SAINTS boss Justin Holbrook will get closure over the next few days on a season that promised so much, but ended a week prematurely.

The Star’s Mike Critchley caught up with him at the training ground to pick over the bones of the semi-final defeat and the season.

MC: All those credits built up over the season counted for nothing in the semi - a very brutal way for it to end a year that promised so much?

JH: It is hard to take because we have played so well over the course of the year and there are so many good things going on, but afterwards I was so devastated because it was all over.

We were consistent all year, but Warrington were slow starters who came good.

We were never miles ahead of them as a team. In the pack of Hill, Cooper and Murdoch-Masila, with Roberts and Brown in the halves, Ratchford and Lineham on the wings and Ratchford at full back. They are as good as us on paper.

To fall just short and then be bundled out is hard to take.

MC: Are there simple reasons why it went wrong?

JH: Once I watched it back there was not a lot in the game.

When you have played so well all year, the closer it is then the harder we found it to deal with. We did not create that many opportunities – and the ones we did we did not convert.

That is what I came down to – that and not making better defensive decisions on our edges.

We take the chance we created in the first half and it is enough to win, or if we stop one of those tries of theirs we also win. But we were not good enough to do it.

We led with six minutes to go, so we were not miles off. So it was not a diabolical performance like the Challenge Cup semi-final.

MC: For a team that has been so strong on defence, those errors must be hard to understand.

JH: In the end no-one could stop Tom Lineham from scoring that try.

If we do that we win the game and it is not gloom and doom, we win 13-12 and are preparing to play Wigan in a Grand Final.

It is fine margins in big games and we just so close.

There was not just one error in the defence, Ryan Morgan came and then Tommy Makinson.

Then we could have made the cover tackle, three of them made the error all in one play.

That is what it comes down to.

MC: The game was kept tight in the forwards, is that how you wanted to play it?

JH: The rucks were too slow to try and move it around. And they were a good defensive side as well. We were trying to create opportunities but it was game where we were not going to get many.

Sometimes you have to accept that is that and you can’t change the flow of the game.

MC: The Barba to Lomax chance on the hour was a game changer?

JH: I think Jonny was marked anyway I’d have preferred it if Benny had run himself there. How many times have we seen Benny put the brakes on then skim around and keep going?

I’d have liked to have seen him pull back, let the winger go into the full back, and then go again.

There was one in first half, Tommy passes to Danny and he would have had Ryan Morgan flying up on the outside. You have to take your chances. Two clear line breaks but we came up with the wrong options.

MC: In hindsight, would you have done anything differently with the bench selection?

JH: With Robes’ shoulder being no good and Morgan Knowles playing so well at hooker the previous few weeks from Catalans onwards, I knew Warrington had a very big pack so felt the best way of going in to that was to bring Robes on after 20 and leave him out there.

Jack Ashworth has been explosive the past few weeks and can give us some punch there. It was a very tough call to leave Theo Fages and Kyle Amor out because they have done a very good job for us all year.

I just kept thinking I have to pick the best 17 to beat Warrington – not think about any other team.

Knowing that they have Mike Cooper and Chris Hill who play such big minutes I thought that was the best approach.

MC: What was up with Dom Peyroux – shattered or injured?

JH: A bit of both. His arm was hurting, but I think the pace of the game and the lack of games we have been able to get into him just made it hard.

That forced our hand a bit early. We would have liked more minutes, but the fast pace and those early errors had an impact.

Because he is such an explosive, powerful athlete – he needs short bursts and rests. Because we didn’t get that it made it hard, It would be good for him to get a good pre-season.

MC: How do you assess Ben Barba's impact on Saints – now that he has gone? Is it clouded by the big defeats?

JH: It is hard to answer because we did get bundled out in the semi and feel that everyone’s assessment is hampered by that – from myself to everyone who played.

I don’t think Benny can be excluded from that. For how well we have done this year - lose one game and you are gone. It is hard.

Like I said at the start he will be great for Super League and for St Helens and he was that – but the fact that we did not get to the Challenge Cup Final or the Super League Grand Final is disappointing for Benny and for all of us.