Yates’ View: Tykes taken to the cleaners

Ben Barba was a star performer in Saints demolition of bookies favourites Castleford
Ben Barba was a star performer in Saints demolition of bookies favourites Castleford
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THIS isn’t the right time of the year to go overboard and eugolise about Saints’ opening day demolition of Castleford Tigers - the bookies’ favourites to be crowned 2018 Super League champions.

Savour the 46-6 victory at the Totally Wicked Stadium on Friday and the grand manner it was achieved, but one swallow doesn’t make a summer and there is still a great deal of water still to flow under the bridge before Saints - or any other club - can talk in terms of silverware..

Understandably, there will be initial optimism among the fans on the evidence of an 80 minute master class in which the Tykes were taken to the cleaners.

Tigers’ boss Daryl Powell described his side’s attitude as ‘shocking’ and the performance ‘embarrassing’ but the truth of the matter is that sizzling Saints made them look decidedly second rate.

Whether Justin Holbrook’s outfit can consistently repeat this kind of exhilarating display, or even improve as the season goes on, is a matter of conjecture but the building blocks are in place and an exciting nine months seem on the cards.

It was also fitting that on a night the match was dedicated to the memory of legendary club winger Tom van Vollenhoven, who died last year, Saints produced the kind of flamboyant performance of which he would have been proud.

At times it was a throwback to the late 1950s and 1960 when the Springbok winger and his team-mate thrilled crowds from St Helens to Humberside.

There is no doubt Holbrook is set to shake off the shackles of one or two previous regimes at the club, allowing the players more freedom to express themselves as individuals without it being detrimental to team organisation.

He said: “I thought we were fantastic tonight

“The boys made a great start and while Cas will be disappointed from our perspective we couldn’t have asked for more.

“We didn’t expect to win by such a big margin but when round one of the competition arrives you need to perform and that’s what we did.”

Full back Ben Barba scored two of Saints’ eight try haul - and the head coach was quick to praise his overall contribution which included a vital tackle when Saints were reduced to 12 men with the sin-binning of Kyle Amor in the second half.

“Special players produce special plays and Ben falls into that category,” said Holbrook.

“I didn’t predict he would have such a good night but I always said her would do some special things.

“Ben has had a good pre-season and came back to training two-and-a-half weeks early, too. If you do those kind of things,you get the rewards, don’t you?

“He also got our left edge firing and then slotted in nicely when we lost Ryan Morgan at the interval.”

Holbrook may have raised one or two eyebrows when he left vastly experience scrum half Matty Smith out of his starting 17 and admitted it wasn’t an easy decision .

He said: “Yes, it was tough and so, too, was leaving out other players but those on the park delivered for us on the night.

“Matty is a competitor and naturally wants to play but has shown a great attitude and I am sure he will keep rocking on.”

Saints tries: Percival 3, Barba 2, Taia 2, Lomax. Goals: Richardson 7/8.

Cas tries: - McShane. Goal: Gale.

Teams - Saints: Ben Barba, Tommy Makinson, Ryan Morgan, Mark Percival, Regan Grace, Johnny Lomax, Danny Richardson, Kyle Amor, James Roby,Luke Thompson, Dominque Peyroux, Zeb Taia, Jon Wilkin.

Subs: Theo Fages, Alex Walmsley, Louie McCarthy-Scarbrook, Morgan Knowsley.

Cas: Ben Roberts, Greg Minikin, Jake Webster, Michael Shenton, Greg Eden, Jake Trueman, Luke Gale, Junior Moors, Paul McShane, James Green, Oliver Holmes, Mike McMeeken, Nathan Massey

Subs: Grant Millington, Adam Milner, Jesse Sene-Lefao, Matt Cook.

Referee: James Child.