SAINTS were battered, bruised and had players banged up but came within a whisker of beating Wigan to reach their first Challenge Cup Final since 2008.
They were edged 18-12 despite producing a stirring second half comeback when 18-2 down to almost pull off the impossible.
Although bitterly disappointed, Royce Simmons praised his charges afterwards and said their character shone through.
“I thought we were very courageous,” he said. “The blokes showed a lot of character. We went into the game with a fair few blokes carrying a lot of bumps and bruises. At our first training session we had eight who couldn’t train, then for the second one we had four.
“We put a side together the day before but we still had a couple of senior players carrying severe injuries into the game. It all adds up doesn’t it?
“At the end of the day we had a fair bit of possession but we tended to get excited and went from sideline to sideline.
“We are a better side when we play direct. James Roby was chasing the ball all over the park and that isn’t good. We needed to punch forward and then go to the edges.
“It would have been good to get across the line to say we have played some good field position, controlled it well and it would have been good to get a reward, but their defence was too good.”
He continued: “In the second half we didn’t have as much ball but I thought Brett Finch was pretty good in his performance in putting on the pressure and getting the results he wanted.
“It’s disappointing but every time there was a decision to be made hands went in the air. There were a couple of things around their third try and hands were waved everywhere and the referee hadn’t even made the decision.
“Finchy kept doing that for the whole half and got the result.
“We were courageous but at the end of the day Wigan have won and it just wasn’t enough. It’s unfortunate but we put up our dukes and fight again. We have Huddersfield on Friday and then the lads will get a short break to recharge the batteries mentally and physically after that.
“I am very proud of the boys today.”
Saints are next up on Friday August 12 (8pm) when Huddersfield Giants come to town for Super League action.
Kicking off at 8pm, tickets are now on sale from the Club Shop in St Helens Town Centre, by calling 01744 455 052 or by logging on to www.saintssuperstore.com