SAINTS kicked off their season in style with an impressive display against Castleford Tigers.

It was the Tigers who had ended Saints’ season in heart-breaking fashion last September in golden point extra time in the semi-finals.

But it was all smiles for the Saints tonight as Justin Holbrook’s men recorded an emphatic 46-6 victory over the Yorkshire side.

Word from the Saints camp had been that there has been a stronger emphasis on ball handling in training in the pre-season.

And it looked to have paid off as the home side produced some great attacking rugby, scoring eight tries against last year’s league leaders.

Aussie fullback Ben Barba produced a sparkling display, going over for two tries with Mark Percival scoring a hat-trick on the night, and second-rower Zeb Taia also notching a brace.

It took less than four minutes for Saints to get on the scoreboard as they broke through on the left-hand side, Mark Percival taking Jonny Lomax’s pass before putting star fullback Ben Barba over for Saints’ first try of the season.

And Saints scored again two minutes later, as they pierced the Tigers defence in midfield, with James Roby finding Jon Wilkin who passed inside to Barba who looked like he may go over for a second, before moving the ball left for Roby to find Taia for 10-0.

Saints had a third in the 24th minute after a heavy period of pressure on the Tigers line. Barba’s kick saw big Alex Walmsley stoop down to tip the ball back from over the dead ball line for Lomax to touch it down, the video referee overruling the onfield decision to give it the nod.

Saints’ fourth came after a 40/20 from Lomax as the unaware Castleford defence was caught napping, allowing the ball to roll dead.

Soon afterwards Saints moved it through the hands, Richardson and Barba involved as Mark Percival went over on the left-hand side, Richardson improving it for his third goal of the night.

The visitors enjoyed some possession in Saints’ half late on in the half but the Saints defence held out for a 22-0 half-time lead.

After a scrappy start to the second half, Saints got on the board again in the 55th minute, Percival stepping over for his second of the night.

Saints were reduced to 12 men for 10 minutes as Kyle Amor was sin-binned for knees in at the tackle.

And the Tigers made the extra man tell straight away, Paul McShane going over with Luke Gale adding the extras.

However, the respite for the visitors was brief as Barba showed his class in defence and attack. After a super cover tackle forced Greg Eden into touch, the Aussie was soon over for his second as he was on the end of Taia’s inside ball after good hands from Roby and Fages.

It looked as though Welsh wing Regan Grace had joined in on the scoring act in spectacular diving fashion, only for the video referee to spot he had a hand in touch.

But Saints soon had a seventh as Taia brought up his brace taking Fages’ pass and strolling over under the posts.

And the night was capped off in appropriate fashion, with Barba and Percival involved again to bring up the centre’s hat-trick. The Aussie evaded the tired Tigers’ defence before handing it on to Percival to finish the long-range effort.

Richardson added his seventh conversion to make it 46-6 to wrap up an impressive start to Saints’ season.

Saints: Ben Barba; Tommy Makinson; Ryan Morgan; Mark Percival; Regan Grace; Jonny Lomax; Danny Richardson; Kyle Amor; James Roby (C); Luke Thompson; Dom Peyroux; Zeb Taia; Jon Wilkin
Subsitutes: Theo Fages; Alex Walmsley; Louie McCarthy-Scarsbrook; Morgan Knowles

Castleford: Ben Roberts; Greg Minikin; Jake Webster; Michael Shenton; Greg Eden; Jake Trueman; Luke Gale; Junior Moors; Paul McShane; James Green; Oliver Holmes; Mike McMeeken; Nathan Massey
Subsitutes: Grant Millington; Adam Milner; Jesse Sene-Lefao; Matt Cook

Attendance: 13,108

Referee: James Child