Castleford Tigers made a shocking start to the new season as they were ripped apart on their bogey ground at St Helens to lose the opening game of the new Betfred Super League season.
Head coach Daryl Powell described the performance as “embarrassing” as the Tigers were behind from the fourth minute and suffered a 46-6 thrashing, conceding eight tries.
The Tigers carried on where they left off in the Grand Final last season against opponents who have been tipped by many to finish top of the pile in 2018.
“Saints put us under pressure and played very well, but I thought we were pretty embarrassing,” said Powell.
“We consistently lost the ruck area early on and Saints ended up pulling us apart on the back of that.
“It was a shocking performance from us. We had to wait until they went down to 12 men to look anything like.
“It was a rude awakening for us, a kick up the backside. We need a fair response.
“We had a shocking attitude and I will find out why in the next few days.”
Castleford’s first half could not have been much worse and their night was summed up right from the kick-off when they allowed the ball to bounce, allowing Saints to go straight on the attack from their own start.
They dropped the ball to end their initial threat, but were ahead from the fourth minute as they ran the ball from their own half with Mark Percival making a break and sending Ben Barba over for the opening try, to which Danny Richardson added a touchline conversion.
A second try followed within two minutes with Barba making the break this time and James Roby taking the move on to send Zeb Taia over.
The game calmed down for a spell, but the Tigers did not threaten to score and only good defence kept Alex Walmsley out as the England prop was held up over the line.
Saints had their third try confirmed by the video referee on 23 minutes as Cas were punished for hesitancy in defence as Paul McShane thought the ball was going to run dead from Barba’s kick. Instead, Walmsley chased and knocked the ball back where Jonny Lomax pounced to touch down. Richardson’s goal made it 16-0.
Three minutes later the hosts were over again, Percival going over from a forward looking pass by Barba. With Richardson goaling again it was 22-0.
Saints did not add any more points in the half, to the Tigers’ relief, but Cas rarely looked like scoring themselves.
Their best moment came when Jake Trueman’s grubber kick hit the post and Barba was forced to touch the ball down over his own line.
Into the second half Cas continued to make errors with their handling and passing as they just could not get their game going, but their opponents also made plenty of mistakes.
A good kick chase saw Cas force a bit of pressure as they bundled Barba into touch, but nothing came of it.
The same was the case for Saints after Richardson’s kick forced a drop-out.
Another drop-out was given following Barba’s grubber when replays showed it was Roby who got the last touch. And from the next set the hosts scored the try that effectively ended any hopes the Tigers had.
Percival produced a strong finish and Richardson’s goal made it 28-0.
The momentum swung slightly when Kyle Amor was sin-binned for use of the knee on Roberts. Within a minute Cas took advantage of their extra man to get some points on the board as McShane collected a great offload by James Green near the line for go over for a try that was converted by Gale.
On the next set Gale’s grubber forced a drop-out, but it summed up their night as Trueman then dropped the kick.
Saints stretched their lead with 12 men as Barba forced his way over the line after taking Taia’s pass.
Regan Grace thought he had scored soon after only for video replays to show that his spectacular dive had failed as he put a hand in touch.
Cas had a chance only for Greg Eden to drop Oliver Holmes’ pass with the line begging.
The hosts finished strongly, however, with Taia charging through a huge gap to score his second try and Percival having a stroll in following another Barba break. Richardson kept up his good goalkicking to complete a 46-6 victory.
Scorers - St Helens: Tries Barba 2, Taia 2, Lomax, Percival 3; goals Richardson 7. Castleford Tigers: Try McShane; goal Gale.
St Helens: Barba; Makinson, Morgan, Percival, Grace; Lomax, Richardson; Amor, Roby, Thompson, Peyroux, Taia, Wilkin. Subs: Fages, Walmsley, McCarthy-Scarsbrook, Knowles.
Castleford Tigers: Roberts; Minikin, Webster, Shenton, Eden; Trueman, Gale; Moors, McShane, Green, Holmes, McMeeken, Massey. Subs: Millington, Milner, Sene-Lefao, Cook.
Referee: James Child.