St Helens boss Kristian Woolf rues missed chances as Super League leaders beaten at Catalans Dragons

Just one point now separates St Helens and Wigan Warriors at the top of the table ahead of derby.

<p>Kristian Woolf, St Helens</p>

Kristian Woolf, St Helens

Steve McNamara’s Catalans Dragons blew the Betfred Super League title race wide open at the weekend with a 20-18 defeat of league leadersSt Helens.

The result heaps added pressure on the players who will be involved in the Saints versus Wigan Warriors top-of-the-table derby at St James’ Park, Newcastle, on Saturday (kick-off 4.45pm).

Catalans victory at the Stade Gilbert Brutus and Wigan’s runaway win at Wakefield Trinity on Sunday cut the deficit between the two giants of the game to a slender two points and sets the stage for a fascinating and nerve-tingling battle for Grand Final glory.

But the claims of both the Dragons and Huddersfield Giants, who slipped up against Castlford on Friday night, cannot be ignored and there is likely to be more twists and turns in the coming weeks.

St Helens’ setback in the south of France was only their third defeat of the 2022 league campaign, but head coach Kristian Woolf didn’t offer an excuse for their defeat in a match which was balanced on a knife edge from virtually start to finish.

The Aussie said: “I thought it was a good game of footy and felt we played well. I was really happy with our attitude and our effort.

“We turned up to play and probably the difference was that we didn’t quite take our chances.”

Woolf expects to have Konrad Hurrell, who missed the trip to the south of France through illness, and injury victim Will Hopoate back for the Magic Weekend clash with Wigan and will check on the fitness of Tommy Makinson, who was withdrawn part way through the first half suffering from a hamstring problem.

“It tightened up so we had to get him off quickly but I don’t think it is a tear or anything bad,” said Woolf.

Catalans tries: Laguerre (31), Drinkwater (39), Langi (53), Whare (62). Goals: Tomkins (2-4).

Saints tries: Mata’utia (6), Makinson (15), Davies (44), Welsby (65). Goals: Makinson (0-2), Davies (1-2).

Catalans: Tomkins; Yaha, Whare, Langi, Laguerre; Pearce, Drinkwater; Dudson, McIlorum, Napa, Julien, Whitley, Goudemand. Interchanges: Da Costa, Seguier, Romano, Kasiano.

Sin-bin: Napa (23).

St Helens: Bennison; Makinson, Davies, Mata’utia, Grace; Welsby, Lomax; Walmsley, Roby, Lees, Sironen, Batchelor, Knowles. Interchanges: Lussick, Paasi, Wingfield, Bell.

Half-time 10-8.

Full-time 20-18.