Kristian Woolf admitted St Helens were well below par as they ground out a hard-fought 22-12 win over struggling Leigh Centurions on Friday evening.
The champions met unexpectedly strong resistance from the winless Centurions at Leigh Sports Village, but ultimately did enough to maintain their 100 per cent start in the Betfred Super League.
Two tries in quick succession early in the second half from Lachlan Coote and Jack Welsby proved the game-breaker after the scores had been locked at 6-6 at the interval. But, even then, it took another touchdown from Kevin Naiqama to finish the job after a fine interception try from Anthony Gelling.
“I thought we were off tonight,” Saints head coach Woolf said. “We were ill-disciplined and our ball security was poor.
“We never got any real flow and when we did get opportunities, we were disorganised attack-wise. Our heads weren’t where they need to be to produce what we expect.
“What we did do was defend well. That’s one positive, and if we can be as far off our standards as we were and still get a win, it’s a really good sign for the group.
“But we have done that a couple of times this year and we need to make sure we don’t put ourselves in that position any more.”
Saints’ night finished on a sour note as forward James Bentley was carried off on a stretcher in the closing minutes.
“It is a lower leg injury,” said Woolf. “The indications are it might not be a good one but I don’t want to speculate. He’ll need X-rays and scans.”
Leigh are still looking for their first victory since returning to the top flight, having now lost all five of their games.
But after last week’s capitulation at Salford Red Devils, coach John Duffy felt his side showed signs they are moving in the right direction.
“We have lost but I think we have turned the corner with our effort,” Duffy said. “We had a good chat about changing our mentality when things get tough.
“We really stayed in the game for large periods and we didn’t lose our heads after half-breaks or tries. We knew they were going to come out firing for the second half; they didn’t look too pleased at half-time.
“They did score two quick tries, but we got back into the game. We were there for the full 80 minutes. We certainly gave effort in that game.”
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