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Cas prop Holmes wants to send out a statement against Saints

Oliver Holmes takes on Jon Wilkin and Ryan Morgan during the recent Challenge Cup tie between the two sides who meet again on Thursday
Oliver Holmes takes on Jon Wilkin and Ryan Morgan during the recent Challenge Cup tie between the two sides who meet again on Thursday
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Castleford forward Oliver Holmes says the visit of Betfred Super League leaders St Helens on Thursday will give his side the chance to send a defiant message to the rest of the league.

The Roses clash comes less than a fortnight after Saints inflicted a 36-18 Challenge Cup defeat on the Tigers after earlier trouncing them 46-6 in the opening game of the season at the Totally Wicked Stadium.

“There are not too many times when you play teams this close together,” Holmes said.

“It’s a bit of a weird one because the previous game is quite fresh in the memory and you need to figure out what to expect from them again.

“It will be a good challenge for us. If we can get a win on Thursday, I think it’s going to be a real statement to the rest of the league.”

Castleford, winners of the League Leaders’ Shield in 2017, are one of three Yorkshire teams - along with Leeds and Hull - seeking to join Saints, Wigan and Warrington in the top four and they boosted their hopes with a season-best performance in a 38-10 win over the Rhinos at the Magic Weekend.

“I think we’ve quietly gone about our way,” Holmes said. “Saints are the talk of the league and Wigan have come good at the minute but, if we can knock this game off, people will stand up and take notice again.

“Warrington have only just lost their first game in 10 so those three Lancashire teams are setting their stall out at the minute. It’s key for us to pick up two points to keep in touch with them.

“That win over Leeds was a long time coming. With and without the ball I thought we were pretty much excellent for the 80 minutes which is what we’ve been trying to get.

“We’ll take a lot of confidence from that game.”

Saints coach Justin Holbrook says that Tigers’ performance suggests Thursday’s game will be far more competitive than their recent meeting.

“Castleford certainly bounced back from their cup loss with a great win on Saturday,” he said.

“They were really dominant over Leeds. They will put up a good test and we know we will have play really well.

“They may play slightly differently with not having Luke Gale but they still have good halves in Jamie Ellis and Jake Trueman - and they showed that at the weekend against Leeds.They are a very dangerous team.”

Most eyes will be on St Helens full-back Ben Barba, Super League’s leading tryscorer, but Castleford coach Daryl Powell is also excited to see the battle of the young half-backs.

Danny Richardson, 21, is keeping former England scrum-half Matty Smith out of the St Helens team while Castleford teenager Jake Trueman, deputising for injured Man of Steel Luke Gale, showed his potential with an outstanding display against Leeds.

“Danny Richardson’s a good young half-back,” Powell said. “He’s a little bit different.

“He’s got some exuberance about him. He runs the ball and his kicking game is good.

“We’ve probably (got) the best two young British half-backs going head to head.

“I thought Jake was outstanding at the weekend, you can see how good he’s going to be. He’s a 19-year-old kid and he’s handling the top level really well.”