St Helens coach Justin Holbrook refused to make any excuses for their semi-final defeat to Warrington.
The Saints lost 18-13 to the Wolves at the Totally Wicked Stadium on Thursday night in the Super League semi-final.
They were the bookmakers’ favourites to win the competition after finishing top of the table after the Super 8s, but Holbrook said they simply didn’t deserve to win the semi-final.
He said: “We have worked hard all year to give ourselves the best chance of winning the Grand Final but we knew we had to win two more games but we didn’t play well enough.
“It was a tough game, we didn’t create enough opportunities but there was not much in it. We kept nudging ourselves in front but we made some poor decisions defensively. Credit to Warrington, they took their chances and that was the difference in the end.
“I want to give Warrington credit. They created chances and we didn’t create chances, we just ran around in the second half. I’m proud of the efforts of the players, it shows how hard they worked and I’m not questioning their efforts but there just isn’t anything next week now.
“I’d love for there to be excuses! I’d love for us to be able to say that four players were busted but there’s no excuse from us. We had everybody but big Al (Alex Walmsley) to pick from but we just didn’t play well enough and that’s hard to say and hard to take.”
Saints lifted the League Leaders’ Shield midway through the Super 8s after finishing first, winning 26 out of 30 games.
When asked if they need more reward for finishing top after the season, Holbrook replied: “I don’t think so.
“I love the Grand Final and semi-finals and that is why we play the sport. I am proud of the fact we won the League Leaders’ Shield and to be the most consistent side for 30 rounds is terrific but we won that playing against a wounded Hull FC at the back end of the year.
“You want to be next playing next week at Old Trafford holding up a trophy in front of a packed house and that’s what we wanted.
“I don’t think you can give us any more reward or recognition for what we have achieved, I think that’s next week when you deserve the recognition and when you play well but we didn’t.”
Holbrook revealed that Jonny Lomax played on in the game with a compound fracture to his finger, with ‘the bone being pierced out of his skin’.