The extraordinary Super League record St Helens stand on the brink of breaking

Aaron Bower
St Helens

St Helens celebrate a try against Hull FC

It has been far from a perfect start to the new season for St Helens – but they stand on the brink of a Super League record on Thursday evening against Huddersfield Giants.

In patches, Paul Wellens’ side have been brilliant: think the derby victory against Wigan Warriors, or the commanding victories against other sides.

But there have been some setbacks, perhaps epitomised by the underwhelming Challenge Cup defeat at the hands of Warrington Wolves earlier this month. Questions are being asked of the fluency of their attack, too.

But one thing you cannot criticise is the Saints’ defensive efforts so far in 2024. We’ve covered in great depth already this year how they’ve ranked among the very best sides in Super League history when it comes to points against.

However, on Thursday night, they have the chance to create genuine history. In their opening eight league games they have conceded just 58 points – over 30 fewer than the next best defensive sides in Catalans Dragons and Wigan Warriors.

And now, having been in and around the best defensive sides to start a Super League season, the Saints can become the outright best on Thursday evening. And the irony is that Wellens’ St Helens can overtake a group coached by the man he was assistant to at the Totally Wicked Stadium: Kristian Woolf.

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Woolf’s Saints shipped just 66 points in their opening nine games in the 2022 season, which means that if the Saints concede seven or fewer against the Giants, they will stand as the best in Super League history at this stage of a season: a remarkable feat.

Bradford Bulls‘ 2000 side currently hold the second-best for fewest points conceded after nine games, with just 67 against their name nearly a quarter of a century ago, only a point more than Kristian Woolf’s Saints side from two years ago.

The third-best side? That’s also Woolf’s St Helens, who conceded 76 in their opening nine league games in 2021.

It will be a tough ask against a Huddersfield side in exceptional form, of that there is no question. But for all the questions of their attack so far in 2024, their defence is on the brink of being regarded as one of the best in the modern era – and the importance of it isn’t lost on Wellens.

“Who you are shows up first and foremost in defence,” he said. “That’s where people talk about willingness to work, and that’s through the way you want to defend for each other. I’m super proud of that area: that’s something we take great pride in.”

Only seven teams in Super League history have conceded 100 points or fewer in their opening nine games of a season. Barring a disaster on Thursday evening, St Helens’ class of 2024 will join that bracket.

Super League sides to concede 100 or fewer in first nine games

  • St Helens 2022: 66 points
  • Bradford Bulls 2000: 67 points
  • St Helens 2021: 76 points
  • Leeds Rhinos 2014: 78 points
  • Wigan Warriors 1998: 82 points
  • St Helens 2006: 86 points
  • Leeds Rhinos 2008: 90 points

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