St Helens are increasingly becoming a bizarre and downright difficult team to follow. They stink up the joint for a few games (even in victory) but then look good in defeat to Leeds, only to follow that with a crapfest against the Catalan Dragons. Come their first playoff game against an in-form Huddersfield Giants, they suddenly start the game looking like a monster team and threaten to completely rip apart the Giants after twenty minutes, only to retreat into their shell and narrowly hold on for the remaining sixty minutes.
Well, actually ‘narrowly hold on’ isn’t really fair, because the Giants didn’t really look all that threatening. They kept making too many mistakes at crucial times and that cost them dearly. Nathan Brown must be getting a little worried, because the Giants haven’t exactly performed admirably in their last two high-pressure games (this and the Cup final). They seemed more than capable of holding their own during the attritional forward battles that dominated the majority of the game, but they lacked a cutting edge. Worse, in the opening quarter they were ripped apart by St Helens as Kyle Eastmond and Leon Pryce troubled them with runs at the line and nifty footwork.
As for Saints, it’s hard to know what to make. If they attack like they did in the opening quarter, they could quite easily win this competition, which of course leads to the question as to why they couldn’t maintain it for a whole game. However, the one thing that will worry opposition teams is that their defence looked pretty much impregnable. It’s often understated how important defence was to the St Helens sides that dominated in the recent past, but if they have confidence that the opposition can’t score, it in turn gives them more confidence to try more outlandish attacking and consequences be damned. Saints looked like they might be gaining some confidence back, which is a worrying thought for the teams left in the playoffs.