A LOUD chorus of boos greeted Saints’ 8-6 home defeat by Castleford – a response that will sting the players and coaching staff alike after a poor display.

Although Saints had a chance to snatch it at the end, and would have done had Agnatius Paasi’s offload been taken, they ultimately got their just deserts for a dire performance.

And the crowd’s vocal response at the end, and the relatively subdued silence that greeted the pretty turgid 80 minutes that preceded it, said it all.

Saints have a well-documented injury list – but that can in no way, shape or form be used as an alibi to excuse an atrocious performance.

At times this year – Warrington in the cup, Hull KR away – Saints have been played off the park by the opposition.

But this was different - one of those occasions in which Saints simply lacked any form of gumption, energy, enthusiasm or creativity to take control of the game.

Too often they drifted aimlessly, cut back on themselves and gave the impression that they did not know how their set was going to roll out and resorted to panic offloads.

It turned into the most painful watch for a long time and the fans let their feelings be known at the end.

Coach Paul Wellens said: “I hope the boos at the end of the game sting – it certainly stings me.

“I am a St Helens fan but I am also the head coach now and I feel it.

“I feel the disappointment but what I've also got to do is take a bit of time and try not to get over emotional, because that's not going to do anybody any good but go back and watch the game, reflect on that and see where we can improve.

“But when the boos ring around the ground as they did tonight I would be very disappointed if any single person in a Saints kit tonight left the field, not stinging as well.”

Maybe off the back of the defeat by Salford a fortnight ago and then a blank weekend, there was an anxiety about Saints play – maybe also picking up on the subdued atmosphere inside the ground for the first home game for a month.

It felt like they were playing with the weight of the world on their shoulders, but for all the personnel missing there were enough members of the Saints brains trust to take control.

Instead, the longer it went on the worse it got with forced passes not finding hands and in defence three times Saints dropped high bombs – twice conceding penalties from them.

It gave a struggling Castleford and their 50-strong travelling support all the encouragement they needed to scent blood.

Wellens said: “I'm not so sure where the anxiety comes from.

"Again, obviously we've lost a game (Salford) and people can sense there is a bit of pressure on us.

“But what I want for the playing group is for me take on that pressure now. I'll carry the can for the results.

“I'm comfortable doing that. I knew that when I took the job. I want our players to go out there and play and play with energy, play for each other. Show work ethic and we show desperation. That's what we're like when we're at our best.

“That's what we want to see us do moving forward.

“Pressure, when you are player, really weighs you down. We need to free up a little bit, but we lacked smarts tonight in terms of the way we played as well.”

With the ball Saints were pretty dismal, and a key weakness was their half’s inability or unwillingness to take the ball to the teeth of the defensive line, ask questions and commit defenders.

Simply shovelling the ball from side to side resulted in some disastrously aimless play that was swiftly closed down without ever challenging the defence.

Wellens said: “We had a game plan that we presented to the players in the week and at times we were just doing different things than what we spoke about during the week.

“That is something that I need to address with our spine in in the week because again that's something that's happened too often for my liking.

“We drifted from side to side. Rugby league is a north south game - go forward, create one on ones, get a bit of ruck momentum.

“It seemed we wanted to score all our tries and out wide and diving in the corner.

“It's frustrating because in Laurent, our attack coach, is a rugby nerd. He spends hours and hours watching vision footage and then trimming it down to come up with a game plan for the players to execute.

“We didn't do that tonight. We didn't follow it through.

“If we have a game plan that we stick to and we don't get it right – then that is on us.

“But if we have a game plan that the players don't stick to, then that's on them and they have to accept that.

“Again, we became a team that didn't look happy at the being in a tight game.

“A lot of the players on that field today have been in those games, and love being in those games and come out the other side because they know exactly what's needed in that situation.

"We didn't look like the team that knew what we were doing or knew what was needed in that situation tonight.”