Injury-hit Castleford Tigers failed to end their long run of defeats at St Helens as they went down 40-16 at Langtree Park.
The Tigers were without 15 members of their first team squad and lost another in the first 20 minutes with Junior Moors limping off so had plenty of excuses for their second defeat in the Super 8s, but they led until the 29th minute before Saints eventually proved too strong.
Cas made a great start and for almost the first half-hour made Saints work hard.
Despite their patched up side, which saw backs playing as forwards and two academy youngsters on the bench, the Tigers were quick out of the blocks.
Their first attack saw Luke Dorn race through a gap to score the opening try following a fine move straight off the training ground. Luke Gale’s goal from the touchline made it 6-0.
Saints were quick to reply as Adam Swift caught Jon Wilkin’s high kick and found Matty Fleming in support to score. Luke Walsh’s touchline kick levelled it up.
Undeterred, the Tigers stormed back into attack and after Greg Minikin was unlucky to lose the ball close to the home line after a good run down the left they came up with their second try.
Dorn was involved again, taking Rangi Chase’s clever pass to send a high ball over the top to give Ryan Hampshire an easy run to the line for a try that went unconverted.
It stayed 10-6 until the 29th minute when Saints pressure told with Morgan Knowles charging over off the back of a couple of penalties and an extra set granted by referee Jack Smith.
Two more tries followed before half-time when Kyle Amor and Luke Thompson proved unstoppable from close range and further conversions by Walsh made it 24-10.
Cas ended the half with 12 men after Chase was sin-binned for an off the ball trip that was spotted by referee Smith.
They survived the first five minutes of the second half a man down and produced a spirited effort to keep the hosts out.
Both sides made errors and Jordan Turner missed a great chance to score for Saints when unable to collect the ball after it was allowed to bounce between the posts.
Cas were unlucky as Ben Crooks touched down Chase’s grubber kick only to have his effort chalked off by the video referee as earlier in the move Adam Milner had collected the ball in an offside position after it had bounced up and hit Paul McShane in the face.
Saints finally put a good passage of play together as Walsh’s clever kick forced a drop-out and another set was earned as Dorn had to clear another dangerous Walsh kick.
The pressure had to tell and it was Louie McCarthy-Scarsbrook to benefit as he barged over from close range for a try on the hour goaled by Walsh.
After a spell when neither side impressed the hosts produced a rare backs move and Swift raced over for a try in the corner.
Back came Cas to earn a controversial try three minutes from time. Jake Webster’s offload appeared to go forward before being scooped up by McShane who then sent Will Maher over for his first try in the first team. Referee Smith went to the video referee, but the score had to be given as the man in the stand cannot rule on forward passes!
Gale goaled, but the last play of the game saw the Tigers concede again as Alex Walmsley charged over for a try goaled by Jordan Owens.
Scorers - St Helens: Tries Fleming, Knowles, Amor, Thompson, McCarthy-Scarsbrook, Swift, Walmsley; goals Walsh 5, Owens. Castleford: Tries Dorn, Hampshire, Maher; goals Gale 2.
St Helens: Lomax; Owens, Peyroux, Fleming, Swift; Turner, Walsh; Walmsley, Roby, Richards, Wilkin, Greenwood, McCarthy-Scarsbrook. Subs: Amor, Vea, Thompson, Knowles.
Castleford Tigers: Dorn; Hampshire, Crooks, Minikin, Solomona; Chase, Gale; Cook, McShane, Patrick, Webster, Moors, Milner. Subs: Maher, Fitzsimmons, Flynn, Douglas.
Referee: Jack Smith.