After the triumph and joy of last year's much awaited Grand Final success in the Super League, it was back to the start again for St Helens last night at Langtree Park, as they took on the French side Catalans Dragons. It turned out to be a bruising encounter, but ultimately proved to be a first victory for Saints' new head coach Keiron Cunningham.

They required all of their skills and resilience to overcome a tough Catalans' in their opening fixture, with the visitors having their noses in front going into the interval, with a slender 7-6 advantage.

The away side were clearly keen to avenge a thrashing against the same opposition last time out, when they lost in the play-off semi-finals. Saints had opened their try account for the season through a converted Atelea Vea effort, but were more than matched on the scoreboard in the first-half by Eloi Pelissier's try in response (also converted), added to Thomas Bosc's opportune drop-goal just before the turnaround. Catalans were also unlucky to see a Zeb Taia try ruled out.

Trailing 7-6 going into the second period, Saints upped the ante after the break to score 12 unanswered points through tries from Jordan Turner, Andre Savelio and Tommy Makinson. The winning margin would have been greater but for all of the conversion attempts being missed.

That was enough though to ensure a winning start in their search for back to back titles.

The new man in charge at the Saints has taken over the reins of the club this year from Nathan Brown, having retired from his distinguished playing career back in 2010. Brown took the slightly unusual step of stepping down after his side had become champions, due to family reasons which made him decide to return home to Australia.

The games come thick and fast at this time of year and Saints will be back in action next Thursday at the Salford Red Devils, a side who have recruited extensively and will be interesting opponents. They also have an eagerly anticipated match against the southern hemisphere's South Sydney Rabbitohs to look forward to on 22nd February, in the now traditional World Club Challenge match. It is the first time that the club have featured in the north versus south hemisphere clash since 2007. The match will take place on their home ground, so Saints will be hoping for success to give them an early boost for the long and arduous campaign ahead.