The game of round seven of Superleague was the clash of top against third as St Helens travelled to the Mend-A-Hose Jungle to take on the Castleford Tigers. A win by seventeen points or more would see the home side into top spot, but should the visitors emerge triumphant then they would regain their two point cushion at the top of the table.
Saints were unchanged from the side which prevailed over the Huddersfield Giants last weekend while the Tigers had Grant Millington back in the starting line-up, after suspension, in place of Jesse Sene-Lefeo, who dropped to the bench. Chris Clarkson also missed out, being replaced by James Clare.
The home supporters were looking for a more convincing performance than their side turned in against Salford last week, but they were up against it with St Helens being installed as strong favourites for the win.
It was an all too easy start for Saints as they got over the line, in the guise of Lachlan Coote, after just four minutes. Coote added the extras himself for a quick 6-0 lead.
Regan Grace was held out by great Tigers defence on eight minutes and the Tigers managed to work their way out of trouble but on thirteen Coote kicked a penalty from under the sticks after a reckless high tackle.
Regan Grace grabbed himself a spectacular try on twenty-two when Saints worked a move from the base of the scrum after Greg Eden spilled the ball inside his own twenty. Mark Percival supplied the final pass for Grace to leap and score in the corner. Coote was unable to convert from the touchline.
A loose pass from Greg Eden gifted possession to Saints close to the Tigers twenty. Saints prodded and probed before Dominique Peyroux found a gap to charge over the line for Saints third try of the night. Coote added the conversion and at 18-0 the Tigers looked in deep trouble, prompting coach Powell to walk across the centre of the field, glaring at his charges.
Two minutes into the second half Zeb Taia continued the Saints scoring when he went through a gap on the overlap through an already tired looking Tigers defence. Coote added the conversion to further extend the lead.
On forty-eight Louie McCarthy-Scarsbrook was the fifth Saint across the line, again benefitting from Castleford errors, to score almost unopposed. Coote hit the near upright with his conversion attempt but Saints were 28-0 ahead and the points were in the bag.
Mark Percival scored on fifty-four to continue the procession, beating a three man tackling party to ground over the line. Coote was unable to add the extras but it hardly mattered as his side were totally dominant.
As Saints pushed for anothe try Michael Shenton intercepted on his own line and went the length of the field, evading the chasing Grace, to score under the sticks. Paul McShane kicked the conversion for 6-32.
Peyroux became the first Saints player to register a brace on sixty-four after James Roby had juggled the ball in finding a gap in the Tigers line. Coote again missed the extras, having a poor night with the boot.
A great Percival break found Jonny Lomax inside in support to go the last twenty of a sixty metre break to score between the sticks. Coote kicked the conversion but the final scoring action came when Jake Trueman grabbed a seventy-ninth minute consolation try fro the Tigers, and when Rankin kicked the goal he gave the home side a crumb of comfort in a 12-42 defeat.
Saints arrived at the MAH Jungle with a mission to accomplish and they did so with great aplomb. They took the lead early and dominated for the entire eighty, the only points registered by the home side being thanks to a somewhat dodgy looking intercept, and a last gasp consolation. The Champions elect go two points clear at the top and vastly improved their points difference and can now boast the best attack and best defence in this seasons competition so far. The Tigers will be counting their blessings that it wasn’t a larger losing margin.
Tigers: Mata’utia, Minikin, Foster, Shenton (T), Eden, Trueman (T), Rankin (G), Watts, McShane (G), Millington, Holmes, Moors, Massey. Subs: Clare, Milner, Sene-Lefeo. Cook.
Saints: Coote (T, 5G), Makinson, Naiqama, Percival (T), Grace (T), Fages, Lomax, Walmsley, Roby, Thompson, Peyroux (2T), Taia (T), Knowles. Subs: Paulo, McCarthy-Scarsbrook (T), Lees, Ashworth.
Referee: James Child.