A solitary Regan Grace try eight minutes before half-time was the only scoring action as St Helens beat Castleford 4-0 in a match which equalled Super League’s lowest-scoring game.
Having beaten Celtic Crusaders 4-0 in 2009, Saints repeated the trick here on the night they were presented with the League Leaders’ Shield.
Castleford have never won a summer era game in St Helens but they may never get a better chance than this having dominated for long periods and bombing chance after chance, especially in the second half.
In their first game since being beaten by Warrington in the Challenge Cup final at Wembley six days ago, Saints performed magnificently in defence when they were clearly running on fumes in the closing minutes.
You have to go back to 1990 for the last time Castleford won a league game in the town and they arrived in Merseyside desperate for a win to keep their play-off ambitions alive.
But it was to be Saints’ night and they extended their lead at the top of the table to a staggering 18 points.
You have to go back to 1990 for the last time Castleford won a league game in the town and they arrived in Merseyside desperate for a win to keep their play-off ambitions alive.Jack Pickering
After the game, Saints were presented with the League Leaders’ Shield for the eighth time – the most in the competition’s history – after the game.
But the Shield will mean little if outgoing coach Justin Holbrook can not sign off with a first Grand Final win in five years.
It appeared they were in good touch as they made a bright start to the game, trying hard to keep the ball alive and playing an expansive style.
For the first half-hour, they enjoyed the better of things but were let down by handling errors and Saints, who had been clunky with ball in hand, grew in confidence having weathered the storm.
A moment of magic from hooker James Roby created the game’s only try with eight minutes of the first half remaining. He managed to get clear of an attempted tackle, passing left to Mark Percival who in turn found Grace, the winger at full stretch to score in the corner. Danny Richardson was unable to convert from the touchline.
Errors littered the start of the second half too, though it was Castleford who were on top, forcing Saints to concede two drop-outs and looking the most likely to score next with half-back Jake Trueman influential.
Still, the Saints defence stood firm though the exertions of Saturday’s Challenge Cup Final were clearly being felt.
A controversial forward pass call against a rampant Castleford on the halfway line with nine minutes remaining seemed to sum up their night.
St Helens: Welsby, Makinson, Costello, Percival, Grace, Lomax, Richardson, Amor, Roby, Thompson, Ashworth, Z. Taia, Knowles. Substitutes: Walmsley, Paulo, McCarthy-Scarsbrook, Bentley.
Castleford: Rankin, Clare, Mata’utia, Blair, Minikin, Trueman, Ellis, Watts, McShane, Millington, Holmes, McMeeken, Massey. Substitutes: Milner, Sene-Lefao, O’Neill, Smith.
Referee: James Child (RFL).