Tony Smith praised his side’s effort and spirit levels in their final outing of the season on Friday night, ultimately going down 30-12 to the Saints.
A debut try from Lewis Martin was the stand-out moment for the Black & Whites at the Totally Wicked Stadium, in a match in which they remained in the contest until the closing stages after a late flurry form the hosts.
Speaking in his post-match press conference, Smith said: “The effort was good. Yes, we did lose, and we deserved to lose, but our game is all about effort. You can’t always win and sometimes the other team is better than you but as long as you have a dig for each other and the badge and the club that you represent, that’s all you can ask for.
“I was pleased and proud of the way that my boys went about their business tonight. It wasn’t quite at St Helens’ level, they’re a good team and if you make an error or two, then they are going to punish you.
“If there wasn’t enough spirit about us and there wasn’t enough grit about us, then that could have been a really big score. We tried hard to compete. We were in touch for a while and we could have got even closer if we executed some things a little bit better. That didn’t happen, but we didn’t throw the towel in just the same.”
He added: “I’m not one of these people that say if you’ve not got no chance of finals then you’ve got nothing to play for. You’ve got plenty to play for. There’s personal pride and team pride.
“Rugby League just isn’t about trying hard if you can win something. If you don’t go out there and try hard, then you get well-pipped. We didn’t tonight. We were very spirited.”
Picking out some of his stand-out performers, Smith continued: “A couple of people led the way there and I’ll make mention of them. Chris Satae who is leaving, he’s had a big week for us and he’s had a big year for us really. He’s played his best rugby league for the club and he’s been enormous for us in leadership and the way he plays.
“Scott Taylor too. It’s his last ever game of rugby league and I think he’s worthy of a mention as well. He’s put in for the club that he loves and he’s tried really hard. Those two led the way for some young guys to make their debuts.”
On the debuts of Academy products Zach Jebson and Lewis Martin, the latter who scored a superb breakaway try, Smith said: “Lewis is raw and he’s late to rugby league. He’s a former footballer player and it was well into his teens before he even started to play our sport.
“But he’s big and he’s brave and he’s fast. They’re pretty good ingredients for our sport. He took them on. He’s got enough speed to do it. He’s still learning the game but he’s given everything and he enjoys it. I think he’s one of many players we’d like to see come through over the next couple of years.
“And I thought Jack was very brave and he carried strong and made some good tackles. One of his first tackles was on Alex Walmsley. That made a difference. He was good for us. There were some young boys out there who will remember that for a while.
“They’ve got to get a taste of it. The taste of it is defeat and we’re not saying we’re satisfied with our season by a long shot. We’ve got to take lessons from this season and some of those words we’ve just talked about, but if the effort is like that each and every week, then we’ll be okay.”
Smith also provided injury updates on Cam Scott and Will Gardiner, both of whom left the field during the match.
“Cam did his hamstring on that long run for his try. The weather probably contributed to that and the ground as well. That was a sodden ground there tonight, very soft, and hard to play on. I can’t tell you to what extent he has done his hamstring but he certainly felt something go.”
“Will lost his footing and slipped going into contact. He copped it. Will is conscious and walking around there in the dressing room aware of what is going on. He can’t remember too much about the game but he’ll be fine. He will be under close supervision for the remainder of the evening.”