St Helens boss Justin Holbrook heaped praise on long-serving hooker James Roby after he inspired an impressive 26-12 win at Castleford in the Super 8s opener.
The Tigers had not lost at Wheldon Road in just over 12 months but Roby showed his enduring class with a second-half brace to secure a victory which moved Saints into the top four.
Zeb Taia and Jonny Lomax were also on target for a St Helens outfit who continue to show significant improvement under Holbrook.
The Australian arrived in May after Keiron Cunningham was sacked and has presided over a steady revival which could yet end up with a Grand Final appearance at Old Trafford in October.
Head coach Holbrook said: “It was always going to be a tough game, we knew that and we expected it, so to come here tonight and get the win, I couldn’t be happier.
“No matter how much homework you do, Castleford are still a very dangerous side and it was up to our boys to continually make the right decisions in defence.
“We did that and it was really pleasing, plus James Roby is as a good a nine as I’ve seen.
“He’s not just tough and creative, he’s also fit, and he’s a great guy.
“He loves playing rugby league and they are the type of players you need when you have a tough assignment like we had tonight.
“He was fantastic and I’ve been happy with how we’re playing and training. I think we’re getting better, that’s for sure.”
Rookie scrum-half Danny Richardson was withdrawn with concussion at the end of the second half and replaced by fit-again Matty Smith.
But Holbrook added: “He had a bit of concussion and a swollen eye, but he could have gone back on.”
Castleford boss Daryl Powell refused to be downhearted with his side’s loss as they look to wrap up the League Leaders’ Shield in their coming games.
Powell said: “I don’t think there was much between the teams, but they defended pretty well and there were some key turning points in the game.
“It was pretty tight leading up to half-time, but I thought Saints played really well and I expected them to.
“We haven’t had this feeling for a fair while, but I think it will probably help us moving down the track.
“Our effort was fantastic and the intensity of the game was great but they were the better side.
“I just said to the boys ‘I think we will learn from this’ and it could help us.’”