Magic Defeat For The Tigers
Posted: Sunday 26th May 2019 - 7:49 PM
There was to be no Magic Weekend joy for Castleford Tigers this year, as their trip to Anfield ended in a 36-16 defeat to a red-hot St Helens side.
The Tigers’ recent Magic record has been sensational, but the league leaders proved far too strong on Sunday, with an early barrage of tries doing the damage in the first half.
With Saints in such wonderful form, a fast start from the Tigers was always going to be vital.
On the face of it, Castleford did indeed explode out of the blocks, forcing two repeat sets in the opening few minutes. However, the early stranglehold didn’t equate to points.
Instead, it was St Helens who grabbed the opener against the run of play. After a Kevin Naiqama run from deep, the Tigers couldn’t quite scramble fast enough to avoid an overlap on the right flank and a walk-in for Tommy Makinson.
Following this first score, Castleford maintained some of their momentum at Saints’ end of the field. But, it was the same story as the Tigers’ lack of clinical edge came back to bite them.
In comparison, St Helens were untouchable in the final third. It seemed that every time the league leaders had good ball, they got over the whitewash. Before the 20-minute mark, Saints had a 20-point lead, thanks to further tries from Regan Grace, Jonny Lomax and Theo Fages.
Things could have got ugly really quickly from that point, but the Tigers reacted. Jordan Rankin replaced Cory Aston to give the black and amber a different dimension, and then the opening emerged as James Roby was sent to the sin bin for a nasty-looking crusher tackle on Jake Trueman.
With the man advantage, the Tigers once again began attacking the Saints line and, this time, they had some luck. A ricocheted kick went straight into the path of a grateful Grant Millington, and the Aussie forward didn’t need asking twice where the try-line was. Pete Mata’utia converted, giving the Tigers a sniff of the Saints’ lead before the interval.
Getting anything from the game in the second 40 minutes was always going to be a challenge, and the mountain got that much higher five minutes into the half as Jack Ashworth crossed under the posts untouched.
The Tigers stiffened up in defence in the middle stages of the half, as the St Helens barrage continued. However, the white-hot Saints take some stopping when they’re on song, so it came as little surprise when Lachlan Coote crossed after taking a smart offload.
That score pushed Saints into an unsurpassable 26-point lead, and that was increased further with ten minutes to go as Naiqama touched down out wide.
Castleford did get chance for two consolations late on as Chris Clarkson and Greg Eden dotted down, but it made very little difference to the final result as Saints ran out worthy winners at Anfield.
Full Time: Castleford Tigers 16-36 St Helens
Mata’utia, Clare, Minikin, Blair, Eden, Trueman, Aston, Watts, McShane, Smith, Millington, McMeeken, Milner
Cook, Maher, Rankin, Clarkson
Tries: Millington, Clarkson, Eden
Conversions: Mata’utia (1/1), Rankin (1/2)
Makinson, Naiqama, Costello, Grace, Lomax, Fages, Walmsley, Roby, Lees, Taia, Peyroux, Knowles
Paulo, Ashworth, Smith, Bentley
Tries: Makinson, Grace, Lomax, Fages, Ashworth, Coote, Naiqama
Conversions: Coote (4/7)
*Match report by Ross Williams, signing off
**Photography by Melanie Allatt
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