Castleford Tigers let a 10-point lead slip as their winning run ended with a 40-24 defeat to St Helens at a red hot Wish Communications Stadium.
Daryl Powell’s men looked good for their third straight victory when they started strongly and were causing their visitors problems all round the pitch in the opening half.
But after conceding a try just before half-time they went on to lose their way after the break and were made to pay for several missed try chances with Saints scoring 28 second half points.
Castleford were kicking themselves at not being more than 16-12 in front at half-time after dominating much of the play and producing some sparkling attacking rugby in the sunshine.
They were ahead within six minutes as Richard Owen was sent racing clear by Rangi Chase and Grant Millington after a break from half-way.
Jordan Tansey came close to a second score following some brilliant passing rugby down the right again only to be brought back for a forward pass by referee George Stokes.
But on 18 minutes it was 10-0 when Chase cleverly switched play and Tansey showed good footwork to get over the line for a try converted by Kirk Dixon.
St Helens hit back with virtually their first visit into the Cas 20 as former Tigers loan player Gareth O’Brien produced a smart chip over the home defence and the ball was collected by Tom Makinson who raced clear.
O’Brien’s conversion narrowed the gap to four points, but within three minutes Cas scored again. After Tansey had only just been tackled inches from the line Chase sent out a kick that hit the post and bounced kindly for Weller Hauraki to gather and dive over. Dixon added the goal.
Dixon got to another Chase kick only to knock-on near the line and the Tigers were unable to add to their score in the opening half despite further pressure which saw Chase taken down inches short of the line.
In the last minute they were made to pay for their missed opportunities when Josh Jones broke from his own half and Jonny Lomax swept through tired looking tackling to race clear for a try converted by O’Brien.
It was Saints who made the better start to the second half after being gifted possession in the home half with Luke Thompson’s try and O’Brien’s goal putting the visitors in front for the first time.
They were not to lose it and cashed in again when Jordan Turner was next over for a converted try.
Tigers did hit back with Justin Carney producing a typically forceful run for a try on his return from suspension, but it was effectively game over when Makinson collected two more tries for Saints, one with a near full length of the pitch run after intercepting Tansey’s pass.
Chase went over for a fine solo effort near the end only for the visitors to have the final say as Alex Walmsley powered over for a try converted by O’Brien.
Scorers - Castleford: Tries Owen, Tansey, Hauraki, Carney, Chase; goals Dixon 2. St Helens: Tries Makinson 3, Lomax, Thompson, Turner, Walmsley; goals O’Brien 6.
Castleford: Tansey; Owen, Shenton, Dixon, Carney; Hauraki, Chase; Boyle, Milner, Huby, Thompson, Millington, Massey. Subs: Walker, Clark, Holmes, Mason.
St Helens: Lomax; Makinson, Turner, Jones, Meli; Wilkin, O’Brien; Puletua, Roby, Clough, Thompson, Manu. McCarthy-Scarsbrook. Subs: Walmsley, Wellens, Richards, Greenwood.
Referee: George Stokes.