Castleford Tigers took another step forward at the top of Super League against St Helens with late charges from Mike McMeeken and Tom Holmes to secure one of their most important victories this season while missing players representing over 1000 games of Super League experience.
St Helens bomb a great opportunity
St Helens went into the half time sheds 8 points in the lead, and it looked as though the game was only going one way for the Saints, who looked to claim their third win in a row under new coach Justin Holbrook. However, they fell foul of a few refereeing decisions, and couldn’t stop the Tigers from roaring back and scoring 12 unanswered points in the last 20 minutes of the game. St Helens have been on the up recently, with two contrasting but equally pivotal wins on the bounce, but the new coach syndrome just seems to be wearing off now and it looks as though their season could start going in the opposite direction after this massive missed opportunity; no doubt they’ll be counting down the days until Ben Barba is eligible to play.
Lack of stars fostered more heart for the Tigers
The omission of Gale, Hardaker, Millington, and Shenton only seemed to push Castleford on further as a team, especially in defence. They may have lost over 1000 games of Super League experience, but they managed to shut out St Helens for the whole of the second half in defence. There is also something to be said for the 8,500 people who attended the game, getting behind their side and creating what seemed to be an electric atmosphere at the Mend-A-Hose Jungle. This game was emblematic of the kind of culture that has been created at the club over the past few years with the side thriving on the tough task.
Strength in depth reigns supreme for Castleford
The replacements that came in to cover the rested Castleford players stepped up to the mark and actually had a hand in key moments throughout the game. They thrived on the call up, with Kieran Gill scoring Castleford’s first try and Tom Holmes scoring their last. Despite missing key players, Castleford were a top class outfit on Saturday, and it seems that they finally have the strength in depth needed to win a championship.
McMeeken impresses once again
Still only 23, Mike McMeeken is one of the most exciting prospects in Super League. Castleford did well to pick him out from London Broncos as he now looks to be the best second rowers in England. His performance on Saturday was sublime, scoring a pivotal try to get them back in the game and swing the momentum. There’s no doubt that he’s hitting his straps this season and doesn’t look like stopping anytime soon. It’s no surprise he’s now part of the England set up and he would most likely thrive in the NRL too, if he chose to go down that route.
Castleford Tigers (4) 16
Tries: Gill, McMeeken, Holmes Goals: McShane 2
St Helens (12) 12
Tries: Percival, McCarthy-Scarsbrook Goals: Makinson 2