Millward stung by McNally's Wildcat strike

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Wakefield's coach, Shane McNally, revealed the secret behind his side's shock Friday- night victory over St Helens - he wrapped his players up in cotton wool in the lead-up to the game.

The Wildcats have been involved in some bruising encounters in the Tetley's Super League recently, and McNally adopted a softly-softly approach for the visit of Ian Millward's Challenge Cup winners - and saw his men come up trumps with a marvellous and thoroughly deserved 41-22 victory.

McNally said: "We have been pretty light on them this week - we only trained on Wednesday and Thursday. The guys have been putting in some really big efforts recently - against Salford, even though we won, it was really tough, Hull and Wigan - and it paid dividends for us. We talked about two things: go forward and enthusiasm. We certainly had go forward, and bags of enthusiasm as well."

Ben Jeffries, with two tries, and the man of the match David March led the way for the Wildcats, although McNally was quick to stress it had been a real team effort. He added: "The whole 17 played well. I was particularly pleased with some of our young kids as well. They really showed they are Super League standard. All credit to the guys, they were sensational. Saints started at a rate of knots but, once we got to the pace of the game, we dominated.

"It was one of the most satisfying performances since I have been here. I thought we have been really close at times this season - last week at Wigan we dominated the second half - but this was just sensational."

The Saints' coach was quick to hold his hands up afterwards and admit that his men had been completely outplayed. Great Britain star Keiron Cunningham had joined the suspended Sean Long and Martin Gleeson on the sidelines and, although captain Paul Sculthorpe led from the front once again, the visitors were comprehensively beaten. Millward said: "Wakefield deserved to win. They have been playing really well recently, and were a bit more clinical than us. They finished off things better.

"Losing Chris Joynt did not help, but it did not cost us the game. I would just sooner give a lot of positives to Wakefield than make excuses. They played really well. We had a couple of chances through Darren Albert, and maybe a couple of tries could have made a difference. We are normally great at taking chances, but we didn't do that and they did. The opposition were stronger than us."

The defeat leaves Saints with more ground to make up on league leaders Leeds Rhinos, although Millward is not too concerned at this stage of the season. He said: "No one in our position looks at the top of the table. I am more bothered with how we are playing, and I have been really pleased with us this season.

"But we have to give credit to Wakefield. They were stronger than us on the day."

Cunningham's absence had given a chance to young James Roby, and Millward was pleased with the way he acquitted himself on the field.

He added: "I thought young Roby played really well. We put him on at half-time to regenerate us, and it shows we have some great young players coming through."

Millward also confirmed that young forward Tim Jonkers had been allowed to join struggling Salford Reds on a month's loan as he looks to regain full fitness after injury.

He said: "Timmy's gone to Salford on loan. He is coming back from a knee injury and we just want him back as soon as possible. This will give him some game-time."