Slick St Helens starting to look unstoppable
29 March 2019 - Written by Zack Wilson
St Helens are beginning to look like champions in waiting in Super League this season, having won al of their seven league games so far in 2019.
They have scored 207 points and conceded just 80 in those seven games.
Justin Holbrook’s men have scored 39 tries so far this season, more than any other Super League side, and can probably look forward to adding to that tally against struggling Hull Kingston Rovers on Friday evening.
They have also made 58 clean breaks this season, the second highest in Super League, and have made 10,126 metres in total, also the second highest in the league.
Saints are not a flash or flamboyant team. In attack, they look smooth and slick, like a Tour de France cyclist negotiating a downhill slope at speed.
They are not flash or flamboyant, this is not a team which is based on individuals producing outstanding moments.
Rather, this Saints team consists of players who are so well-drilled that they fit into a system almost without appearing to realise it.
When they make a break, there is always a player in support, running an effective line.
They rarely seem to run out of space. It is not often that wide players have to check back inside to rediscover momentum – moves just flow.
French halfback Theo Fages has emerged as the team’s general on the field.
The Frenchman plays with such confidence and courage now, and his decision making has become superb. It is very rare that he chooses the wrong option.
His defence also deserves credit. For a man of relatively diminutive stature, Fages throws himself into tackles fearlessly.
The fact that Danny Richardson, rated as one of the top up-and-coming halves in England, has had to go out on dual registration to Leigh Centurions to get game time is a sign of just how good Fages is.
Lachlan Coote is a big part of the slick Saints style that looks so good this season.
The Scotland international fullback is an all-round rugby league player. He can slot into the line as a second stand-off to provide additional creativity out wide, and has also a formidable kicking game in his arsenal.
He is reliable under the high ball and, like all the current Saints team, knows how to defend too.
He fits into the mould of this current Saints team perfectly, in that there is little that is flamboyant about his game.
He, along with Welsh winger Regan Grace, must be forcing his way into contention for a Great Britain tour place.
Another candidate might well be Welsh international loose forward Michael Knowles, who has made an outstanding 64 tackles from marker this season.
At the heart of what St Helens do is, of course, James Roby. The 33-year-old hooker looks as good, and possibly better, than he has at any stage of his long career.
Roby has made 243 tackles in his six Super League appearances so far in 2019, and has carried the ball 70 times for an average gain of 8.67 metres.
He has scored three tries and provided five assists for his team-mates.
He is the heartbeat of this Saints side, a side which is beginning to look unstoppable in its march towards the Grand Final.