too many players didn’t bring even a 7/10 performance. But do you know what – we’re not entitled to swan up to a hostile Belle Vue and saunter away with a win. Games like these will decide who gets into the top 4 – probably not directly, but certainly when points are added up at the end of the season. I’d expect a big response on Friday when the Giants come to the Totally Wicked.

Away Tickets

Over a thousand hardy souls braved the M62 and a grey Wakefield on Sunday. Not even the Benidorm flats gave us a spark of sunshine on the day. When I bought my ticket from the Saints ticket office on Friday they had advised they’d nearly sold out of their allocation which is a great sign from Saints fans backing their team.

Obviously we, and the club, hope that this trend continues but we’d just like to remind you that buying your tickets for the game through Saints actually benefits the club. Saints receive 25% of the gate receipts for all advanced ticket sales, so by buying through the club for away games you can help Saints swell the club coffers. It’s something to bear in mind for the next away game.

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