Castleford Tigers fail to score a point in defeat to league leaders St Helens

Greg Minikin: First half chances. Picture: Matthew Merrick
Greg Minikin: First half chances. Picture: Matthew Merrick

Castleford Tigers went from nilling a team in their last game to being nilled as they suffered a 4-0 defeat in a poor game against St Helens at the Totally Wicked Stadium.

A first half try by Regan Grace proved the difference between the teams in a game in which both defences shone, but the attacks were awful.

In wet conditions the error count was high from both teams with league leaders shield winners St Helens obviously flat after losing the Challenge Cup final at Wembley.

They were there for the taking, but Cas looked like they had never met at times in an attacking display that hugely frustrated their supporters as they witnessed yet another loss against opponents they have not beaten away from home in a league game since 1990.

Adding to the frustration was hearing that play-off rivals Hull had lost to Huddersfield so the Tigers could have been a win away from the play-offs if they had won their match against Saints.

Cas started with plenty of intent in a game they knew they realistically had to win for their chances of reaching the play-offs and came close several times in the opening 10 minutes.

Cheyse Blair was tackled just short on a running play on the last tackle before Greg Minikin had two chances to attack the home line when found in space on the left wing, but chose to cut inside and was tackled on each occasion.

Paul McShane’s grubber kick forced a goal-line drop-out, but Saints survived the pressure.n their first serious attack the hosts came close with Luke Thompson held up over the line.

At the other end James Clare was given his first chance to attack the Saints line, but after being squeezed for room he kicked ahead and the chasing Jordan Rankin could not quite get on the end of it.

St Helens did finally break the deadlock on 31 minutes as full-back Rankin could not stop winger Regan Grace, who showed good pace on the left flank. No goal followed from Danny Richardson and it was 4-0 at half-time.

The entire second half went scoreless, although the Tigers again started the better with Jake Trueman’s grubber forcing a drop-out. From a McShane grubber Jamie Ellis knocked on over the line.

Saints went close as Richardson dashed for the line only to be well tackled by Trueman.

The error count started to mount with both sides unable to keep possession for long, but Trueman tried to make something happen when he chased his own kick ahead and gained a goal-line drop-out for his team.

From the next set Liam Watts tried to get a tricky offload away to Ellis only for Jonny Lomax to take the ball off the Cas man in a tackle with the line looking open behind him.

Minikin made a good break for the Tigers only for the move to be ended when the winger was harshly adjudged to have sent out a forward pass.

Cas could not really force any late pressure and had to defend their line, holding Alex Walmsley up over the line.

Saints thought they had a second try when Lomax raced over only to be pulled back by referee James Child for obstruction - another harsh decision.

It did not matter in the end as St Helens clinched their narrow win on a night when they were then presented with the league leaders shield.

Scorer - St Helens: Try Grace. 
St Helens: Welsby; Makinson, Costello, Percival, Grace; Lomax, Richardson; Thompson, Roby, Amor, Ashworth, Knowles, Taia. Subs: Walmsley, Paulo, McCarthy-Scarsbrook, Bentley.
Castleford Tigers: Rankin; Clare, Mata’utia, Blair, Minikin; Trueman, Ellis; Watts, McShane, Millington, Holmes, McMeeken, Massey. Subs: Milner, Sene-Lefao, O’Neill, Smith.
Referee: James Child
Half-time: 4-0.
Attendance: 10,315