A LAST gasp drop goal from Paul Sykes saw Saints lose 33-32 at Wakefield.
Although Francis Meli grabbed a hat-trick it was the home side’s composure in the final few minutes that handed them a big two points.
Two drop goal efforts went awry, but when Saints lost the ball in their own 40 in the last minute Sykes did the rest.
Before that the match was not one for the feint-hearted nor the defensive coaches from either side,
A pulsating start saw Tony Puletua fire Saints into a four point lead after just 27 seconds before Wakefield turned the match on its head.
Lee Smith and Andy Raleigh sandwiched a sole Francis Meli try before Danny Kirmond added a brace.
But Saints hit back at the death as Jonny Lomax conspired to put Paul Wellens in for his 19th of the season.
Meli tagged on his second 10 minutes into the second half before Wellens did the same.
But Lee Smith levelled up matters immediately to leave the game on a knife-edge with less than 16 to go.
Kyle Amor nudged the game the home side’s way as the game entered its final stages, before Meli grabbed his hat-trick.
But Saints let Wakefield have too much ball in their final third and it was no surprise when the drop goal went over.
Saints were depleted heading into the match but as Mike Rush said, if the club is relying on injured players to turn round a performance then Saints have problems.
Mark Flanagan came in for only his fifth start of the season but Sia Soliola and Jon Wilkin were both out. Lee Gaskell returned to the bench.
Despite those enforced changes Saints couldn’t have asked for a better start.
After just 27 seconds the ball was fed to Francis Meli and the big man went 70 yards, through a couple of tacklers and offloaded to Tony Puletua who made no mistake.
But Wakefield hit back almost immediately as a dropout was forced and then bettered by Lee Smith.
Paul Sykes’ conversion hitting the post and then sneaking over.
Then on 14 minutes the home side took the lead – and although fortuitous it was nothing more than they deserved.
Tim Smith ran the ball on the last, reversed a neat chip and Andy Raleigh cleaned up after a couple of bounces. Sykes making it 12-4.
Saints hit back three minutes later through Meli – his 15th of the season – as he gathered Lomax’ perfect kick.
But poor discipline was once again letting the visitors down and Danny Kirmond profited on 29 minutes to extend the advantage.
Less than a minute later it got worse as Kirmond popped up for his second after a massive charge down the middle.
But with less than six minutes to go Lomax pulled Saints with touching distance with another inside ball to Paul Wellens on his shoulder.
Tommy Makinson kicking his first of the afternoon to cut the deficit to eight at half time.
That gap almost got wider early in the second half as a high ball was dropped giving the Wildcats a set right on Saints’ line. The defence held firm.
Saints then got right back into the match. Jonny Lomax pushed it on the last and fed Andy Dixon who made a superb break.
His looping pass found Meli and with everyone stopping expecting a forward pass the winger coolly put down.
Makinson tagging on the extras from the touchline.
And with 20 minutes to go Saints regained the lead. Jonny Lomax switched the ball to Lee Gaskell who produced a wonderful drop off ball for Wellens’ second of the afternoon.
Makinson converted but within seconds Lee Smith had levelled it up from a superb Ali Lauitiiti pass.
Kyle Amor drifted through some tired defence with 11 left but not before Meli bagged his hat-trick after an amazing passing sequence involving Lomax, Wellens and Chris Flannery.
But, as has been the case over several matches this season, a penalty handed Wakefield the impetus and with great field position Sykes just screwed his drop goal effort to the right.
Saints were too far out though to try an effort on their own and after losing the ball in their own 40 they were thankful for Tim Smith’s skewed effort.
But the home side made no mistake with 16 seconds to go. Gaskell forced out a ball for no reason and Paul Sykes duly slotted over the one-pointer.
It was heart-breaking for the Saints who gave it their all but they lost their shape in the final stages and were made to pay.
Tries: Smith L (2), Raleigh, Kirmond (2), Amor
Goals: Sykes (4 from 6)
Drop Goal: Sykes
Tries: Puletua, Meli (3), Wellens (2)
Goals: Makinson (4 from 6)
REF: Thierry Alibert
1. Richard Mathers; 2. Peter Fox, 27. Danny Cowling, 35. Lee Smith, 5. Ben Cockayne; 34. Paul Sykes, 20. Tim Smith; 15. Kyle Amor, 9. Andy Ellis, 10. Andy Raleigh, 11. Ali Lauitiiti, 17. Danny Kirmond, 13. Danny Washbrook.
Subs: 7. Kyle Wood, 8. Oliver Wilkes, 16. Paul Johnson, 19. Frankie Mariano.
1. Paul Wellens; 21. Tommy Makinson, 3. Michael Shenton, 26. Josh Jones, 5. Francis Meli; 6. Lance Hohaia, 7. Jonny Lomax; 8. Josh Perry, 9. James Roby, 14. Anthony Laffranchi, 11. Tony Puletua, 13. Chris Flannery, 15. Mark Flanagan.
Subs: 10. Louie McCarthy-Scarsbrook, 16. Paul Clough, 19. Andy Dixon, 20. Lee Gaskell.