30 September 2023

Paul Wellens praises James Roby and Louie McCarthy-Scarsbrook as Saints progress

30 September 2023

St Helens head coach Paul Wellens praised James Roby and Louie McCarthy-Scarsbrook after the long-serving duo marked the final home game of their respective careers by fashioning a 16-8 play-off win over Warrington.

Roby in particular, making his record 550th appearance for the club, milked the applause of the home fans after a hard-fought win that sends Saints to Catalans in the semi-finals on Friday, and keeps alive his dream of wrapping up his career with a fifth straight Grand Final win.

Wellens said: “There was a big fanfare in the ground today and a huge amount of love for two blokes, and the biggest compliment I can pay them is that they are a little bit embarrassed by it all.

“It just shows how humble and down to earth they are. They deserve every superlative and tap on the back that they get.

“They are two incredible people who have been a massive influence on this team and this club.”

Saints were required to draw on all the duo’s experience after failing to make the most of a dominant first half in which Lewis Dodd’s try and four points from the boot of Mark Percival were all they had to show for their efforts.

A try from Connor Wrench within two minutes of the restart, following a yellow card for Alex Walmsley, set Wire on the way to improbably clawing level, but Saints regrouped and Tommy Makinson’s effort on the hour helped them home.

“It was frustrating that we didn’t nail a couple more of those first-half chances and that’s something we want to improve on because in the big games the opportunities are few and far between,” added Wellens.

“But after Warrington scored then Alex was sin-binned the momentum shifted and that’s when the resilience of the group really showed up.

“In tough moments in big games, that’s when they’re going to come up and you’ve got to overcome them, and that’s the most pleasing thing about today.”

Wellens’ counterpart Gary Chambers blamed small errors for his side’s defeat but believes incoming Warrington head coach Sam Burgess will have plenty of quality to work with next season.

Chambers, who took on the interim role after Daryl Powell’s departure early last month and managed to nudge his ailing side into the play-offs, cautioned against wholesale changes in the close-season.

“It doesn’t need ripping up – it just needs some tinkering with,” said Chambers, who will revert to his role as Wire’s director of rugby when Burgess arrives next month.

To win these kinds of games you've just got to get a little bit more clinical

“There’s enough positive things for him to work with. It’s the small things now, and he’ll look at those and address those.”

Chambers bemoaned Saints’ marginal gains that enabled the hosts to withstand Wire’s comeback early in the second period.

“There was plenty of effort but you can’t do some of the things we did in these kinds of games and expect to get a result,” added Chambers.

“It was the finer details of the whole thing. To win these kinds of games you’ve just got to get a little bit more clinical.

“It was a game I expected us to go out and win and we did compete but we just came up a little bit short.”

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