Super League: Nathan Brown confident St Helens will improve after loss to Leeds
Last Updated: 02/03/13 7:36am
Nathan Brown: Saw Gary Wheeler become the latest name to be added to Saints' casualty list
St Helens coach Nathan Brown refused to be too downcast after seeing his injury-hit side go down 20-12 to Leeds at Langtree Park.
The Rhinos recorded their first away win over Saints since 2008, recovering from an early 4-0 deficit thanks to a brace of tries from Ryan Hall and a rare score for veteran prop Kylie Leuluai.
"It's going to get a lot better, I'm very confident of that. After our first game, we've got a lot better each week and there were periods today when we did pretty well against the best team in the comp."
Captain Kevin Sinfield kicked two conversions and a pair of penalties, though the England international did miss one shot at goal in the first half to end his perfect run at 41 attempts.
Teenager Mark Percival capped an excellent debut for Saints by carving out two late tries for Francis Meli and although it wasn't quite enough in the final reckoning, Brown saw plenty of positives on a night when Gary Wheeler became the latest name to be added to Saints' lengthy casualty list.
"We had four young kids out there who had eight or nine games between them and they handled themselves well," the former Huddersfield boss, who is yet to see his new side win at home this season, said.
"We also had a new half-back and full-back and we lost our five-eighth to injury.
"It's going to get a lot better, I'm very confident of that. After our first game, we've got a lot better each week and there were periods today when we did pretty well against the best team in the comp.
"We got beat by a good side tonight but we scored three tries apiece so weren't a long way away. I thought the better side won the game but the young guys got a bit more experience."
Opposite number Brian McDermott praised his players for their physical and mental efforts off the back of a tough loss to Melbourne Storm in the World Club Challenge.
"We had a fair amount of adversity with the motorway being shut," he said. "We only got the right kit on five minutes before the kick-off.
"On the back of last week, when we put a lot of energy - emotionally and physically - into the Melbourne game. The question was always going to be whether we could get up again but we did and it was very pleasing.
"In fairness, Saints had one or two fellas missing but it was always going to come down to how much energy we had in that game and it shows some character there."