Paul Wellens confident St Helens can challenge for fifth Super League crown
Paul Wellens believes his St Helens side are shaping up for an assault on a fifth straight Super League crown after a stirring second-half performance saw them hammer Huddersfield 48-6 in Newcastle.
Tommy Makinson starred with four tries in an individual Magic Weekend record of 28 points but it was a complete team performance that impressed Wellens after a season in which they have so far struggled to re-assert their dominance.
“The desire is burning,” said Wellens. “What this team wants to do is continue to be successful, because which other team will be in a position to win five in a row again?
“The team know that what they’ve achieved already is special, but why can’t it be even more special? We won’t get carried away and talk about titles but if we continue to do everything you saw today, we’ll have every chance of putting ourselves in those big games again.”
Kevin Naiqama had given struggling Huddersfield an early lead but Saints built a 10-point advantage at the interval, after which it turned into the Makinson show as the 31-year-old persistently exploited the Giants’ inadequacy down the right flank.
“I’m delighted with Tommy,” added Wellens. “Whilst he has not been playing poorly, what I really liked today was it will be about him scoring four tries, but I loved his strong defensive work and making strong decisions.
“When Tommy gets that side of his game right, as well as the finishing which undoubtedly he’s wonderful at, you’ve got the complete winger and that’s why he’s up there as one of the best wingers in the world.”
Giants boss Ian Watson admitted it is time for a number of his players to stand up and be counted after another damaging defeat in which his side spiralled to defeat after an encouraging early spell.
“I thought the first half scoreline flattered them (Saints) a bit, I still felt we were in the game at half-time but the momentum just went completely.
“They played on the front foot and picked us off too easily on our left edge. The most disappointing thing today was how poor our left edge was defensively.
“It was nowhere near the level of performance we need to be. Some individuals are way of the mark at the moment and it’s up to them to get better or for us to make a choice on whether to replace them going forward.
“You don’t want to have to drop players or take them out, you want them to do their job, but sometimes players go through a bit of a dip and it’s a cut-throat business. You have to be that way and make those calls on people.”