After todays two point margin wins for Hull KR and the Leeds Rhinos, the remaining crowd were hopefully of an equally close game between the league leaders St Helens and their opponents the Castleford Tigers as they brought down the curtain on the Magical festival of rugby.
The Tigers have the better Magic record with eight from eleven but are four places and twelve points adrift of the Saints who have spend 2019 sweeping aside all before them. A Tigers win would lift them up to fourth but of the Saints maintained their roll then they’d end the weekend six points clear at the top of the pile.
It was a thirty point winning margin for the Saints when the sides met in March, the bookies were tipping the same outcome but by a narrower margin.
It took seven minutes for Saints to score on the counter. Kevin Naiqama broke downfield but was brought doen by Corey Aston some twenty from the line. A fast play saw the ball end up in the hands of Tommy Makinson with space to go down the wing and score in the corner. Coote was unable to convert from wide, Saints up and running.
Spectacularly Regan Grace added the second Saints try off a Zeb Taia pass as he leapt for the corner and got the ball on the ground before being pushed into touch. Coote pulled his conversion wide again, Saints just 8-0 ahead but dominating the game after sixteen minutes.
On seventeen James Roby went straight down the centre cutting through the Tigers defence before passing out to Jonny Lomax to score under the sticks. Coote added an easy conversion for 14-0. It was rapidly becoming the nightmare that the Tigers and their fans had feared.
On twenty-one Theo Fages bounced over the Tigers line off a Coote pass for the fourth Saints try within twenty-two minutes. Coote kicked the conversion for 20-0, the team in red and white in ttal control.
A ‘crusher’ tackle from James Roby on Jake Trueman saw the Saints hooker spend ten minutes in the sin-bin. Within a few seconds Grant Millington profitted when he collected a bouncing grubber off Dominic Peyroux to go in under the sticks. Peter Mata’utia added the conversion to grab a Tigers lifeline.
The Tigers halted, and reversed, the onslaught against the twelve men Saints and what had looked like it might be a cricket score earlier on had been pegged back to just a fourteen point lead at the interval.
Five minutes after the restart Jack Ashworth hit a pass at speed with the Tigers having no chance to stop him from five metres out. Coote added the conversion from under the sticks for 26-6, normal service had resumed.
Just before the hour mark Coote sealed the Saints win taking a delightful Taia offload to score a fifteen metre try, rounding close to the sticks to give himself and easy goal for 32-6, there was no way back for the Tigers.
Naiqama got in on the act on sixty-seven, taking the pass and showing a great turn of speed to go over in the right corner after fending off Mata’utia. Coote couldn’t add the extras from the touchline but with just twelve minutes left the Saints had a thirty point lead.
A Chris Clarkson consolation on seventy-two lifted the Tigers into double figures, but Jordan Rankin was unable to add the extra two. Greg Eden also got in on the act, as Saints eased off the gas, thanks to a long miss-out Jake Trueman pass for the winger to score in the left corner. Rankin put his kick between the uprights for 16-36.
Tigers: Mata’utia (G), Clare, Minikin, Blair, Eden (T), Aston, Trueman, Watts, McShane, Smith, Millington (T), McMeeken, Milner. Subs: Cook, Maher, Rankin (G), Clarkson (T).
Saints: Coote (T, 4G), Makinson (T), Naiqama (T), Costello, Grace (T), Lomax, Fages (T), Walmsley, Roby (T, SB on 29), Lees, Peyroux, Taia, Knowles. Subs: Paulo, Ashworth (T), Smith, Bentley.
Referee: Robert Hicks.