JUSTIN Holbrook branded some of Saints’ ball control ‘disgraceful’ in the home loss to Hull FC, writes Mike Parsons.

Saints’ head coach and his Hull FC counterpart Lee Radford were also both critical generally of the lack of grip on the Super League rugby ball in wet conditions.

The error count was through the roof in a contest settled by a 50-metre penalty goal from Hull scrum half Marc Sneyd 16 minutes from time, a period in which Saints failed to get themselves in a position on the field to strike back.

Holbrook said: “It wasn't a good display, was it?

“It wasn't just us dropping the ball, they would have dropped it as much as us.

“Unfortunately it was one of the worst games of rugby league I've been involved in.

“I feel sorry for everyone having to watch that.

“We had a coach's conference in the week and I said when the balls get wet they are ridiculous.

“I'm not defending my team, I'm defending the game. I'm just glad that game wasn't on the telly, because it was embarrassing all around as a game.

“There wasn't much in it in the end.

“We dropped a lot of ball, so did they, and a 50-metre penalty goal was the difference in a poor game of rugby league.

“I’m still critical of our players of our ball security. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not trying to throw off on that.

“I thought it was disgraceful at times and it was a poor spectacle. And that’s not an excuse, we were poor at times and should have held onto balls that we didn’t and dropped some clean cold.”

Saints created opportunites on the left flank through Zeb Taia, Mark Percival and Regan Grace that they could not finish off in the first half and Holbrook said he was not particularly looking for his players to rein in their approach to suit the conditions.

“We’ve been playing really well and I wanted us to back ourselves,” he said.

“We created plenty of chances in the first half but unfortunately it didn’t come off. You don’t want to stop that.

“It was only a penalty goal in difference. I didn’t think Hull looked like scoring on us either. Sure, they played conservatively and probably played the conditions better. We still created plenty of chances and that’s the pleasing thing, but the disappointing thing is we didn’t win.

“We played a good style but unfortunately our last pass or some poor ball security (let us down).

“The effort level was fantastic but we just let ourselves down with some poor and unforced errors.

“I can cop the forced ones, I thought we created chances and if you miss those I’m ok with that because I don’t want us to stop playing football.

“But when you’ve got dumb ones, losing in the tackle or dropping it cold when you’re about to carry it up, or getting in front of the person who’s got the ball – we did that that many times and that’s all our doing.

“I started this talk about blaming conditions but in the end we didn’t play well enough to win. Credit to Hull, they simplified things, but in the end it was a tight game.”

Holbrook, who said Tommy Makinson and Alex Walmsley caught his eye with strong performances, did not seem concerned about how the loss sits in the big picture, although Saints have slipped out of the top four for the time being on the back of Wakefield’s big win over Leeds Rhinos on Thursday night.

“We’re not too worried about the long term from here,” he said.

“It’s just disappointing because we’ve been playing quite well for some time and it’s a bit of a setback.

“We’ve got to regroup for a tough one against Leeds, who will be disappointed with the way they played this week so it will be a tough assignment but one that we’ve got to be ready to bounce back for.”

Lee Radford revealed the disruption his Hull players had overcome in order to achieve their win.

“I apologise for the standard. The ball is what it is, there’s nowt we can do about that unfortunately,” he said.

“But don’t undersell that result because it was huge for us.

“I named Josh Bowden in the squad but he didn’t come through. First knock on my door yesterday morning was Mahe Fonua saying his Mrs had been taken in to hospital and was about to have their baby.

“Then we trained. Two minutes after the session finished Jamie Shaul said he wasn’t 100 per cent in his hamstring so I had to get Albert Kelly off the physio bed, because he wasn’t due to play, and asked him if he could get through 80 minutes if I patched him up.

“I had to round the team back in and tell them the changes.

“Then I woke up to a phone call at 6.30am this morning from Fetuli Talanoa saying he was as sick as a dog.

“So to have all that in the build-up and come here and get a result against a team that’s on everybody’s tongue at the moment it was the ugliest prettiest result I’ve had in an awful long time.

“The players deserve so much credit because of what’s gone on leading up to the game.

“To come here and grind out the result like they did in those conditions was phenomenal and hopefully people might start taking us serious now.”