SAINTS slumped to their fourth defeat in a row with a 12-8 loss at Bradford Bulls.
Two moments of indecision were punished to leave them without a win in five matches for the first time since 1988/89.
Kicks on either side of half time saw Elliot Whitehead and Karl Pryce score but it was once again the lack of attack and ill-discipline that cost the Saints.
Paul Wellens could feel proud with his effort though as he was outstanding for his hometown club.
Saints were down 8-4 at half time as controversy reigned in an otherwise dour encounter.
Bradford could probably feel aggrieved that a forward pass wasn’t spotted in the build-up to Andy Dixon’s try… but Saints could equally be as angry as after Elliot Whitehead’s try the referee awarded the Bulls a penalty.
Jamie Foster was deemed to have kicked the scorer in the face, when he was clearly going for a loose ball.
If the young winger thought he was unluckily penalised for that incident, he’d want the kick he left to pounce in the second half back over and over again.
Karl Pryce profited from the mistake to increase the lead and on 55 minutes Foster’s night got worse when he was sinbinned for persistent interference.
An ill-tempered match then almost boiled over when Gaskell was felled late by Oliver Elima – the referee placing the incident on report.
But by the time Francis Meli scored a fine length of the field effort on the hooter his side were dead and buried.
Saints began the game on the front foot after taking advantage of the typical conditions at Odsal.
The rain was lashing down as they made good progress into Bradford’s 20 on the back of a penalty, but Lee Gaskell just couldn’t find the kick to unlock the Bulls defence.
He looked sharp alongside new half-back partner Gary Wheeler, who came into the side in place of the injured Jonny Lomax.
On seven minutes Foster had a dink through but Jason Crookes was up to the task.
Five minutes later Andy Dixon was penalised for being a little too enthusiastic in the tackle and Bradford forced a drop out.
A high kick by Ben Jeffries then had Foster scurrying to pop the ball behind for another drop out.
And after another repeat set, their fourth in a row, John Bateman bulldozed over the line but a wonderful tackle from Paul Wellens and a double movement relieved the pressure.
After soaking up all that heat, Saints hit the lead. A great pass from Lance Hohaia that could possibly have been a tad forward saw Jon Wilkin breaking through.
He had Wellens on his inside and the full back showed great pace to get within metres. The Bulls were scrambling though but when the ball came right it was too easy for Dixon’s fourth of the year.
Foster uncharacteristically screwing his conversion to the left of the sticks.
With the conditions forcing the game to be played up the middle, both sides couldn’t get a foothold in the match.
Saints had the best of it but an innocuous kick over from Ben Jeffries, hacked on by Karl Pryce, saw Elliot Whitehead put down.
Paul Sykes added the two points and was awarded another two straight away because Jamie Foster had been penalised for trying to kick the ball away from Whitehead just as he touched down.
That gave Bradford an 8-4 half time lead and within two minutes of the restart their lead had been stretched.
A very very tame kick was left by Foster and Karl Pryce thought it was Christmas, picked up the ball and went in.
Sykes missed the kick but Saints were feeling sorry for themselves and their next few sets were at sixes and sevens.
Foster was sinbinned for persistent interference on 55 minutes and Elima should have followed moments later when he smashed Lee Gaskell after the ball had gone.
With the winger off the field Saints didn’t fare much better and ill-discipline was forcing them further and further into their own half.
Wellens, who was Saints’ best player on the night, performed a wonder tackle on Jeffries to keep the score at 12-4, and he then provided a fine pass for Tony Puletua.
All the big man had to do was drag it in but it went to ground in Saints’ panic to score.
Saints did force a drop out with ten to go but once again the kicking options were poor.
Francis Meli did complete a full length of the field effort in the final minute but by the end of the game Saints looked out of sorts, confidence and luck and Bradford had done more than enough to win their first match at home this year.
Tries: Whitehead, Pryce
Goals: Sykes (2 from 3)
Tries: Dixon, Meli
Goals: Foster (0 from 2)
REF: Richard Silverwood
1. Brett Kearney; 33. Karl Pryce, 2. Adrian Purtell, 3. Keith Lulia, 24. Jason Crookes; 28. Paul Sykes, 6. Ben Jeffries; 16. Manese Manuokafoa, 14. Matt Diskin, 15. Bryn Hargreaves, 12. Elliot Whitehead, 4. Chev Walker, 26. John Bateman.
Subs: 9. Heath L’Estrange, 11. Oliver Elima, 21. Tom Burgess, 23. Danny Addy.
1. Paul Wellens; 21. Tom Makinson, 3. Michael Shenton, 5. Francis Meli, 22. Jamie Foster; 20. Lee Gaskell, 17. Gary Wheeler; 14. Anthony Laffranchi, 6. Lance Hohaia, 11. Tony Puletua, 12. Jon Wilkin, 19. Andrew Dixon, 16. Paul Clough.
Subs: 8. Josh Perry, 13. Chris Flannery, 15. Mark Flanagan, 24. Nathan Ashe.