Castleford Tigers head coach Daryl Powell believes his side would still be unbeaten if Ben Roberts had not picked up a foot injury that forced him off the field midway through the first half at St Helens last week.
The Tigers opened up a 14-6 lead with Roberts and half-back partner Luke Gale orchestrating what was looking like being the night that Cas could finally overcome their long wait for an away win against Saints.
But following the loss of Roberts, St Helens hit back and with forwards Junior Moors and Grant Millington also having to come off with injuries the hosts went on to record a 28-22 victory and inflict a first defeat on the Tigers in 2016.
Cas boss Powell did not simply blame the injuries for the loss, but made a case for how important they were.
He told the Express: “Obviously we didn’t get the result we wanted and it was bit of a mixed game for us.
“We got ourselves in front and then as soon as we’d done that we lost Benny Roberts, which made life difficult for us.
“It restricted us to one half-back and it made our kicking game more difficult while their kicking game was exceptional.
“I think if Benny had stayed on we would have won the game. But that wasn’t to be as he got that unfortunate injury.
“It was tough the things that happened to us in terms of losing players.
“We lost three players, all quality players that couldn’t go back on the field, so we ended up with one usable sub for a decent chunk of the game and that made life really hard for us.”
Powell reflected on a big decision right at the end when winger Denny Solomona was denied a try that could have given the Tigers a last-gasp draw.
He said: “I thought we were unlucky at the end. Denny Solomona steals a ball and then scores in the corner, but they deemed it to be a knock-on, which is a 50-50 call and it went against us on this occasion.
“It would have given Galey a shot at goal to draw the game.
“But we probably didn’t deserve too much out of the game based on the balance of play. They had a lot more possession, they had 12 more sets than us and that’s a lot in a game of rugby league.
“There was a period in the second half at 16-all when they had a big block of possession that got them the game really.”