THE manner of Saints' loss at Salford yesterday came as a shock to many - and it generated plenty of talking points.

Here is this week's set of six.

1. Salford.

Let's start with a positive - but unfortunately it does not involve Saints.

But a word has to be said about Salford's style and the confidence that grew from Saints' open invitation.

Their willingness to ditch the formula and attack from deep was epitomised by the try of the match from Jack Welsby’s last tackle grubber. They countered brilliantly with the ball worked to the unplayable Tim Lafai before Brodie Croft polished it off.

It is arguably the best football a Salford side has played since the Quality Street gang of David Watkins, Chris Hesketh, Keith Fielding and Maurice Richards with an S on their chest graced the Willows.

They are passionate lot on the terraces – too - there just needs to be more of them and let's hope they can pull them in to fill that empty bank of seats.

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2. What went wrong?

Kristian Woolf was not sure what has changed since the Huddersfield game that has contributed to two below-par performances.

Bar missing the suspended Sione Mata’utia in the centres it’s the same side that finished the game with a 25-0 win following the re-jig after the early departure of Will Hopoate.

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One thing that did change that weekend of the Giants game was Saints taking a huge step towards completing their next goal of securing a top-two finish.

As things stand with six regular rounds to play, four of which are at home, Saints are seven points clear of third-placed Huddersfield.

Maybe this has contributed to a degree of job-done complacency, with Saints taking their foot off the gas after a tough run of games.

That, when facing opponents either fighting to preserve their top-flight status (Wakefield) or battling to stay in the top six (Salford last week, Castleford this) doesn’t end well as we saw on Sunday.

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It is clearly something Kristian Woolf does not want to encourage – particularly as Saints have prided themselves on hard work and effort – something that has dropped off this past fortnight.

No team can be 100 per cent every week for the 27 rounds and then hit the play-offs, but Woolf will not want the past two weeks standards to become a habit.

Hard work, honesty and effort have been Saints’ USP under Woolf – and no doubt that will be drilled into the players again this week.

3. Injuries.

Kristian Woolf has not used injuries as an excuse. Every team has injuries – but this year Saints have been particularly badly hit across the 1-7 areas.

Lewis Dodd has been ruled out for the season, Jonny Lomax has played on since after Easter with a ruptured bicep, Will Hopoate has been in and out all term, Mark Percival has been out since mid May and Tommy Makinson has been out for a significant spell.

Sunday added to that woe with Regan Grace – who missed the start of the year – picking up an Achilles injury and will see a specialist today.

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Curtis Sironen suffered a suspected ruptured bicep in the same game.

That has meant two things. Not only have Saints missed what those players bring as individuals, but the constant chopping has led to more or less weekly changes in the spine and on the edges.

This does not only hinder the fluency of the attack – but when combined with a drop off in the effort/hard work from point 2 it can lead to a break down in some aspects of the defence.

So no excuses for Sunday’s debacle, but Saints will look a lot better once Percival and Makinson are restored to the three-quarters, and Hopoate to full back – allowing Jack Welsby to go back to 6 and James Roby to 9. Fingers crossed.

4. Returning Saints?

Unless anything has changed in the meantime, international three-quarters Tommy Makinson and Mark Percival are due back either this weekend or next. Of course any team would miss a finisher like Makinson and a strike player like Percival. Purists will hate this bit, but one of the big things Saints have missed has been Makinson’s early carry from back play.

And just like the backs are often grateful for the huge go-forward Alex Walmsley brings on a play 3 or 4, both he and Agnatius Paasi will be equally pleased to be taking that charge off the back of an early Makinson run and quick play the ball has seen the defence back-pedal.

5. Jack Welsby.

Jack Welsby is a player with the world at his feet – and at times this past two weeks he has been playing like the rugby league equivalent of Roy of the Rovers.

By that, he is going out of his way to try and generate something when all else around him appears to be falling short.

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With that will come errors – and he possibly made a couple on the last tackle by almost trying too hard to find that crucial game-changer.

Nobody is going to crucify him for that – and if anything it shows his desire and passion to try anything to not settle for defeat.

A winning mentality is part of Saints’ champion DNA and Welsby has it in spades, but it will help his game massively once Hopoate returns he slots back into 6 with Lomax for the rest of the season.

6. Regan Grace.

There will be plenty of crossed fingers for Regan Grace – who went down unopposed with an Achilles injury in the last play of the game.

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The Welsh flyer, who departs these shores at the end of the season for French rugby union, has been a hugely popular crowd pleaser since breaking into the first team as a teenager on Good Friday 2017.

We will see what the scans say and cross fingers that the injury is not as bad as Lewis Dodd’s season ender.

It is not simply because we want players like Grace fit for the play-offs, but it would be a cruel way to end his time in the red vee. Although we fear the worst, let’s hope for the best.