IT has been an understandably despondent camp at Saints this week, the Star’s Mike Critchley caught up with Justin Holbrook to ask how they are going to lift spirits for play-offs.

MC: Wembley has been a big positive focus for a long time, what it is it like when it ends in that manner?

JH: It is horrible. It was tough right from the start and could not get things going our way.

I’m disappointed, I hear people tell that we didn’t turn up and I am offended by that. The first 25 minutes we were the better side and could not get over the line and had some tough calls.

In the end they come up with the first try and they defended so well.

People forget how good a side Warrington are, given they are so inconsistent. On their day – they showed it at the weekend – they are as good as anybody. Full credit to them.

MC: Warrington were in your faces, but the non-policing of the 10m rule impacted on Saints’ game - is there way of combating that when the game is played that way?

JH: We play in an honest and hard fashion, but there were things they got away with – but they are the ones holding the trophy and we are not. It is tough to take.

We made a lot of unforced errors but that is due to extremely hot conditions and from a side chasing points makes it hard. If we could have gone in front ourselves, which we deserved to be, then that forces them to start to play and then they would probably be the ones coming up with errors. We have to cop it on the chin as staff and as players – it wasn’t good enough and we have to accept that.

MC: Two or three big calls did make a big impact on the game?

JH: With the Percival try – even if it is no try ­— they knocked it out of Zebby’s hands so it should have been our scrum feed.

They get three tackles and then six again when they knocked it on and then scored.

That is tough to take and it makes it difficult, but we threw everything at them in the first 20 minutes of the second half.

When Theo finally got over the line I thought here we come, but we made an error off the kick off set and as time went on a bit of frustration crept in because we were running out of time because you are trying to play when you are not ready to play.

Warrington played a great game, and both sets of players were run off their feet but when they had the ball they only had one person to carry every time but it didn’t matter because they didn’t need points.

When we had the ball it was ‘quick, everybody get ready to play’ because we had to chase them’. If you are chasing a side in 30 degree heat and in the fastest game we have played all year, we are up against it.

MC: Second half you opted to turn over on the line, not get the kick away, was that a deliberate tactic?

JH: We have always played like that this year, sometimes we kick but sometimes running on last is good. If you turn over close to the line. I was OK with our last play options.

MC: Which areas were you not OK with?

JH: Definitely the unforced errors because it made it hard for ourselves. It was nothing like Catalans last year at all. The errors in the last 15 minutes made it hard, we were run off our feet.

MC: That is another big game lost, does people putting that tag of losing finals and semis around your necks add more motivation?

JH: We have to accept that. If you don’t win them you are going to cop criticism. That comes with the territory, if you play so well all year but then don’t win the finals you are going to cop some stick – I am fine with that, I am not fine with saying we didn’t turn up.

MC: How do you draw a line under Saturday and gee them up for this last tilt?

JH: Time is the only thing that helps us. Nobody is in a good mood, the players or myself, and nor should we be.

The beauty of it is that we are in a great spot in Super League.

We have to bounce back on Friday which is going to be hard, but we are not far from the final series and that has got to be motivation.

The fact that we fell short at Wembley means we have to try and push that bit further for the finals.

St Helens Star:

MC: Looking to Friday, Cas have been patchy but they are gunning for the top five - do you welcome a test so soon after Wembley?

JH: Any team would be hard this weekend; Cas fighting to get to the play-offs, but I'd find it as difficult playing London or Hull KR.

There are 11 other teams with motivation – ours is from within, living up to our own standards.

That is why we are so clear at the top – because we pride ourselves in how we play every week.

The others are fighting for a spot in finals or to not be relegated, last three games are going to be hard.

MC: And what do expect from Cas?

JH: They have had injuries but they have really got going now and back to throwing the ball about.

MC: Saints have looked out on their own for so long, how do you think the chasing pack in Super League will respond?

JH: Someone asked me on Saturday if that was a blue print to beat Saints, but Warrington played fantastic.

I see them as good as us if you go through the two teams, the only difference is we have performed every week and they haven’t, but sport is about the 80 minutes you have got to produce.

They are as good as us.

MC: It is not necessarily the trophy you want, but how will you mark the League Leaders Shield on Friday?

JH: Prior to the play-offs we will have played 33 weeks straight. It is a brutal sport that we play. It is not a case of keep rolling out and playing unbelievably well but it is hard work and the players deserve a lot of credit for what we have done.

We are hurting from the weekend but in Super League we have done well every week.

It is disappointing because we all wanted to win the Challenge cup and in terms of trophies the League Leaders Shield is still third.

It is still a great achievement; to play all those weeks is hard for players but credit to them, they play to a standard every week.

We have to raise our levels a bit for the bigger games because we fell short at the weekend but to play well every week is a credit to them.

Every week we turn up and give it a good crack and try hard.