If there was ever a time for a young set of players to come of age it was in Catalans on Saturday night.
11 of the 17 came through the Academy, Aaron Smith made his debut and with the likes of Ben Barba and James Roby out, they all needed to stand up strong to secure a result.
And that’s exactly what they did as Morgan Knowles sidestepped his way over with two minutes remaining to all but hand Saints the League Leaders’ Shield.
Justin Holbrook’s side had to come from behind twice to seal a victory that was based on never giving up.
Catalans led 10-0 after 15 minutes but Mark Percival crossed for his 22nd of the season to get Saints on the hunt.
Percival and Kenny Edwards both had efforts chalked off shortly afterwards before Josh Drinkwater tagged on a penalty in the 27th minute to stretch Catalans lead.
Saints didn’t hang around though and Theo Fages produced a sensational run from a loose ball to go under the posts.
Aaron Smith made his Saints bow on the half hour mark – and was instantly involved after he was felled late by Sam Moa.
That incident saw the Catalan prop sinbinned and Richardson duly added the penalty in front of the sticks to make it 14-12.
After weathering the pressure, Saints suddenly had their tails up and looked to have increased their lead when Matty Lees bulldozed over from 10 metres out.
But his effort was unluckily called back for a double movement even though his momentum seemed to have carried him over.
Saints were 14-12 in front at the break but within five minutes of the second half, Iain Thornley had crossed in the corner to give the lead back to the hosts.
Edwards then increased the lead in the 54th minute.
Somehow, Saints hung on in there though and with 10 to go, Mark Percival scooted off down the left hand, sucked in the defence and found Jonny Lomax who put down.
Richardson kicked the conversion – and then Morgan Knowles made his timely intervention.
Fages supplied the pass but there was no stopping the hooker on his way to the line.
Richardson tagged on the extras to take the lead out to 26-22 – and after Saints defended the short kick off, the fans who had made the journey over to France could finally breathe a sigh of relief.
Justin Holbrook was happy as Saints edged closer to the League Leaders’ Shield with a 26-22 win over Catalans in Perpignan.
“We knew it was going to be tough and it was so we’re happy to get the win,” he said. “We had a couple of players not play so we needed the likes of Jonny Lomax, Tommy Makinson and Jon Wilkin to stand up as experienced players. I thought they did a good job.
“We were behind early and I thought we fought back well to dominate the second half of the first half and were unlucky not to lead by a lot more.
“The second panned out the same as the first and we had to show a lot of character. To get up early in the morning and fly, then perform like that, it’s fantastic.”
Both James Roby and Ben Barba missed the game but should be ok for the run in.
“They just had niggling injuries and we’ve got to get them right by the end of the year,” Holbrook added. “It gave us an opportunity to give them a rest.”
Tries: Mead, Casty, Thornley, Edwards,
Goals: Drinkwater (3 from 5)
Tries: Percival, Fages, Lomax, Knowles
Goals: Richardson (5 from 5)
REF: Liam Moore
31. Tony Gigot; 20. Lewis Tierney, 1. David Mead, 4. Brayden Wiliame, 3. Iain Thornley; 6. Samisoni Langi, 33. Josh Drinkwater; 15. Mikael Simon, 19. Michael McIlorum, 10. Sam Moa, 34. Kenny Edwards, 13. Greg Bird, 8. Rémi Casty.
Subs: 14. Julian Bousquet, 17. Jason Baitieri, 24. Alrix Da Costa, 32. Mickael Goudemand.
1. Jonny Lomax; 2. Tommy Makinson, 30. Matty Costello, 4. Mark Percival, 19. Regan Grace; 6. Theo Fages, 18. Danny Richardson; 16. Luke Thompson, 15. Morgan Knowles, 10. Kyle Amor, 13. Louie McCarthy-Scarsbrook, 11. Zeb Taia, 12. Jon Wilkin.
Subs: 14. Luke Douglas, 20. Matty Lees, 21. Jack Ashworth, 25. Aaron Smith.
Saints return to the Totally Wicked Stadium this Friday when they host Hull FC. Kick off is 7:45pm and tickets are on sale from the Ticket Office, by calling 01744 455058 or online here.