WATCHING this St Helens side is just like watching Castleford Tigers last year.
For the third time this season, Daryl Powell’s outfit were beaten by a thrilling team that looks destined to soon take the League Leaders Shield off them.
Granted, Castleford, having lost Junior Moors and Benny Roberts to first half injuries, did rally late on with three successive tries via Jy Hitchcox, Jake Trueman and Oli Holmes.
But they were 34-4 down by the time that flourish arrived in the last quarter having been ruthlessly and routinely dissected.
Stand-off Jonny Lomax was the star for Saints, showing it isn’t just Ben Barba who can shine in Justin Holbrook’s sensational side.
Indeed, Australian full-back Barba limped off in the 55th minute, his own work done, just as it was when he scored a hat-trick here to knock Tigers out of the Challenge Cup less than a fortnight before.
Tigers, having vanquished Leeds Rhinos at Magic Weekend, spoke about making a ‘statement’ against Saints this time around but the final scoreline told the real story.
They were 22-4 down at half-time and, although they had seen two Greg Minikin ‘tries’ disallowed, were taught some lessons.
They needed to score first in the second period but instead conceded twice to Saints centre Ryan Morgan to end the contest.
Roberts returned after missing the last four games but, with centre Jake Webster injured, Michael Shenton was kept at No 1.
Castleford’s main axis, though, with Jamie Ellis and Jake Trueman at halves, never looked at ease.
Roberts did not complete the first half, limping off with a torn hamstring leaving Tigers with second-rows Mike McMeeken and Alex Foster as their centre pairing.
There was too many poor individual mistakes from Castleford players and their goalline defence was unusually porous.
The first sign of that was when Kyle Amor muscled over with alarming ease inside the third minute, Danny Richardson kicking the first of his four goals. Powell’s side struck straight back when Liam Watts’ short pass saw McMeeken power over.
However, Ellis missed the simple conversion attempt, an illustration of the basic problems that hit them.
It was frustrating; Jesse Sene-Lefao and Watts - in his 200th Super League appearance - made great metres early on and Castleford had genuine purpose in their address.
But too often things went awry when it came to the final third. They were unfortunate, too, mind; Adam Swift dropped Trueman’s high kick but it fell to Barba who, in an instant, skipped down the touchline to score from 90m while home fans presumed a knock-on would be awarded.
They conceded a penalty when in possession to gift position for Saints’ third score and Lomax provided the guile with a lovely slipped pass to send Dominique Peyroux over once more untouched.
Their defence was found wanting again, particularly when Lomax weaved through for Morgan’s second.
Theo Fages then crossed and – after that flurry of Castleford tries – he finished it off, too.
Castleford Tigers: Shenton; Minikin, Foster, Roberts, Hitchcox; Ellis, Trueman; Watts, McShane, Sene-Lefao, Holmes, McMeeken, Milner. Substitutes: Moors, Millington, Massey, Cook.
St Helens: Barba; Swift, Morgan, Percival, Grace; Lomax, Richardson; Amor, Roby, Thompson, Peyroux, Taia, Wilkin. Substitutes: Fages, McCarthy-Scarsbrook, Douglas, Knowles.
Referee: Chris Kendall (Huddersfield)