Super League: St Helens 46-6 Castleford Tigers

Ben Barba scores St Helens' first try against last year's Super League runners-up Castleford
Ben Barba scores St Helens' first try against last year's Super League runners-up Castleford
Betfred Super League
St Helens (22) 46
Tries: Percival 3, Barba 2, Taia 2, Lomax Goals: Richardson 7
Castleford (0) 6
Try: McShane Goal: Gale

Mark Percival scored a hat-trick as St Helens thrashed last year's losing Grand Finalists Castleford Tigers.

Saints made an explosive start with early tries from Ben Barba and Zeb Taia, added to by Jonny Lomax and Mark Percival before the half-hour mark.

The hosts led 22-0 at the break and Percival added his second before Paul McShane got Castleford on the board.

Barba and Taia grabbed their second tries before Percival completed his treble in the last minute.

The opening game of both sides' Super League seasons brought back memories of last year's dramatic semi-final, which saw Luke Gale's drop-goal secure Castleford a 23-22 victory in golden-point extra time.

Percival's burst down the left-hand side sent Barba free, quickly followed by Taia finishing off a well-worked team move through the middle, as the hosts led 10-0 after seven minutes.

Castleford, beaten by Leeds in last season's Grand Final, were often on the back foot in the first half and clever work from Alex Walmsley - when he palmed the ball back after it looked certain to run dead in goal - set up Lomax, while Percival scored in the corner to extend the home side's lead at half-time to 22 points.

Percival went over from close range for his second of the night, while Castleford's only try was created by James Green, who freed McShane when the Saints had Kyle Amor sin-binned for using his knees in the tackle.

Barba scored his second from close range and Taia strolled in for his second, while Barba unselfishly set up Percival in the last minute to race in for his hat-trick.

St Helens coach Justin Holbrook:

"We're off to a great start. Obviously, Castleford will be disappointed but from our end I couldn't have asked for any more."

On Ben Barba: "He was really good, especially when we were down to 12 men when he comes up with that big tackle and scored in the next play.

"Special players can produce special plays and he did two in two minutes. I always thought Benny was going to produce some things that he's done."

Castleford coach Daryl Powell:

"We were pretty poor. I thought St Helens were excellent and put us under a lot of pressure. I knew they would challenge us, I just didn't expect such a poor attitude from us.

"We had prepared pretty well, it was a little bit of a rude awakening. I thought our pack was appalling, we have a fair bit of work to do over the next few weeks.

"There is no way of dressing it up. Certainly in terms of attitude, commitment and effort, it was near the bottom in my time at the club. It was hugely disappointing, they turned us over big style."

St Helens: Barba, Makinson, Morgan, Percival, Grace, Lomax, Richardson, Amor, Roby, Thompson, Peyroux, Taia, Wilkin.

Replacements: Fages, Walmsley, McCarthy-Scarsbrook, Knowles.

Castleford: Roberts, Minikin, Webster, Shenton, Eden, Trueman, Gale, Moors, McShane, Green, Holmes, McMeeken, Massey.

Replacements: Millington, Milner, Sene-Lefao, Cook.

Referee: James Child (RFL).

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