|17th Feb 2006|| Super League||HOME||13528||HT:0-32|
|Age in brackets is at time of match - Total average age for this team is 25. - ** non-playing sub|
MATCH REPORT : Saints romped to a convincing eight-try win against newly-promoted Castleford Tigers as they continued their strong start to Super League XI.
The victory, which was sealed in an explosive first-half performance, was watched by the highest crowd for this fixture since 1953.
The large home crowd were delighted by the free-flowing rugby on show in awkward handling conditions, and also with the successful return to action for captain Paul Sculthorpe and Vinnie Anderson. Sculthorpe in particular has been nursed back to fitness, and the hour he played marks a major landmark in his rehabilitation since his knee operation last August.
In the slightly unfamiliar position of second row, Sculthorpe’s deliberately-compact game was a solid performance in a team that showed signs of more cohesion than last week’s victory at Harlequins.
Although Castleford coach Terry Matterson described Saints’ first-half performance as “white-hot”, it more accurately starkly demonstrated the gulf between the top and bottom of Super League.
It was all too easy as the home side raced into a 32-0 half-time lead, thanks to a willingness to keep the ball alive, regularly stretching the Tigers defence beyond breaking point.
It took just three minutes for Saints to score, Gardner touching down after good work from Long and Lyon. The second, on nine minutes, was more fortuitous, Talau profiting from his alertness after Pryce’s offload had gone to ground.
There was no luck involved in the next try, Meli finishing off a great move in the corner. While Castleford had been implicit in their own downfall with their indiscipline early on, McGoldrick’s hesitancy in kicking from hand was seized upon by Sculthorpe, whose charge-down was collected by Lyon, and Sean Long was on hand to score Saints’ fourth of the evening.
Paul Wellens’s fourth try in two matches piled further misery on the Tigers, compounded minutes later by Craig Huby being sent to the sin-bin for persistent offside.
Maurie Fa’asavalu crashed over before half-time from Cunningham’s pass, before Graham and Long combined at the beginning of the second half for the young prop forward to score.
On returning to their full complement, Castleford got onto the scoresheet when Andy Kain brushed off Lee Gilmour’s tackle that was symptomatic of a number of uncharacteristic individual errors which prevented Saints maintaining the level of fluency they had shown earlier.
Former Saints Gray Viane scored a second try for the visitors following Cunningham’s sin-binning, then Hooper scored Saints’ eighth try after Henderson became the third player to receive the yellow card for technical offences.
It was an anti-climactic end to the game, spoilt by a high penalty count and a tetchy atmosphere which simmered throughout the second half.
Saints: Paul Wellens, Ade Gardner, Jamie Lyon, Willie Talau, Francis Meli, Leon Pryce, Sean Long, Nick Fozzard, Keiron Cunningham, Jason Cayless, Lee Gilmour, Paul Sculthorpe, Jason Hooper.
Subs: James Roby, Vinnie Anderson, James Graham, Maurie Fa’asavalu
Tries: Gardner, Talau, Meli, Long, Wellens, Fa'asavalu, Graham, Hooper.
Goals: Lyon (6/8)
Castleford Tigers: Michael Platt, Damien Blanch, Luke Dyer, Gray Viane, Michael Shenton, Ryan McGoldrick, Andy Kain, Danny Ward, Andy Henderson, Danny Nutley, Richard Fa’aoso, Ben Roarty, Deon Bird.
Subs: Danny Sculthorpe, Richard Fletcher, Craig Huby, Aaron Smith.
Tries: Kain, Viane.
Goals: Kain (0/1), Huby (0/1)
Referee: R Laughton
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