FRANCIS Meli saw red as Saints bowed out of the Tetley’s Challenge Cup at Hull KR.
The winger was sent off for a high tackle on Craig Hall late in the first half.
But Nathan Brown’s side almost upset the odds in a spirited and brave fightback.
The Robins led 16-6 at half time as Hall profited twice from errors.
But tries from Paul Wellens and Mark Percival saw Saints take the advantage with just over half an hour remaining.
Greg Eden wrestled the lead back for the home side yet they couldn’t shake off the depleted visitors who refused to lie down.
As time ticked down though, Liam Salter latched on to Michael Dobson’s kick for the killer blow.
Saints welcomed Ade Gardner and Tony Puletua back into the starting line up with Stuart Howarth and Paul Wellens taking up the half back berths.
In the pack Jon Wilkin was named at 13 whilst centre Mark Percival was on the bench.
Still missing were Josh Perry, James Roby, Jonny Lomax, Willie Manu, Gary Wheeler and Anthony Walker.
George Griffin returned for Hull KR with Travis Burns.
Hull KR kicked off and promptly put the ball out on the full – Saints then returned the favour by being called for a forward pass on their first drive.
Tommy Makinson put Saints in good field position moments later but on the Robins’ next drive Jon Wilkin was put on report for a shoulder charge on Michael Dobson that left him shaken.
Francis Meli was then called for a high tackle but Saints defended the threat.
You felt the home side were always on top though and on their next set – after an error and penalty – they profited.
Saints couldn’t defend the strong line runners and a cute little chip was collected by Craig Hall.
Michael Dobson converted and seconds later it should have been more but David Hodgson knocked on with the line at his mercy.
Seconds later though Mickey Paea was over after Gardner was called for a shoulder charge.
Saints hit back with a try right out of the top drawer.
The ball was switched to the left following a fantastic Jordan Turner break on the right and then it went through several pairs of hands back over to its originator and the centre duly put Ade Gardner in.
Tommy Makinson converting from the touchline.
Saints had their tails up and had another good chance as the half wore on.
But after a break down the right hand side Francis Meli was sent off for a high tackle on Craig Hall – and he can have no complaints.
And Hall then twisted the screw by popping up in the corner.
With a man down Hull KR were finding gaps but Saints galvanised their defence just enough to get in just ten points down at half time.
It went without saying that Saints needed a big start to the second half and they almost got it after superb Makinson and Percival breaks.
And after a cheeky kick Paul Wellens mopped up.
Makinson converting to make it a four-point game.
And it got even better as Mark Percival latched on to Howarth and Soliola’s link up.
Makinson putting Saints two to the good.
Hull KR were denied a score when the ball was knocked on in the build-up – but on their next set they opened up the defence and Greg Eden sneaked through.
Dobson adding his third conversion of the afternoon.
12-man Saints continued to push and probe and won a drop out with 15 minutes remaining.
But the killer blow was landed when Michael Dobson chipped to Liam Salter late on.
Tries: Hall (2), Paea, Eden, Salter
Goals: Dobson (3 from 5)
Tries: Gardner, Wellens, Percival
Goals: Makinson (3 from 3)
Hull KR: 7
REF: Richard Silverwood
1. Greg Eden; 2. Craig Hall, 3. Kris Welham, 18. Liam Salter, 5. David Hodgson; 6. Travis Burns, 7. Michael Dobson; 23. Mickey Paea, 9. Josh Hodgson, 16. Adam Walker, 13. Rhys Lovegrove, 12. Cory Paterson, 25. George Griffin.
Subs: 11. Constantine Mika, 21. Keal Carlile, 22. Richard Beaumont, 24. James Green.
21. Tom Makinson; 2. Ade Gardner, 3. Jordan Turner, 19. Josh Jones, 5. Francis Meli; 36. Stuart Howarth, 1. Paul Wellens; 14. Anthony Laffranchi, 6. Lance Hohaia, 10. Louie McCarthy-Scarsbrook, 11. Tony Puletua, 4. Sia Soliola, 12. Jon Wilkin.
Subs: 16. Paul Clough, 24. Joe Greenwood, 25. Alex Walmsley, 30. Mark Percival.