Castleford Tigers lose out to leaders St Helens again

Mike McMeeken, who scored Castleford Tigers' first try.
Mike McMeeken, who scored Castleford Tigers' first try.

There was no third time lucky for Castleford Tigers as they suffered at the hands of Betfred Super League leaders St Helens once again at the Mend-A-Hose Jungle.

After losing to Saints in the Ladbrokes Challenge Cup two weeks ago they went down 40-18 and were given a lesson in finishing in their second Super League loss of 2018 to the table toppers.

The Tigers did manage to score four tries, but conceded eight as their defence was nowhere near as good as last Saturday at Magic Weekend.

A strange first half ended with Saints well in command at 22-4, but they were allowed a controversial try while the Tigers had two scores - correctly - ruled out by the video referee after on-field try decisions. They go the other way and it would have been a tight contest.

The visitors were ahead from the second minute when Cas were a little slow getting off their line and Kyle Amor took full advantage to score from close range. Danny Richardson converted.

The Tigers were quick to reply, however, as Liam Watts attacked the Saints line and his pass was collected by Mike McMeeken, who barged over from close range. Surprisingly Jamie Ellis could not convert from close to the posts.

The hosts were looking sharp in attack and forced the first goal-line drop-out with Paul McShane’s grubber kick.

Their pressure came to nothing, though, as Ben Barba came up with another of his long range tries for the visitors.

It was a hugely controversial try as referee Chris Kendall allowed it although it looked like Adam Swift had knocked on Jake Trueman’s high kick. The ball was picked up by Barba and he did not asking whether it was play on or not as he raced 90 metres down the touchline for his usual score against the Tigers. Richardson’ goal made it 12-4.

Cas still looked dangerous in attack as Trueman’s high kick was dropped by Swift to lead to another drop-out and Ben Roberts - playing at centre - was held up over the line.

Greg Minikin then raced for the line, but dropped the ball over the line to have his effort ruled out by the video referee.

Four minutes later St Helens scored their third try as Jonny Lomax raced over after brushing through an Oliver Holmes tackle.

Lomax then turned provider with a nice short pass to send Dominique Peyroux over and it was 22-4.

More bad luck for the Tigers followed when Minikin got on the end of a great move involving McMeeken and Alex Foster, but this time put a foot on the sideline as he tried to get the ball down in the corner. Again the video referee came up with the no try judgement after Kendall had sent it up as a try.

There were no more scores before half-time, although Zeb Taia was held up over the line for the visitors and Luke Douglas dropped the ball next to the line.

Cas needed a good start to the second half, but did not get it as Ryan Morgan combined with Swift to go over down the visitors’ right.

Saints scored again when Lomax’s brilliant break had home defenders scattered and his long pass sent Morgan over again.

Ellis’s high kick forced a Saints drop-out, but nothing came of the next attacking set. When the visitors then lost the ball it was quickly sent out wide only for Minikin to lose the ball again over the line, under pressure.

St Helens showed how to take chances soon after when a break down the left saw Regan Grace send Theo Fages over.

That was cue for a Tigers revival, however, with three tries in nine minutes as they made the score more respectable.

First, Jy Hitchcox went over after Kyle Amor had lost the ball and Paul McShane swiftly sent the ball over the winger.

Then, Trueman backed up more good work by McShane and Ellis kicked his only goal of the night.

Finally, Holmes showed good pace to race over form nearly 40 metres out off McMeeken’s pass.

However, Saints had the last word as another Lomax break led to a second try for Fages and Richardson’s kick took the final score to 40-18.

Scorers - Castleford: Tries McMeeken, Hitchcox, Trueman, Holmes; goal Ellis. St Helens: Tries Amor, Barba, Lomax, Peyroux, Morgan 2, Fages 2; goals Richardson 4.

Castleford Tigers: Shenton; Minikin, Roberts, Foster, Hitchcox; Ellis, Trueman; Watts, McShane, Sene-Lefao, Holmes, McMeeken, Milner. Subs: Moors, Millington, Massey, Cook.

St Helens: Barba; Swift, Morgan, Percival, Grace; Lomax, Richardson; Amor, Roby, Thompson, Peyroux, Taia, Wilkin. Subs: Fages, McCarthy-Scarsbrook, Douglas, Knowles.

Referee: Chris Kendall.

Half-time: 4-22.

Attendance: 6,969.