Saints may not yet be suffering from a crisis of confidence after two defeats in less than a week but they need to get the ship back on an even keel sooner rather than later and that won’t be an easy task judging by the next couple of fixtures on the horizon.
The current Super 8s table-toppers travel to Wakefield Trinity on Thursday night and don’t need me to remind them that on their last visit to Belle Vue they went down 24-20 and then on the last day of the month entertain Wigan Warriors in what is nearly always an unpredictable derby.
Any scenario is possible and the same could be said about what lies further down the track - home games against Hull FC and Castleford Tigers and trips to Catalans Dragons and Warrington Wolves.
But Justin Holbrook’s side need to rise above the mediocrity they produced in both the 35-16 Ladbrokes Challenge Cup semi-final defeat against the Dragons and Friday’s 16-12 setback at the hands of Huddersfield Giants to convince their fans that back-to-back losses for the first time this season are just a blip in form and that they will go into the play-offs with a confident-boosting string of wins under their belt.
It is hard to explain why a team riding on the crest of a wave and producing some scintillating rugby can suddenly become so vulnerable, look all at sea defensively, guilty of taking far too many wrong options and makinge more handling errors than normal at crucial times, but it is a conundrum Holbrook and his coaching team will have to solve.
The wheels haven’t exactly fallen off the bus and while the seeds of doubt may be at the back of some players’ minds, there is enough quality and experience in the ranks to remedy the situation.
At the same time some may argue that rivals have belatedly in the season sussed out Saints’ style of play which revolves around slick and speedy handling and pace on the flanks.
Huddersfield found the antedote on Friday - slowing down the game at every opportunity when under threat and on occasions ensuring a so-called injured player milked the attention of the trainer more than was really necessary.
Frustrating tactics but they paid handsome dividends and left Holbrook admitting that the better team won on the night.
He also felt Saints had a lot of mentally and tired boys on the park as a result of their shock Challenge Cup loss five days earlier and suffered the consequences.
The Aussie boss went on: “The cup defeat was always going to knock us around a bit and it took a few days to get over it, as well as clear our heads.
“We came with the right intentions but unfortunately we made a slow start and were soon 16-0 down.”
He added: “The effort was there, we could have won, but our performance wasn’t good enough. We’ll just have to keep working hard and bounce back at Wakefield.”
Saints - tries: Barba (35 mins), Thompson (58).
Goals: Richardson (36 and 59).
Giants - tries: McIntosh (4 and 21), Mellor (10).
Goals: Brough (5 and 11).
Referee: Scott Mikalauskas.(Leigh).
Teams - Saints: 23. Ben Barba; 2. Tommy Makinson, 30. Matty Costello, 4. Mark Percival, 5. Adam Swift; 1. Jonny Lomax, 18. Danny Richardson; 10. Kyle Amor, 9. James Roby, 16. Luke Thompson, 15. Morgan Knowles, 11. Zeb Taia, 12. Jon Wilkin. Subs: 6. Theo Fages, 13. Louie McCarthy-Scarsbrook, 14. Luke Douglas, 20. Matty Lees.
Giants:15. Jordan Rankin; 2. Jermaine McGillvary, 3. Leroy Cudjoe, 4. Jordan Turner, 23. Darnell McIntosh; 6. Lee Gaskell, 7. Danny Brough; 35. Suaia Matagi, 21. Adam O’Brien, 17. Ukuma Ta’ai, 22. Alex Mellor, 16. Oliver Roberts, 14. Dale Ferguson. Subs: 13. Ryan Hinchcliffe, 18. Paul Clough, 25. Corlton Roche, 27. Matty English.