Castleford Tigers now face a do or die game in next week’s Super League play-offs after failing to end their dreadful run of results against St Helens in their qualification play-off.
Having failed to beat the Saints in their previous 13 games, they never really came close to ending that run as they suffered a massively disappointing 41-0 defeat.
The final score did not tell the tale of the battling effort put in by the Tigers in the first half and there were several controversial calls against them from the officials, which did not help their cause at crucial times before it became one-way traffic in the final quarter.
But St Helens were good in attack and defence and were more than worthy winners on the night.
Castleford battled hard in the first half and had a few tough calls against them, but turned round 13-0 down with it all to do.
They started solidly and were unlucky early on when Oliver Holmes’ kick went into touch near the try-line off Luke Thompson, but the officials ruled a Saints put in from the resulting scrum without going to the video referee.
When the video referee was brought into play after the ball went out off Justin Carney at the other end and referee James Child’s initial decision was reversed the hosts took full advantage of their fortune with James Roby going over from acting half three plays later. Mark Percival’s goal made it 6-0 after 18 minutes.
Roby then danced his way over six minutes later for his second try after brushing off Nathan Massey’s attempted tackle and Percival’s second try had Saints 12-0 up.
It looked like the hosts had scored again when with the Tigers defence stretched Tommy Makinson went over in the corner only to have his effort controversially chalked off for a forward pass.
It was a rare piece of luck for Cas, but they were unable to take advantage although they did improved towards the end of the half with Liam Finn’s little kick forcing a drop-out.
Another Finn kick almost paid off as it sailed into touch just over the outstretched arms of the leaping Kirk Dixon.
It looked like it had gone out in the field of play, but another big decision gave Saints a 20-metre tap instead of a scrum, from it they were awarded a penalty after a high tackled ruled against Holmes and with better field position from the final play of the half Jordan Turner landed a drop-goal to make it 13-0.
Cas started the second period without Jake Webster, who was taken ill at the break after suffering a head injury during the opening half and they began the half badly.
It did not help that referee Child made a big mistake in ruling a ball steal that should have been a knock-on. From the set that followed the penalty Turner took advantage of sloppy defending to find a gap and race clear for a try converted by Percival.
Cas were still in the game at this stage and were unlucky in the 51st minute when substitute Michael Channing attacked the line only to lose the ball over the line with Roby getting back to get his leg in the way.
It was effectively all over on 56 minutes, however, as Adam Swift raced over unopposed after collecting a loose ball. It did look like Weller Hauraki had been tackled without the ball to lead to it going to ground, but there was no video referee asked to intervene and with the try given and converted by Percival it was 25-0.
Cas went down a man for 10 minutes with skipper Michael Shenton sin-binned for tackling Paul Wellens without the ball as he looked to reached Roby’s grubber kick over the line.
And it did not take long for Saints to take advantage of the extra man with Tommy Makinson going over in the corner.
Big forwards Kyle Amor and Mose Masoe added insult to injury for the Tigers with tries scored in similar fashion with several Cas tacklers hanging on to them and the final hooter could not come too soon for the weary travellers.
Scorers - St Helens: Tries Roby 2, Turner, Swift, Makinson, Amor, Masoe; goals Percival 6; drop-goal Turner.
St Helens: Wellens; Makinson, Percival, Wheeler, Swift; Hohaia, Flanagan; Richards, Roby, Amor, McCarthy-Scarsbrook, Thompson, Turner. Subs: Masoe, Soliola, Manu, Laffranchi.
Castleford: Dorn; Dixon, Webster, Shenton, Carney; Ellis, Finn; Lynch, Milner, Huby, Holmes, Hauraki, Millington. Subs: Massey, Clark, Wheeldon, Channing.
Referee: James Child.