Magic was in short supply as Castleford Tigers were second best against St Helens in the last game of rugby league’s Dacia Magic Weekend.
Daryl Powell’s men were made to pay for a poor first 21 minutes when they found themselves 20 points down.
They kept going in the remainder, but suffered a 36-16 defeat - the first time they have lost at Magic Weekend since Powell took over as head coach.
Cas made a bright start, but as has happened in recent meetings with Saints they quickly found themselves behind on the scoreboard.
Greg Minikin made a great break in the first minute and then almost got on the end of a Jake Trueman grubber kick as a goalline drop-out was earned.
Another Trueman kick forced a second drop-out, but the early pressure came to nothing and St Helens scored first as Kevin Naiqama raced downfield after intercepting Grant Millington’s attempted offload near the Saints line.
Cory Aston and Trueman did well to get back to stop Naiqama, but from a quick play-the-ball Lachlan Coote sent Tommy Makinson over for the opening try.
Saints then scored three tries in seven minutes to suddenly open up a 20-0 lead as the Tigers defence melted against some fast attacking play.
Regan Grace went over in the corner from Zeb Taia’s offload near the line, Jonny Lomax backed up James Roby’s typical scurry from acting-half and Theo Fages benefited from Coote’s run on the last tackle for a further score.
The scoring slowed down after this period with Saints not managing to put a further point on the board in the rest of the first half.
They were hampered by losing Roby for 10 minutes after he was sin-binned for a crusher tackle on Trueman.
Within a minute of the yellow card, Cas scored a try as Grant Millington went over after Jordan Rankin’s kick bounced up off Dominique Peyroux. The conversion by Peter Mata’utia made it 20-6 and that was how it stayed to half-time.
Cas could not keep up their better work at the start of the second half as they were immediately put under pressure and conceded another try with Jack Ashworth finding an alarming gap near the line to run through for a try converted by Coote.
James Clare came close in a rare Tigers attack, but was tackled just short of the line after collecting Mike McMeeken’s back of the hand pass.
But there was no stopping Saints soon after as Coote charged over from Taia’s offload.
Cas did force another drop-out when Clare almost got on the end of a high kick, but they were found wanting in defence as Naiqama raced away for another St Helens try.
With the game over as a contest the Tigers did save some face with a couple of late tries. Chris Clarkson finished off a nice move involving Trueman and Mata’utia then Greg Eden took Trueman’s floated pass to score in the corner. Rankin kicked a touchline conversion to complete the scoring at 36-16, but St Helens were always comfortable winners.
Scorers - St Helens: Tries Makinson, Grace, Lomax, Fages, Ashworth, Coote, Naiqama; goals Coote 4. Castleford: Tries Millington, Clarkson, Eden; goals Mata’utia, Rankin.
St Helens: Coote; Makinson, Costello, Naiqama, Grace; Lomax, Fages; Walmsley, Roby, Lees, Taia, Peyroux, Knowles. Subs: Paulo, Ashworth, Smith, Bentley.
Castleford Tigers: Mata’utia; Clare, Minikin, Blair, Eden; Trueman, Aston; Watts, McShane, Smith, Millington, McMeeken, Milner. Subs: Cook, Maher, Clarkson, Rankin.
Referee: Robert Hicks.