Coach Rick Stone admitted Huddersfield Giants gave themselves too much to do with a poor first-half display at St Helens.
The Giants lost 40-16 and will be bottom of the Super 8s, even though they play Leeds at home in their final match on Friday night.
Huddersfield’s tries came through Ollie Roberts in the first half and Ryan Hinchcliffe and Jordan Rankin in the second, with Danny Brough adding two conversions.
“It was a patchy performance at best,” said Stone. “We didn’t start well and that was our undoing.
“We got ourselves back in it at 12-6 but we were a bit dishonest defensively. We got caught a few times.
“In the second half the effort was there, but the damage had been done.
“The whole game for us was pretty disappointing. We tried to make amends for last week’s display (against Salford) but Saints were pretty good in the first stint and they controlled the game.”
The Giants’ challenge for the top four failed pretty quickly and while Stone admitted that affected their motivation, he was not happy with that response.
“There’s a lot of teams with nothing to play for - as professional sportsmen you (should) always have something to play for,” he said.
“Our season as whole - it’s been a hard road. Injuries bashed us up early.
“We have a few players who are banged up at the moment and have some knocks tonight and that does have an effect. Motivation-wise, it’s a bit tougher when you have nothing to play for.”