Last night, on the twitter, Sky pundit Phil Clarke was asked what he thought was wrong with Warrington.
“I’ve only got 127 characters” he replied.
He could have been more succinct and just said ‘fucking everything’.
From start to finish, for the sixth successive league game this year, we were a distant second best.
Fair enough, we held Saints out for the first half an hour or so, but during that time, we rarely got out of our own half and you could feel the momentum swing their way with every weak clearance set, every shit last tackle kick, and every stupid penalty given away.
St Helens, with their prodigal son Matty Smith making his long-awaiting second league debut, kept it simple but effective with a controlled kicking game, forcing repeat sets and softening our defensive line.
It genuinely felt like a matter of when, rather than if, our defence would crack.
And it cracked in the most predictable way.
Having already touched down over the line twice – one disallowed for knock on down one wing, one for a forward pass down the other – Saints opened the scoring on the 30 minute mark when Roby’s poke into the in-goal area wasn’t dealt with by the ever-useless Matty Russell and allowed Zeb Taia to score the most simple try he will ever be gifted in his career.
Such was the ineptitude of Russell’s attempt to ground the ball, the referee actually sent it to the video ref as a No Try decision. How often do you see the on-field decision overturned even when it’s blindingly obvious?
We hate to single people out for scorn, because there’s a lot of people stealing a living in the primrose and blue this year, but Matty Russell really does rank high in the list of worst players we’ve ever seen at the club.
As is the usual story, after that opening try, heads dropped and Saints didn’t have to wait long before doubling their lead.
Penalties gifted them field position – for a change! – and a pin point Matty Smith kick punctuated a bit of off-the-cuff rugby and found Jack Owens with absolutely acres of space to allow the scrap metal merchant-looking winger to touch down.
They were over again from the very first set after the restart.
Mark Percival capitalised on our dreadful right edge defence by bursting onto a flat pass deep inside his own half and racing downfield before releasing Adam Swift who sauntered in for a try while Matty Russell tripped over his own fucking feet.
We wrote before the season started what a great signing Smith was for St Helens and how he would boost their chances of winning the Grand Final.
As bad as they were last year, they were two dodgy tries away from making Old Trafford last year.
Smith at 7, his kicking game, his game management, his rugby brain, would make any team in the competition better and if he had been fit from the start of the season, you really doubt Saints would be where they are now.
And what we would give for a half back like him in our team right now.
Our half backs did combine – hurrah – in the opening few minutes of the second half, when Kevin Brown found himself at dummy half and hit Gidley with a flat ball for the former Australian international to collect our solitary consolation score of the night.
Other than that, neither of them provided a good kick all game and yet again, our most creative player was Joe Westerman, who provided a rare glimpse of class with another eye-catching offload in the second half.
The nature of the try, the urgency that forced Smith to kick out on the full, the offside from the restart, gave the travelling support a bit of hope that a Saints-esque comeback was on.
And it’s the hope that kills you.
A forward pass from Dwyer at dummy half killed our momentum stone dead and that was the last time we looked like even competing in the game.
The night just got worse and worse from then on.
More penalties, more soft tries conceded, more clueless attacking play.
You know the dance by now.
Six defeats is the worst start to a season in the club’s history and the fixture list over the next month doesn’t exactly fill you with confidence that a win is around the corner.
Granted, the way we’re playing, it wouldn’t fill you with confidence if we were playing Culcheth Eagles next week, but Hull at home, followed by Leeds, before the annual Cup Final defeat away at Widnes could, in all honesty, take us to nine straight defeats by the time the kids break up for the Easter holidays.
As it stands, we can kiss goodbye to any hopes of a top four finish now. We are too far behind the teams at the top to catch them up and we haven’t seen anything all year to give us any indication that we could.
If we do, as we all expect, lose the next couple, we can kiss goodbye to the top eight, too.
Are you watching Featherstone?