Castleford Tigers’ long run without a win at St Helens continued when they were unlucky with decisions again and lost 21-14 at Langtree Park.
Daryl Powell’s men will feel they missed a great chance to beat a team that looked a little tired after their exploits in the World Club Challenge, but they missed several opportunities and fell just short to be left still looking for a first win this season.
Despite dominating much of the first half Castleford failed to get over the line for one reason or another and found themselves 10-0 down.
In the opening minute the Tigers were looking a threat when Junior Moors made a fine break only for the move to end when Jordan Tansey’s kick on the sixth tackle went dead.
Denny Solomona came close to knocking back a high kick as Cas attacked again, but after Tansey dropped a high ball inside his own 20 it gave the hosts their first chance to exert some pressure.
Kyle Amor was held up over the line, but within a minute Saints did score their first try as an overlap was created and Jonny Lomax sent in Adam Swift. A conversion from wide out by Mark Percival made it 6-0 after 11 minutes.
Cas looked to come back and were unlucky when Moors’ pass out of the back of his hand was dropped by Solomona with the line begging.
Solomona then got up to a Liam Finn high kick only to knock the ball forward and pick up a knee injury in his landing on the ground.
Justin Carney was next to go close when he rolled round in a tackle only to be held up over the line, the video referee correctly ruling no try.
Substitute Mike McMeeken almost marked his debut by setting up a try after a promising half-break, but his pass to Tansey was ruled forward.
Cas then lost the influential Andy Lynch to injury, but remained on top and were robbed of a try on 31 minutes when Finn brilliantly offloaded on the ground to Ryan Boyle, but the prop was denied by another forward pass call, this time appearing to be wrongly given.
It was Saints’ turn to be denied by the video referee when Percival dropped the ball over the line, but the Tigers could feel hard done to again as Michael Shenton’s pass inside was knocked down by a home player and collected by his team-mate, James Roby.
From the next set St Helens made their way upfield, earned a drop-out then from that scored their second try, Tommy Makinson going over in the corner after good work by Lomax.
Castleford needed a big start to the second half, but the opposite happened as Carney collected a kick downfield and threw a wild pass out. The ball went loose and was scooped up by Josh Jones, who had an easy task to go over for an unconverted try.
But to their credit the Tigers battled back and on 48 minutes they had their first points on the board at last as Carney made up for his error by going over in the corner following a great pass by skipper Shenton.
Two minutes later they were over again and it was Carney once more, collecting Luke Gale’s well judged kick over the top following a sweeping move started by Moors in the Cas half.
Gale could not add the conversion, but at 14-8 it was certainly game on and the game seemed to be turning further the Tigers’ way when Saints prop Kyle Amor was sin-binned for a choke tackle on Tansey.
However, Saints upped their game for the 10 minutes the player was off and scored the crucial try as Percival went over following a strong run and offload by Jones.
With Percival adding the conversion it was 20-8 and Jon Wilkin’s drop goal seven minutes from time sealed the hosts’ victory.
Cas did manage a consolation score late on when Tansey went over from a superb reverse kick from Gale. Although Gale added the conversion there was no time for another score and the game ended 21-14.
Scorers - St Helens: Tries Swift, Makinson, Jones, Percival; goals Percival 2; drop-goal Wilkin. Castleford: Tries Carney 2, Tansey; goal Gale.
St Helens: Lomax; Makinson, Percival, Jones, Swift; Burns, Wilkin; Walmsley, Roby, Amor, Greenwood, Vea, McCarthy-Scarsbrook. Subs: Masoe, Flanagan, Thompson, Richards.
Castleford Tigers: Tansey; Solomona, Channing, Shenton, Carney; Finn, Gale; Lynch, Moore, Millington, Holmes, Moors, Massey. Subs: Milner, Cook, Boyle, McMeeken.
Referee: Richard Silverwood.