Tigers down Saints!
Posted: Thursday 12th August 2021 - 9:53 PM
Castleford Tigers defeated reigning Betfred Super League Champions St Helens 20-10 at the Totally Wicked Stadium on Thursday night to secure consecutive away victories and their first league win at Saints for 30 years.
Tigers Head Coach Daryl Powell was able to select a very similar starting 13 that took to the field in the victory over Leeds at Emerald Headingley last time out. The only change in the side being Suaia Matagi coming into the line-up to replace Adam Milner, which meant Daniel Smith moved into loose forward.
Lachlan Coote got the rematch of the 2021 Challenge Cup Final underway and Cas gained more territory in the opening sets of the game with searching kicks from Gareth O’Brien and Danny Richardson putting the hosts under some early pressure.
A penalty given against St Helens gave the visitors the first chance to build an attack inside the 20-metre line. Unfortunately for Cas, they couldn’t take advantage of their solid attacking platform as Grant Millington fumbled forward.
Another penalty with just over five minutes gone presented Castleford their second good chance at the line. A burst forward from Smith got the Fords within a few metres of the line, however, the ball was knocked forward as another Tigers opportunity to go begging.
After soaking up plenty of Tigers pressure, it was Saints who almost took the lead with just over 10 minutes of the match gone. A quick tap and go from Tommy Makinson took Saints from inside their own half to within 15 metres of the try line. Castleford were up to the task however, as they were able to stop the likes of Kevin Naiqama who went closest to scoring.
Moments later the hosts were awarded a penalty in a threatening position on the Tiger’s 10 metre line. Captain James Roby made a dart for the goal line from hooker but couldn’t keep the ball under control as the veteran dived for the line.
With half of the first 40 gone St Helens took the lead. Cas were able to hold the hosts at bay initially after Jonny Lomax, Matty Lees and Alex Walmsley were all tackled just short, but the ball was recycled quickly to the left-hand side, and it was Jack Welsby who acrobatically got the ball down narrowly inside the corner flag. Coote hooked his conversion from out on the touchline wide for the scores to read 4-0.
12 minutes of the first half remaining and Saints were almost in for their second of the night. A high tackle after a break on the near side got them within touching distance of the Cas line and Joel Thompson looked to have barged through to score, but the second row dropped forward at the vital moment.
As the first half got closer to its conclusion, Castleford were the team on the front foot. Multiple penalties close to the St Helens line were just what Powell’s side wanted to keep Saints penned in and they grasped the opportunity with both hands. A switch to the left and some quick hands from Niall Evalds opened up the space for Greg Eden to score his third try in two matches. Richardson did brilliantly to kick his conversion through the posts from out wide and put the visitors into the lead as the half-time hooter sounded.
The second half began with Saints eager to drag themselves back into the lead. A cute chip forward on the last from Coote was caught by Evalds on the right, however, the Cas full-back was tackled out of play. Joe Batchelor threw himself at the try line, although the second rower was held up well by the solid Fords defence.
A knock on inside their own 20 metre line from St Helens got Cas’ tails up for the first time in the second half. The visitors took the play out to the right-hand side as that man Evalds looked dangerous again passing wide to Derrell Olpherts. Olpherts stepped inside stretched as far as he could but was stopped centre metres short, Peter Mata’utia followed up with a pick and go on the final tackle and was also held out.
Cas were gifted a penalty with half an hour to go as a late hit on O’Brien was penalised by referee Ben Thaler. Stand-off Richardson elected to try his luck from the tee to extend the Tigers’ lead and the #7 did just that by slotting his kick.
This period of the fixture got even better for the Fords as they scored their second try through second row Oliver Holmes. Holmes received the ball and swatted Coote out of the way as he raced through and over from just over 15 metres out. Richardson then made no mistake with his conversion to give Castleford a 10-point advantage.
The match then entered a scrapy few minutes as knock ons from both sides saw the quality of the game drop a little, but the intensity was still high as both James Bentley and Peter Mata’utia were both sent to the bin after McShane was caught by a high arm from the Saints interchange.
Saints were reduced to 11 men only a couple of minutes later, this time it was Makinson who hit Evalds late and Thaler produced a red for the winger to be given his marching orders.
Even with the man disadvantage Saints were giving it their all and a six again call five metres from the try line gave them a great scoring opportunity. Some quick thinking from Alex Walmsley as the prop tapped and powered over from close in to cut the deficit. Coote was accurate with his left boot this time to close the game to four points.
St Helens kept pushing as Lomax almost scooted over on the near side, which was followed by a fantastic challenge from Mata’utia on Coote as the Scotland international made a sprint for the line.
With the clock ticking down Saints’ pressure was relentless near the Castleford line; however, a stray pass was picked off by Eden with a minute to go and the winger ran the entire length of the field to secure the Fords’ victory. Richardson put the icing on the cake with a fantastic conversion from the touchline for Cas to win by 20 points to 10 and claim back-to-back away victories!
Full-time: St Helens 10 – 20 Castleford Tigers
St Helens: Coote, Makinson, Naiqama, Percival, Welsby, Lomax, Dodd, Walmsley, Roby, Lees, Thompson, Batchelor, Mata’utia
Interchanges: Bentley, Amor, Paasi, Louie McCarthy-Scarsbrook
Tries: Welsby, Walmsley
Goals: Coote (1/2)
Sin bin: Bentley
Sent off: Makinson
Castleford: Evalds, Olpherts, Mata’utia, Turner, Eden, Richardson, O’Brien, Matagi, McShane, Millington, Holmes, Sene-Lefao, Smith
Interchanges: Watts, Blair, Griffin, Hepi
Tries: Eden x2, Holmes
Goals: Richardson (4/4)
Sin bin: Mata’utia
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