Castleford Tigers let an 18-point lead slip as they narrowly missed out on victory against leaders St Helens in another thrilling Super League game at the Mend-A-Hose Jungle.
Daryl Powell’s men looked well set for victory and top spot themselves after a superb display in the first 40 minutes, but with a few big calls going against them they came under pressure after the break and finally cracked to a 78th minute try by Adam Swift to lose 30-28.
It was a near flawless first half from Cas as they scored four tries to one and came within a whisker of two more.
They were in overdrive from the start after Saints’ Jon Wilkin dropped the ball from the kick-off.
From the very first set the Tigers worked space and Jake Webster charged over for the opening try with barely a minute on the clock. Marc Sneyd added the conversion to complete the flying start.
Cas thought they had scored again on eight minutes when Justin Carney grounded the ball after Liam Finn’s high kick had created havoc in the visitors’ defence, but the video referee ruled that Michael Shenton had just touched the ball in leaping high and no try was the result.
But there were no problems with another kick soon after as Carney caught Luke Dorn’s bomb and passed for the unmarked Shenton to score against his former team.
Sneyd’s goal made it 12-0 and within four minutes he was on target again after a third try was scored, Grant Millington touching the ball down from Sneyd’s bouncing grubber kick over the line.
Cas were unlucky again when Craig Huby lost the ball over the line in the act of planting it down for another try and this was the signal for Saints to finally get a foothold in the game.
After a period of pressure the visitors grabbed their first try with Sia Soliola proving unstoppable from close range. Luke Walsh’s conversion made it 18-6.
But after holding out to more pressure it was the Tigers who scored next when Shenton snapped up a loose ball following a wild pass in their own half by Saints and his second try followed by Sneyd’s fourth goal made it 24-6 at half-time. It was little wonder the players went off to a standing ovation.
Cas looked to have made a great start to the second half as well as Dorn crossed the line only for the video referee to go against Cas again, deeming that he had run round his team-mate’s back.
Saints then began their big fightback as defenders backed off Josh Jones and he skilfully set up Jonny Lomax to score a try.
Walsh hit the post with his conversion and did the same again five minutes later following another try for the visitors, Tommy Makinson this time touching down in the opposite corner. This was a more controversial effort, however, as the video referee gave the try although it appeared the winger had lost the ball over the line.
Cas got over their disappointment at the decision when Carney touched the ball down in the corner from another grubber kick and at 28-14 with 20 minutes to play they still looked set for victory.
But Saints did not give up and made it a tense finish after Jordan Turner took Wilkin’s kick to score and Paul Wellens went over after an amazing passing move.
With two points in it and less than three minutes to play Swift then finished off another great passing move and somehow St Helens had snatched the points.
Scorers - Castleford: Tries Webster, Shenton 2, Millington, Carney; goals Sneyd 4. St Helens: Tries Soliola, Lomax, Makinson, Turner, Wellens, Swift; goals Walsh 3.
Castleford: Dorn; Clare, Webster, Shenton, Carney; Sneyd, Finn; Lynch, Clark, Huby, Holmes, Hauraki, Millington. Subs: Milner, Massey, Boyle, Mariano.
St Helens: Lomax; Makinson, Turner, Dawson, Swift; Wilkin, Walsh; Masoe, Roby, McCarthy-Scarsbrook, Soliola, Manu, Jones. Subs: Laffranchi, Walmsley, Greenwood, Wellens.
Referee: Ben Thaler.