Castleford Tigers could not overcome the loss of several key players to injury as they suffered a narrow defeat at bogey ground St Helens.
Daryl Powell’s men suffered their first defeat of the season as they lost 28-22, but could call on mitigating circumstances as forwards Junior Moors and Grant Millington and half-back Ben Roberts all had to go off injured.
The Tigers twice led in the first half and were level at 16-16 going into the last quarter, but could not hold out against big pressure and their 24-year wait for an away win against Saints goes on.
Cas got off to the better start with Millington producing a strong finish after taking Luke Gale’s pass from close in. Gale added the conversion then kicked a penalty to make it 8-0.
Saints hit back through as Adam Swift squeezed over in the left corner. But Mike McMeeken then powered over from 20 metres out following a superb offload in the tackle by Ben Crooks and Gale’s goal made it 14-6.
Two tries late in the half turned the game on its head, however, with Atelea Vea shooting through a gap on the right and Mark Dawson just managing to get the ball down on the left despite the attention of two Tigers tacklers. With Luke Walsh kicking one of the conversions it was 16-14 to the hosts at the break.
After an even start to the second half Cas levelled when the home team were offside from a Gale kick. The Tigers scrum-half suffered a bang in the move so was unable to kick the goal, but Crooks stepped up to slot the ball between the posts.
Saints scored the first try of the half round the hour mark when Cas failed to deal with a high kick and Louie McCarthy-Scarsbrook was sent galloping over.
Walsh’s goal made it 22-16 and although several home players were then held up close to the line or over it they did manage to score again when Dawson grabbed his second try wide out on the left. Another successful kick by Walsh made it 28-16.
To the Tigers’ credit, though, they kept going and after Lee Jewitt was only just stopped inches short following a determined effort, hooker Adam Milner dived over the line from acting half.
Gale, who by now had recovered from his knock, added the conversion, but it proved the final score on a tough night for Castleford.
Scorers - St Helens: Tries Swift, Vea, Dawson 2, McCarthy-Scarsbrook; goals Walsh 4. Castleford: Tries Millington, McMeeken, Milner; goals Gale 4, Crooks.
St Helens: McDonnell; Makinson, Peyroux, Dawson, Swift; Turner, Walsh; Walmsley, Roby, Amor, Vea, Wilkin, McCarthy-Scarsbrook. Subs: Tasi, Richards, Thompson, Fages.
Castleford Tigers: Dorn; Hitchcox, Crooks, Webster, Solomona; Roberts, Gale; Lynch, McShane, Millington, Moors, McMeeken, Jewitt. Subs: Milner, Massey, Cook, Maher.
Referee: James Child.