St Helens bounced back from their Wembley heartache with a 4-0 win over Castleford at the Totally Wicked Stadium.
The Saints lifted the League Leaders’ Shield after the game and they are now 18 points above second-placed Warrington.
Justin Holbrook made four changes to his St Helens side that lost to Warrington in the Challenge Cup final at Wembley last time out. Lachlan Coote [concussion], Kevin Naiqama, Theo Fages and Dom Peyroux dropped out of the side.
Jack Welsby, Matty Costello, Danny Richardson and James Bentley came in for the Saints.
Castleford coach Daryl Powell made just one change to his side that beat Huddersfield two weeks ago. Liam Watts replaced Will Maher in the front-row.
The Tigers threatened the St Helens line a number of times in the first half but it was St Helens who led 4-0 at the break thanks to Regan Grace.
The try in the first half from Grace was the only thing to separate the sides in the entire 80 minutes as they lifted the League Leaders’ Shield following a 4-0 victory.
Three on talking points
St Helens to break record
Saints are now 18 points clear at the top of the Super League table and they are set to break a record for the biggest title winning gap since the Rugby Football League’s birth in 1895.
The current record stands at 15 points, which is held by Wigan winning Division One in the 1986/87 season and Leigh did the same in the Championship in 2014.
Saints have a good chance of making history after a special season in Super League. Oh, and thanks to Gareth Walker from the Mirror for providing the stat!
McManus causes a stir
St Helens chairman Eamonn McManus didn’t hold back in his programme notes. He stated that the officiating at Wembley was “incomprehensible”.
McManus added: “How a referee can be involved in a publicity stunt with the CEO of a participating club in the week before a Challenge Cup final defies belief and reason.”
To say that a Hicks and Warrington chief executive Karl Fitzpatrick standing up a death threat was a publicity stunt is a very bold move. His emails will be cluttered on Monday morning, one would suspect.
Castleford have mountain to climb
The Tigers face an uphill battle to make the top five come the end of the regular Super League campaign. They are currently sixth in the table on 28 points, two points behind Hull FC, Wigan, Salford and Warrington who are all on 30 points.
Hull lost to Huddersfield tonight, which did Castleford a favour but Powell’s men face two very tough fixtures in the run-in.
Castleford welcome Hull FC to the Mend-A-Hose Jungle on Thursday and they face a difficult trip to Wigan in the final game of the campaign. It’s a mammoth task for the Tigers – but it would be a magnificent achievement if they got into the play-offs.
Line-ups and ratings
St Helens: Welsby (7); Makinson (6), Costello (7), Percival (7), Grace (7); Lomax (7), Richardson (6); Thompson (7), Roby (7), Amor (6), Taia (6), Ashworth (7), Knowles (7). Subs: Walmsley (7), McCarthy-Scarsbrook (7), Paulo (6), Bentley (7).
Tries: Grace Goals: Richardson 0/1
Castleford: Rankin (7); Clare (6), Mata’utia (6), Blair (7), Minikin (7); Trueman (6), Ellis (6); Watts (7), McShane (6), Millington (6), Holmes (7), McMeeken (6), Massey (6). Subs: Milner (7), Sene-Lefao (6), O’Neill (6), Smith (7).
I couldn’t believe what I read in the matchday programme before the game even started! McManus was certainly bold with his comments and he might pick up a fine in the coming days.
In my opinion, he was wrong to say that Hicks and Fitzpatrick confronting someone who made a death threat towards Hicks was a publicity stunt.
Onto the game, there can’t be much said to be honest. It was a dull affair but St Helens will just be glad to get back to winning ways. As for Castleford, they face a very big task ahead if they want to make the play-offs.
Elsewhere in Super League
Hull FC 12-22 Huddersfield Giants