- Match Centre
SAINTS almost produced a stunning comeback but eventually went down 22-12 to Catalan Dragons in a classic at Langtree Park.
With seconds left and just four points behind they nearly pulled off the incredible and snook in at the corner.
But the final pass didn't stick and the Dragons held on.
In truth, the visitors were the better side and did the bulk of their damage in the first half.
Saints showed flashes but were down 12-0 at half time.
Inexperience showed on a number of occasions and the Dragons took full advantage scoring two well-crafted tries.
In the second, Saints scored a flyer through Sia Soliola before Thomas Bosc hammered home two penalties.
Alex Walmsley then set up a barnstorming finish with a rampaging try four minutes from time.
But with the ball flying from side to side the final pass just went to ground and Catalan wrapped up the match.
It was heartbreaking for a youthful Saints' side who were down on numbers but displayed enough heart.
The home side were missing James Roby, Tony Puletua, Mark Flanagan, Jonny Lomax, Josh Perry, Willie Manu, Ade Gardner and Anthony Walker so could only bring Lance Hohaia in at six for Paul Wellens who moved to his new position of 13.
With Flanagan injured, James Tilley was named on the bench for only his second appearance in the Red V.
Catalan welcomed back a number of first team stars including Thomas Bosc.
Saints made a positive start when Lance Hohaia chipped for Francis Meli to chase - but the winger was just caught short of the line and his pass went into touch.
Makinson took a high Leon Pryce kick and then the home side forced a drop out.
Nothing came of that and Saints breathed a sigh of relief when they defended two sets right on their own line.
On 21 minutes Saints were penalised for stripping but Thomas Bosc missed the penalty attempt.
But five minutes later Frederic Vaccari found space on the outside and put his side ahead.
Bosc converting from the touchline.
Catalans thought they were in with five minutes to go but the referee ruled Casty had his hand in at the tackle
But when Mark Percival went into touch the second time, Morgan Escarē latched on to Damien Blanch's pass.
Bosc with the conversion to make it 12-0 at half time.
Saints needed a big start to their second half - and they got it with Nathan Brown's side going full length of the field in a set.
After a number of strong drives Sia Soliola linked up with Wilkin and got the return pass in a move that went 60 yards.
Seconds later Saints almost got on terms - pushing the pass but running out of tackles with feet remaining.
Bosc made it an eight-point game on 55 minutes and it could have been worse if Leon Pryce would have opted to pass instead of trying to go it alone.
Bosc tallied another two-pointer on the half hour mark to make it 16-6 to the visitors.
Mickael Simon was sinbinned when he lay all over Tommy Makinson with 13 minutes to go - and Saints prodded and probed for the vital score.
Saints were inches short after Walmsley ran onto the ball with pace on 72 minutes and then Jordan Turner's ball went to ground a minute later.
Walmsley gave them hope with four minutes to go and then a dramatic piece of play almost saw Saints snatch it. The ball was forced left and then right but Swift just couldn't take the pass in.
And then Pryce took the ball, went full 80 metres and a couple of tackles later Henderson closed it up.
Tries: Soliola, Walmsley
Goals: Percival (2 from 2)
Tries: Vaccari, Escarē, Henderson
Goals: Bosc (4 from 6)
REF: Phil Bentham
21. Tom Makinson; 26. Adam Swift, 30. Mark Percival, 3. Jordan Turner, 5. Francis Meli; 6. Lance Hohaia, 12. Jon Wilkin; 14. Anthony Laffranchi, 36. Stuart Howarth, 10. Louie McCarthy-Scarsbrook, 4. Sia Soliola, 19. Josh Jones, 1. Paul Wellens.
Subs: 16. Paul Clough, 24. Joe Greenwood, 25. Alex Walmsley, 32. James Tilley.
28. Morgan Escarē; 2. Damien Blanch, 11. Steve Menzies, 18. Daryl Millard, 26. Frederic Vaccari; 3. Leon Pryce, 6. Thomas Bosc; 10. Rēmi Casty, 9. Ian Henderson, 20. Mickael Simon, 4. Zeb Taia, 12. Louis Anderson, 24. Jason Baitieri.
Subs: 13. Gregory Mounis, 16. Eloi Pelissier, 22. Jamel Fakir, 23. Lopini Paea.