Saints coach Keiron Cunningham could not hide his frustration after the 30-12 defeat by Catalans Dragons on Thursday night.
The Saints were a shadow of the team that won at Warrington a week ago as they slipped to their third successive defeat at Langtree Park.
A week after nilling Hull KR, the Dragons had kept their tryline intact for over two hours by the time Frenchman Theo Fages scored Saints’ opening try.
Luke Walsh also touched down as the home side clawed their way back to 14-12 at half-time but the Catalans scored three unanswered tries in the second half to clinch a sixth successive win and a fifth in a row away from home.
“We looked really tired,” Cunningham said. “To protect the players, I’ll give them the benefit of the doubt on that.
“We haven’t had the luxury of rolling people, we’ve had to run with the same squad for a number of weeks and going from Easter into the big game last week hurt us a lot more than it should have.
“We gave ourselves a chance to get back in the game but we just looked so flat across the board.
“We were that gassed, we actually looked like a side that wasn’t coached, we looked like an under-16 side running around just chucking the ball anywhere.
“We went away from all our structures which we’d worked so hard on. I thought we were going in the right direction and that’s what frustrates you as a coach. It’s disappointing for me and the fans.
“I’m not sure what the answer is, we freshen the players up but as soon as they cross the threshold all we can do is put our faith in them.
“There were some harsh lessons for everybody and a few won’t be playing next week.”
The Dragons are Super League’s top scorers but coach Laurent Frayssinous sang the praises of their defence as they drew level with leaders Warrington.
“We were very good, especially in defence,” Frayssinous said. “Everybody knows that at the end of the season, defence will be the key.
“In the past Catalans have not been recognised as a defensive team but now we are tough defensively. I am never worried about the ability of my side to score tries, we need to keep building with our defence.”
Frayssinous’ men were boosted by the return from injury of stand-off Todd Carney, who pulled the strings and sent winger Jodie Broughton over for two of his four tries.
The former Huddersfield player, one of only two Englishmen in the side, now has 11 tries in just nine appearances and also earned plaudits from his coach.
“Jodie has been been terrific,” Frayssinous said. “He wants to improve and works hard every day at training. It was a good result for his performance, I’m really pleased for Jodie.”
The Dragons’ latest impressive show on the road emphasised their Grand Final potential but Frayssinous is not getting carried away by their lofty league position.
“I’m not worried about that,” he said. “We want to be a better team in 10 days against Salford. If we start being happy about where we are, that’s when we start to drop.”