Last night as they celebrated the career of star player Mark Percival, St Helens defeated Widnes Vikings 16-12 with James Bell, Curtis Sironen and Lewis Dodd.
After the came new coach Paul Wellens reflected on the game and acknowledged that it was a tough game for the Champions to negotiate.
“I know from my playing days that sometimes pre-season friendlies can be a really difficult game especially for ourselves with a trip to Australia which provides us with a different challenge for us but the way we approached that today was fantastic,” he said on Saints TV.
“We challenged them beforehand to have a strong mindset to not go and try and search for points and don’t take risks when it’s not necessary. Instead play our own game, and take the chances when they come to us and in the first half we certainly did that.”
The game was the perfect chance for star halfback Lewis Dodd to return to the fold he didn’t miss a beat getting over for a try on his return and Wellens believes the young man takes the Champions to another level:
“I pay Doddy huge respect there in the dressing room. I think what a lot of people don’t see is the lonely early mornings, week on week, month on month, particularly coming back from an injury like Doddy has, he’s done it tough but you start to see that twinkle in his eye again and the spring in his step.
“He’s slotted back in quite seamlessly, given his rugby intelligence I expected that and he certainly improves us as a team.”
Sadly, the man of the hour couldn’t feature but Wellens paid tribute to Percival after the game:
“The turnout is a true reflection of what our supporters think of Mark. He cares about this club so much, he pushed so hard to play.”