JONNY Lomax says a Grand Final winners’ medal would cap off a surreal season.The 21-year-old has already achieved his goal of playing one more game than his total last season – and won the Engage Super League Young Player of the Year on Monday night.Now his focus is on Old Trafford and a battle with Leeds Rhinos.“Not much can be said about the final!” he said. “I am looking forward to it. It will be a tough encounter and a massive occasion. You don’t get many chances to play in a game like this so you need to take the opportunity when it comes and also enjoy the day.“It’s been a surreal year. My goal was to play 17 games – one more than last year – and I think I have missed three all season. Now playing scrum half at Old Trafford will cap if off for me.“I’ve really enjoyed it. When we played Leeds away that was a turning point for both my and Lee Gaskell. We’d been in awe of these players and asking ourselves ‘should we really be here’. But when we played at half back then I said to Gasky ‘you know what, we do belong here’. Our confidence kicked on and it’s been great.“I was calling the plays and yelling at Jammer to get himself there. When something went wrong I lost my rag and then apologised to them! Jammer told me that was exactly what they needed and they would back me.“That makes you feel part of it and my confidence has shot up. Jammer and Leon were great with me really and I have to thank them. They used to whisper in conversation with me until I decided to talk louder. I thought it was out of order at first but it really brought me out of my shell.”Now Jonny and Lee will have the opportunity to show Super League what they can do on the biggest domestic stage of all.“We know how good Leeds are. They have strike players all over the pitch. From one to 17 we will need to bring our best,” he continued. “I played last year and watched us lose to Leeds in the finals before. It was gutting but you need to take the positives out of it. I don’t want to feel that again and I want to do best to try and achieve. It spurs you on watching the other team celebrating because you want to do it.“To win would cap a very surreal season.”That surreal season took another twist on Monday when he was named Engage Super League Young Player of the Year – and Jonny was quick to thank the people that helped him win such an accolade.“I’d like to thank the people at Orrell St James – my amateur club – and the lads I played with,” he continued. “The Youth Development team at Saints have been excellent since I have been at the club – especially Mike Rush and Derek Traynor who have always supported me.“Rugby League is a team game and therefore it would be wrong not to thank all the players I have lined up with this season too. Royce Simmons and Keiron Purtill have shown a lot of faith in me and I will always appreciate that.“Finally, my mum and dad are people I will always be truly thankful for. My dad Ian coached me from the age of seven and quite clearly without them I wouldn’t have even been in with a chance of winning this award.”
NATHAN Brown says everyone is striving at the club to get better following the loss to Warrington.There have been some real positive signs in training this week but the proof will be in the action on Friday.Huddersfield Giants are next up for the Saints at Langtree Park.“My view hasn’t changed of the game but we now have to move on and move forward,” he said. “I know the fans here like to win trophies and are used to winning in the Super League era. From last year I know they can handle losing but it is the manner in which we lose. The way we lost wasn’t what we deserved to deliver to the fans.“There are a lot of positive things happening, we’ve had our fair share of things to go against us and the guys have put the club in a good spot.“Ourselves, Leeds and Wigan are within a couple of points of each other and if you look at this point last year then it is a huge improvement. We haven’t had a lot of luck with stability in our team either so if you take all that into account then it isn’t too bad.“But the manner in which we lost at the weekend doesn’t help. It wasn’t where we want to be to get to where we want to be. We have to get better and improve in certain areas against certain teams. The reality is if you want to do something at the end of the year you are going to front Leeds and Wigan coming at you. We need to make sure we are doing the right things to give ourselves the best shot.“Our defence at times looks good – we kept Bradford to nil and they scored a lot of points against Catalan and Bradford – but we aren’t doing it consistently.”Saints will miss Josh Jones, Alex Walmsley and Jonny Lomax this week with short term knocks.“Josh suffered concussion on Sunday so he has to sit out for a week. Alex is out with a hamstring problem whilst Jonny’s injury is a knee. They aren’t disastrous and will be short term. Mark Percival is getting closer to returning too.“It is a big game on Friday and Huddersfield are going well. We need to rebound off a not so good performance. I’m looking forward to seeing how the boys do and if we have learned some lessons from the Wigan and Warrington games.“We have had a positive week but the proof is in the action.”Tickets for Friday’s game remain on sale from the Ticket Office at Langtree Park, by calling 01744 455 052 or by logging on here.
