Kristian Woolf admits injuries were not the only problem following Warrington defeat


St Helens head coach Kristian Woolf vowed not to hide behind injuries following his side’s 19-0 defeat against Warrington Wolves at the Halliwell Jones.

The region of Merseyside will awake today hoping it was all a bad dream, as a defeat against their rivals was made even worse in that respect that they didn’t score a point.

It hasn’t happened since 2015 – when Saints feel to an agonising 39-0 defeat at the hands of South Sydney Rabbitohs in the World Club Series – but when Jonny Lomax’s last-gasp try was ruled out by the referee, it was all starting to sink in.

A late shift in the pack was needed just before the teams took to the field, with prop Alex Walmsley falling to a calf problem in the warm-up.

With that, it meant six players who started in the 2019 grand final were all bed-ridden ahead of Saints’ trip to Cheshire, with Lachlan Coote, Tommy Makinson, Kyle Amor, Morgan Knowles and captain James Roby completing the set.

Things went from bad to worse just 90 seconds after the interval. With the Saints already trailing by 13 points, Mark Percival had to be removed from the field with a suspected broken collar-bone. However, Woolf believed big injuries were not the only reason his side fell to defeat.

“Alex Walmsley injured his calf in the warm-up, so he was deemed not good enough to enter the field. I don’t know exactly [the extent], we will have to get it scanned and looked at throughout the week to find out where it is at,” Woolf told the media.

“And with Mark Percival coming off through the game, that is a shoulder or collar-bone. But again, I won’t know anything until he gets scanned through the week to see where exactly it is.

“However, that is not why we lost the game. We need to be a lot better at overcoming things and I don’t think we were playing well before Percival came off the field either. So, that is certainly not the reason [we lost].”

A hostile Halliwell Jones atmosphere produced an excellent display by the Wolves, who grew into the contest as they took a 13-point advantage into the interval.

After a tightly-contested opening 20 minutes, Stefan Ratchford slotted over a double following Louie McCarthy-Scarsbrook’s high shot.

From then on, the flood gates opened and a Warrington double just before the break gave the Saints a mountain to climb. Daryl Clark the first to go over, as the dummy-half dived through a sea of Saints to touch down before Tom Lineham regained his feet on the left add another.

Blake Austin found some space around 30 metres out to guide his drop-goal over just seconds before the hooter to give the Wire a three-score lead at the interval.

Woolf’s side had to be quick out of the blocks in the second period to revive any chance at mounting a comeback, however, when quick hands from Matty Ashton found Josh Charnely in the 55th-minute the game was as good as over.

“I don’t think we played well at all. We were really ill-disciplined and we did some really out of character things. ‘What I am going to do?’ I am not too sure, but it was a really disappointing performance,” Woolf explained.

“ I just think we were well off were we were last week and I don’t think we had the same commitment in our defence. They came through our middle three times, which shows that we were not as committed defensively.

“We completed at 53% in the first-half, which is nowhere near good enough. I think the damage was done in the opening 40 and we didn’t start to get our flow of possession until the last 15-20 minutes of the game, which is nobody’s fault other than our own.”

Image – Platty Photos