SAINTS missed a glorious opportunity to keep building pressure on the top four when they slipped up 16-12 at a depleted Castleford side.

Having had the benefit of a 10-day turnaround as opposed to their hosts who doubled up over the Bank Holiday weekend Saints had every right to be fresher.

And in a turnaround from the last time the sides met when Saints were thumped 53-10, this time there was initially more purpose in how they slowed down the free-scoring Tigers.

Saints tackling initially stopped Cas getting on a roll, although that changed when Junior Moors came on.

And having earned good field position Saints were first on the scoresheet when the Cas defence was fooled by a misfired Matty Smith pass which went behind play.

As the eager Tigers raced in for the kill, Mark Percival scooped up and skinned the left edge for the opening try.

Tommy Makinson chipped over the the touchline goal to make it six.

Tigers hit back in the corner through Kieran Gill, but Saints were soon knocking on the door again.

Louie McCarthy-Scarsbrook forced his way over and with Makinson's extras Saints had a 12-4 cushion at the break.

However, all was not good and Saints were guilty of some cardinal sins with the ball, knocking on and fumbling in collision to give away good position and cost them the chance to add to their tally.

Attack wise generally Saints seemed limited to much to the Matty Smith kick to ask questions at the back end of sets.

Although Alex Walmsley's breaks and offloads caused problems, James Roby streaked away a number of times from dummy half and Mark Percival's running was penetrative it was vey much individual efforts and they could never convert the pressure off the back of those surges into points.

Far too often at the ends of sets Saints were reliant on the high ball from Smith on the last which did not deliver this week.

There were chances and the determined Walmsley crossed after a strong run but was pinged for a double movement, while Regan Grace shot in at the corner only to turn round and see an abnormally busy touch judge with his flag up.

It was inevitable that the Tigers, with the crowd roaring and a bee in their bonnet over the fixture scheduling, would strike back.

Moors and Sene-Lefao - until their departures gave them a physical lift which allowed the crafty Paul McShane to show his guile.

When England squad player Mike McMeeken sold Zeb Taia a ridiculous dummy, the Tigers grew a leg.

Although Saints defended repeat sets from drop outs, they finally cracked when a dab through saw the attacking Holmes beat the Saints cover for pace although the touch judge missed a shocking forward pass in the build up.

It was a killer score, because at that stage the clock was now the enemy.

In desperation Saints tried to force plays but those attempts were beaten to send the Cas hordes in the 8,550 gate into rapture.

A poor defeat for Saints in the circumstances and one that pricks the bubble that had been gently building since Justin Holbrook arrived.

It's not all over yet for top four, but the job has just got a whole lot harder.

Castleford: Eden; Gill, Webster, Monaghan, Minikin; Roberts, Holmes; Lynch, McShane, Massey, Foster, Larroyer, Sene-Lefao. Subs: McMeeken, Moors, Hitchcox, Trueman.

Saints: Makinson; Swift, Morgan, Percival, Grace; Lomax, Smith; Walmsley, Roby, Amor, Taia, Wilkin, Knowles. Subs: Lee, McCarthy-Scarsbrook, Douglas, Thompson.