Last years Minor Premiers and losing Grand Finalists, Castleford Tigers, started their 2018 campaign with expectations of another barnstorming season as they travelled to a tough Totally Wicked Stadium to take on St Helens. The last time that the sides met there was just a golden point victory between them as the Tigers miraculously won the game in added time, after being down and out, to make it into the Grand Final. These sides were tipped as the two favourites to finish the season in top spot and to lift the silverware at Old Trafford in October. Nothing would be decided tonight but it would give us an indication of how the two sides may fare in the season ahead. The Tigers were looking for their first league victory in St Helens since 1992, would this be their year to break the hoodoo? Jonny Lomax, Mark Percival and Ben Barber combined for the Saints full-back to finish a seventy metre passing move to dive over by the left corner flag for the Saints opener after just four minutes. Danny Richardson kicked the extras brilliantly from the touchline. The second came just two minutes later when they kept the ball alive deep inside the Tigers ten after another Barba break, allowing James Roby to find Zeb Taia who walked through a massive gap to score. Richardson failed to add the conversion leaving the Saints 10-0 ahead. Saints had the dream start. The Tigers stemmed the tide until the twenty-third minute when Alex Walmsley knocked back a Barba kick through allowing Jonny Lomax to ground the ball while the defenders stood and watched. Richardson added the extras and the Tigers confidence laid in tatters. A Saints forty-twenty was quickly followed by a penalty on the Tigers line and two plays in a delayed Barba pass put Percival over for Saints four of the night and the Rhinos were scoring their tries in pairs, separated by two minutes. Richardson kicked the two for a 22-0 lead which they defended until the interval. Although Saints were the better side in the opening exchanges of the second half the Tigers protected their line until the fifty-fifth minute when Mark Percival crashed over the top of the Tigers tacklers after Saints returned a drop out. Richardson added the goal for 28-0 to put the game beyond the Tigers. On fifty-eight Kyle Amor was sin-binned for a petulant knee in the tackle on Ben Roberts, reducing his side to twelve players for ten minutes. Within a minute of the penalty, Paul McShane took a James Green offload to go eight metres and drop over the line. Luke Gale added the conversion for 28-6. Depite allowing the Tigers over the line the Saints dominated play and on sixty-six it was Ben Barba who burrowed over the line for his second of the night. Richardson kicked the extras for a twenty-eight point lead with ten minutes remaining. Regan Grace went close on seventy-two but had a hand in touch in the act of scoring But four minutes from time Taia carved apart an exhausted Tigers defence to stroll over under the uprights. Richardson added the goal to bring up the Saints forty and see the Tigers fans praying for the full time hooter. On seventy-nine a Ben Barba break down the wing allowed him to find Percival in support to go in for his hat-trick try to add insult to injury. Richardson added the extras as the final hooter sounded for a 46-6 final score. This was a dominant performance from the Saints who brushed away the challenge of the much fancied Tigers with very few problems. It wasn’t that Castleford were bad, but Saints were very good and didn’t let the visitors gather any momentum or spend and quality time with the ball. There were many very positive signs for St Helens with Barba, Percival, Lomax and Richardson all impressive. Daryl Powell will now know that his side are the ones to beat in 2018 and it could be a much tougher competition this year. A brilliant start for Saints and probably better than they could have hoped for. Saints: Barba (2T), Makinson, Morgan, Percival (3T), Grace, Lomax (T), Richardson (7G), Amor (SB on 58), Roby, Thompson, Peyroux, Taia (2T), Wilkin.Subs:Fages, Walmsley, McCarthy-Scarsbrook, Knowles. Tigers: Roberts, Minikin, Webster, Shenton, Eden, Trueman, Gale (G), Moors, McShane (T), Green, Holmes, McMeeken, Massey.  Subs: Millington, Milner. Sene-Lefao, Cook. Referee: James Child. Half-Time: 22-0. Full-Time: 46-6. Attendance: .  
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