JOB Done! Well half of it anyway as the Saints booked themselves a home Grand Final on Sunday week, courtesy of a 46-6 win over Widnes, writes Graham Henthorne.Always nervy affairs semi-finals and this was no different with both sets containing players well known to each other in both towns.In fact it was the visitors who started the better and it took a fabulous last ditch tackle from Levy Nzounogu and Aaron Smith to hold the loose forward up over the line.But that was virtually as good as it got for the Vikings as the Saints pack turned the screw with some trademark relentless defence which sapped their resolve for the next 35 minutes.Dave Eccleston, who had a superb first half was first on the scoresheet strolling into the corner after quick hands and good attacking play along the line had created the overlap for him.Aaron Smith then went close as he almost managed to haul half the Vikings pack over the line with.An error on the last of the visitors next exit set gave the Saints great field position. Two drives later and Danny Richardson found himself just where he wanted to be, running at a retreating defensive line. The stand-off’s arcing run took him through the line where he approached the fullback but waited for the supporting Ricky Bailey to zoom up alongside. A simple pass and Bailey scooted the last 20 metres to the line.The visitors could see the writing on the wall at this stage but it became twice as big as Bailey increased the lead on the half hour scoring his second.The Vikings’ discipline was costing them dear and from the latest penalty tap restart Josh Eaves jumped down the blindside on half way. He fed Ben Morris who took it on 20 metres before again giving the beleaguered fullback no chance with a measured pass to Bailey storming up; the fullbacks pace allowing him to squeeze through two covering players.The game turned on a foot in touch three minutes into the second period. Regan Grace and Jake Spedding found themselves going for the same centre who managed to get the ball out to his winger but thankfully for the Saints he just stepped in touch.Three tackles later and the ball found its way back to Spedding who made up for the earlier indiscretion by breaking the line before feeding it inside to Morris for a stroll in.From the kick off the pack continued to roll through their opposite numbers but on the last Liam Cooper made a half break down the right and flicked the ball out to Richardson. He committed the retreating line feeding Matty Costello who turned on the afterburners to beat the cover to the corner.The Vikings scored a consolation after the Saints worst back to back attacking and defensive sets but normal service was resumed as Costello scored his second.A speculative grubber from Eccleston knocked on by the Vikings and a penalty for having the ball thrown at him gave the Saints the ball on the Vikings line. From the tap Richardson again fed Costello to go in at the corner.Two tries in the final ten minutes saw the Saints rub salt into the wound.A Widnes knock on in their own half saw Regan Grace score his almost customary try picking up the loose ball and jinking his way past six or seven from 30 metres out.Then a Costello half break down the left gave his centre partner Spedding a walk in for the Saints eighth and last try.It’s hard to single individuals out of a performance like that as all played their part in a great team effort.As I said at the beginning semi-finals are always nervy affairs as no-one remembers who loses them. At least if you get to the Final you get a medal.But don’t you worry Saints fans, the 17 players who pull on the red vee and run out next Sunday at 14:00 are not going to be satisfied with just getting there. Whether they play our nearest and dearest or the Rhinos from across the Pennines they are only going to be satisfied with going through the season unbeaten and in the process picking up the trophy their season’s efforts deserve.Match Summary:Saints:Tries: Dave Eccleston (8), Ricky Bailey (21 & 31), Ben Morris (44), Matty Costello (47 & 59), Regan Grace (70), Jake Spedding (76).Goals: Danny Richardson 7/8.Widnes:Tries: Owen Farnworth (55).Goals: Brad Walker 1/1.Half Time: 18-0Full Time: 46-6Teams:Saints:1. Ricky Bailey; 2. Dave Eccleston, 4. Matty Costello, 3. Jake Spedding, 5. Regan Grace; 6. Danny Richardson, 7. Brad Billsborough; 8. Levy Nzoungou, 9. Aaron Smith, 17. Alex Eckley, 11. Liam Cooper, 12. Ben Morris, 13. Mike Weldon.Subs: 10. Jordan Olmez, 14. Josh Eaves, 15. Evan Bullen, 16. Chris Follin.Widnes:1. Oliver Ashall; 2. Owen Buckley, 3. Keenan Brand, 4. Lloyd Roby, 5. Sam Freeman; 6. Joe Lyons, 7. Josh Houghton; 8. Jack Armstrong, 9. Danny Walker, 10. Owen Farnworth, 11. Jack Houghton, 12. Liam Walsh, 13. Brad Walker.Subs: 14. Chris Wilson, 15. James Rutledge, 16. Pat McCarroll, 17. Connor Cutts.