CASTLEFORD TIGERS’ long wait for an away win against St Helens continues after they were hammered 46-6 in Betfred Super League round one last night.
Tigers haven’t won away to Saints since a Regal Trophy tie in 1992 and their most recent league victory there was two years earlier.
The winless run – which includes a draw in 1998 – was extended to 31 games by a red hot Saints outfit, brilliantly inspired by Australian full-back Ben Barba.
He is favourite to be named Man of Steel this year and ripped Castleford apart. In the first half he scored Saints’ opening try and was involved in the next three. He added another try and an assist in the second half.
Saints, who led 22-0 at half-time, were very impressive, but Tigers fell way short of the standards set when finishing top of the table and reaching the Grand Final last year.
They were out-enthused, their defence was opened up too easily and the attack didn’t click, with the ball going to ground far too many times.
Their night was summed up when Jake Trueman spilled a goalline drop out into touch and Ben Roberts knocked on in the first tackle of a repeat set near Saints’ line.
Barba was in support to cross after just four minutes when Mark Percival broke down Saints’ left.
Danny Richardson landed the first of his seven goals and in the next set James Roby–- making his 400th appearance for Saints – powered through the middle, Jon Wilkin, Barba and Roby again kept the ball moving and Zeb Taia was on hand to go over. Saints added a third touchdown after 24 minutes. Barba’s kick seemed to be going dead, but Alex Walmsley batted it back and Jonny Lomax touched down.
Referee James Child indicated no try, but he was overruled by video assistant Phil Bentham.
Lomax landed a 40-20 in the next set, Tigers were penalised and from that Percival powered over from a show and go by Barba and the conversion made it 22-0 after 28 minutes.
Tigers didn’t get into Saints’ 20 up to that point and though they pressed in the final stages of the half, they could not apply a killer touch.
It was a similar story in the third quarter before Percival went over for his second try, created by Barba, after 55 minutes and when Richardson added the extras, Saints’ fans taunted Cas with chants of “you’re just a one-season wonder”.
Soon after that, Saints prop Kyle Amor was harshly sin-binned for raising a knee on Roberts in a tackle and Tigers took advantage to break their duck through Paul McShane, who crossed from Green’s neat offload and Luke Gale converted.
Green was the only new signing in either side.
Jake Trueman was preferred at stand-off to Jamie Ellis for Cas, who did not risk Joe Wardle due to a “niggle” picked up in training.
With 13 minutes left, Barba capped an outstanding display when he got across to shove Greg Eden into touch inside Tigers’ half, then scored his second try in the resulting set.
Barba’s pass almost set up a late score for Regan Grace, but – after Child indicated a try – video ref Phil Bentham spotted a hand in touch.
Even so, Saints added back-to-back tries in the final moments as Taia scored his second and Percival completed a hat-trick to end a miserable night for Tigers.
St Helens: Barba, Makinson, Morgan, Percival, Grace, Lomax, Richardson, Amor, Roby, Thompson, Peyroux, Taia, Wilkin. Subs: Fages, Walmsley, McCarthy-Scarsbrook, Knowles.
Castleford Tigers: Roberts, Minikin, Webster, Shenton, Eden, Trueman, Gale, Moors, McShane, Green, Holmes, McMeeken, Massey. Subs: Millington, Milner, Sene-Lefao, Cook.
Referee: James Child (Batley).