Justin Holbrook has sent a chilling message to St Helens’ rivals as the race for the Betfred Super League title starts to hot up.
Holbrook insisted that the players under his wing can still improve despite having only lost two of their 15 league games to date.
His comments came after Thursday night’s 40-18 destruction of Castleford Tigers at The Mend-A-Hose Jungle - the third time this season that Saints have made mincemeat of their West Yorkshire opponents, plundering 122 points in the process, and leaving Tigers’ boss Daryl Powell squirming in his seat on the sidelines.
Powell then walked away from the on field post-match Sky TV interview without so much as a comment in an uncharacteristic manner before calming down and addressing the media at large - attributing the defeat mainly to referee Chris Kendall’s handling of the game and the lack-lustre performance of his player.
But the truth of the matter is that Cas were forced to play second fiddle to a team currently in a rich vein of form and had the normally efficient Danny Richardson been more accurate with his goal kicking - he landed only half of his eight attempts - the final scoreline would have been more embarrassing than it turned out to be.
At the same time Richardson’s half back partner Jonny Lomax emerged as the undisputed man of the match, scoring one try and setting up several others and then when Ben Barba was substituted after suffering a slight knock dovetailed into the full back role - once more showing the versatility of the current Saints’ squad and why they are perched at the top of the table.
Holbrook said: “I thought Jonny was fantastic but a number of other individuals also performed well. I said earlier in the year that all teams will improve as the season progresses and we are no different. We just want to keep getting better.”
He added “The backs are our Ferraris and the forwards are charging up through the middle and that’s the way the game is.”
St Helens now have a 10-day turnaround before their Ladbrokes Challenge Cup quarter-final home tie against holders Hull FC on Sunday, June 3, and will earn a much-needed break following a tough run of fixtures.
“We are enjoying playing and every game is hard, but we just want to keep going the way we are,” said the head coach.
Castleford tries: McMeeken (7 mins), Hitchcox (63 mins), Trueman (68
mins), Holmes (73 mins),
Goals: Ellis (1/4).
Saints tries: Amor (3 mins), Barba (14 mins) , Lomax ( 26 mins),
Peyroux (30 mins), Morgan ( 44 and 51 mins), Fages (59 and 75 mins).
Goals: Richardson (4/ 8)
Referee Chris Kendall
Teams - Castleford: 4. Michael Shenton; 2. Greg Minikin, 17. Alex
Foster, 1. Ben Roberts, 24. Jy Hitchcox; 6. Jamie Ellis, 21. Jake
Trueman; 32. Liam Watts, 9. Paul McShane, 15. Jesse Sene-Lefao, 11.
Oliver Holmes, 12. Mike McMeeken, 13. Adam Milner.
Subs: 8. Junior Moors, 10. Grant Millington, 14. Nathan Massey, 18. Matt Cook.
Saints 23. Ben Barba; 5. Adam Swift, 3. Ryan Morgan, 4. Mark Percival,
19. Regan Grace; 1. Jonny Lomax, 18. Danny Richardson; 10. Kyle Amor,
9. James Roby, 16. Luke Thompson, 17. Dom Peyroux, 11. Zeb Taia, 12.
Subs: 6. Theo Fages, 14. Luke Douglas 13. Louie McCarthy-Scarsbrook,
15. Morgan Knowles.