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Saints 38 Castleford 16
Saints produced some sparkling rugby to bounce back to winning ways against Castleford at a sun-baked Langtree Park.
It was the perfect – and only – response after last week’s drubbing in France and with Wigan losing at Wakefield it moved them back to the top of the table.
Saints took their chances well, with Paul Wellens commanding at full back and Luke Walsh orchestrating the plays well in tandem with Lance Hohaia.
Saints went in at half time 22-4 – a score which reflected their ability to take their chances rather than the pattern of the first half.
For parts of the opening 40 the Tigers pack looked dominant and controlled the ruck area, but Saints rolled with the punches and countered.
The homesters opened the scoring with a wingman’s try out of the top drawer with Mark Flanagan’s smart pass unleashing Tommy Makinson, who weaved in and out before slipping the last tackle to touch down.
Walsh missed the conversion and Cas began to get on top.
After some forceful running by the Cas pack, the visitors finally got their reward when after Frank Mariano had punched the initial hole, they moved the right where Kirl Dixon dashed in at the corner.
So it was something against the run of play when Saints produced a perfectly executed move straight off the training ground with full back Paul Wellens sidestepping his way over from Lance Hohaia’s pass.
After a good period of Saints pressure, ended when Walsh teed up a fine pass for Jordan Turner to run hard and straight on to.
And just before the break good pressure and perseverance saw Saints stretch their lead when Makinson put pressure on James Clare, who tossed the ball away and that was gratefully accepted by Wellens, who did the rest.
Saints were in no mood to let that lead slip and Mark Percival chipped and re-gathered to stretch the lead to 28-4 seven minutes after the restart.
And to show their determination to fight for every place, Walsh chased his own kick wide for Makinson and kept going after the wing was taken out chasing the ball. Walsh got there to ground the ball before it went dead.
With 13 minutes to play a fine Wellens break set up the position for the ball to be transferred left for Percival to dash in.
Cas never gave up and were rewarded in the closing minutes with tries from both halves Mark Sneyd and Luke Dorn.
A late Walsh penalty wrapped up the scoring.
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