Saints denied by Warrington
St Helens were made to wait to get their hands on the League Leaders' Shield as they were convincingly beaten 39-12 at home by Warrington.
The Wolves, who saw their hopes of finishing the regular season on top of the table dashed by a home draw with Huddersfield a week ago, made it four wins from four Super League trips to Langtree Park.
And their performance was typified by full-back Shannon McDonnell who broke his jaw in the first minute but scored a try three minutes later and stayed on until half-time with an injury that will end his season.
Joel Monaghan crossed twice for the visitors to bring up his century of tries in the competition, though victory came at a price for Tony Smith's side as they also lost Simon Grix to a suspected broken ankle.
Saints had known just a draw would be enough for them to be crowned top seed heading into the playoffs but instead missed out on clinching their first piece of silverware since 2008, meaning Castleford could still pip them to first place.
It had all started so well for the hosts too, McDonnell giving them the lead in the fourth minute as St Helens' current full-back finished off a move that had been ignited by the man who used to be their last line of defence, captain Paul Wellens.
But Warrington's response was swift and emphatic as Stefan Ratchford crossed, although he was unable to even up the scores with the conversion.
Grix's horror injury led to a lengthy delay to proceedings as he was initially treated on the field, though neither the stoppage nor the obvious distress at seeing a team-mate in pain could cool off the red-hot Wolves.
Michael Monaghan fooled two St Helens markers to waltz over untouched from dummy half, then Gareth O'Brien used a dummy to good effect himself to cross on the left side.
Joel Monaghan's first of the night – coming after his brother had started things off with a superbly-timed offload that put Trent Waterhouse through the first line of defence – completed a blistering spell of three tries in five minutes.
Willie Manu showed impressive footwork for a forward to step around last man Matty Russell and score underneath the uprights for St Helens, but Tommy Makinson's second successful conversion would prove to be the last points the home side would manage. To rub salt in the wounds, the Sky cameras screened the Leaders' Shield being packed up and taken away long before the final hooter on the big screen, bringing about ironic cheers from the visiting fans.
Richie Myler rounded out the scoring in the first half with a drop goal before stretching the lead seven minutes after the break with his side's fifth try of the night.
Although he rarely needs any help in scoring, Joel Monaghan was gifted the chance to bring up his personal milestone when twice St Helens failed to deal with a loose ball on a free play, allowing the Australian to hack it forward and dive over to make it 100 not out.
Ryan Atkins was also the beneficiary of a Saints error as he scooped up an errant pass by Jordan Turner to gallop away to the line, O'Brien taking over the kicking duties from Ratchford to add the conversion.
St Helens will at least get another chance to be crowned minor premiers when they travel to Huddersfield in the final round of fixtures should Castleford win on Sunday. However, their hopes of a celebration at home had been well and truly dashed by Warrington, who round out their cam paign with a tough trip to Wigan next Thursday.