Salford coach Ian Watson admitted that his side weren’t at the races in their defeat to table toppers St Helens.
A hat-trick from Ben Barba helped Saints run in 11 tries past the Red Devils in a 60-10 thrashing at the AJ Bell Stadium on Thursday night.
Salford had won their previous two games prior to kick-off against Huddersfield Giants and Wakefield Trinity, but were on the end of a heavy scoreline against the Saints.
And Watson was disappointed with Salford’s defending.
Speaking after the game, he said: “To turn out the two performances we have done in the last two games and then to turn that one out (against St Helens) – it looked like a different team.
“We just didn’t turn up straight from the beginning. There was a complete contrast from how we have been for the majority of the season.
“Our middles have been really good for us this season, but Saints were just a different level, from the middle to Benny Barba at the back.
“We weren’t ruthless enough in our defence and that is probably the first we can say that this year, because we have been very good in defence all year. All middles have been our mainstay this year, but it was a bad night for us.”
St Helens are currently top of the Super League table, having won 11 from 13 games.
Watson credited Saints on their performance and thinks they are the benchmark this season.
He added: “St Helens were first class and they have been all season.
“I think their loss to Wakefield the other week woke them up and they have come back with a vengeance in the last couple of weeks and that’s without (James) Roby and (Alex) Walmsley.
“There is no way of dressing it up though, we just weren’t there. With the group of players that I’ve got, I’m confident that we’ll be fine and bounce back the right way.”
Watson confirmed full-back Niall Evalds had failed a concussion assessment after receiving a high shot from Matty Lees, who was sent off for the tackle.