Castleford Tigers produced an encouraging display in their final warm-up game as they came away from St Helens with a 22-6 victory.
Daryl Powell’s men raced in for four tries and were strong defensively as they took the chance to end their long wait for an away win of any sort against Saints.
The Tigers fielded their strongest possible side, with their 19-man squad including a couple of youngsters on the bench in Luke Million and Kieran Gill, and they made the better start.
With only two minutes on the clock Rangi Chase went over for the opening try after the hosts had failed to deal with a high kick from Luke Gale who got back on the ball and spread it wide. Gale’s conversion made it 6-0.
St Helens were then held at bay for a spell while Michael Shenton went close to scoring for the Tigers when losing the ball close to the try-line.
A second try came on 25 minutes when Cas moved the ball from a tap following a penalty and it went to full-back Zak Hardaker who found a gap in the home defence to get the ball down over the line. Gale’s kick hit the post and it stayed 10-0 to half-time.
Cas suffered an injury scare with Mike McMeeken having to go off, but he was able to come back onto the pitch in the second half to the relief of fans and the coaching staff who are already without two injured forwards in Oliver Holmes and Larne Patrick.
The Tigers increased their lead early in the second half as a repeat set earned by Chase’s grubber kick over the line reaped rewards with Gale sending back rower Jesse Sene-Lefao over for a try converted by Gale.
Jake Webster then looked to be streaking clear only to be called back for a forward pass ruled against Gale.
More pressure followed from Cas with Greg Eden, playing on the wing, producing some inventive play to kick the ball towards the in-goal. He could not quite get to his own kick, but Saints’ Tommy Lee was forced to concede a drop-out from which the visitors scored again.
Saints gave away a penalty and from the tap Grant Millington powered over, taking three home defenders with him over the line.
Gale’s goal made it 22-0 and that was the last Castleford score although they remained largely in control with their defence showing some good improvement on last year.
St Helens did finally score five minutes from time when Eden acrobatically tried to keep the ball in play following Danny Richardson’s attempted 40-20 kick, but Adam Swift pounced on the loose ball to score a try converted by Mark Percival.
Scorers - St Helens: Try Swift; goal Percival. Castleford: Tries Chase, Hardaker, Sene-Lefao, Millington; goals Gale 3.
St Helens: Lomax; Makinson, Fleming, Percival, Swift; Richardson, Fages; Douglas, Roby, Walmsley, Greenwood, Peyroux, Wilkin. Subs: Amor, Walker, Thompson, Lee, Knowles, Ashworth, Grace, Cunningham.
Castleford: Hardaker; Minikin, Webster, Shenton, Eden; Chase, Gale; Lynch, McShane, Springer, Sene-Lefao, McMeeken, Massey. Subs: Millington, Million, Moors, Cook, Monaghan, Gill.