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38 hours ago
Paul Sculthorpe made his long-awaited return to action as St Helens further enhanced their burgeoning engage Super League title credentials with a 44-8 win over Castleford.
The Great Britain captain had been sidelined since last August following major knee surgery which forced him to miss the autumn Tri-Nations series.
Having treaded the long, gruelling path to recovery, Sculthorpe delighted a bumper 13,528 crowd by playing a telling role as eight different players claimed crossed the line for Daniel Anderson?s side.
Six of those tries came in the opening period to ensure the contest was effectively over by the interval as Saints mercilessly swept aside relegation candidates Castleford.
When talented youngster James Graham crossed the line shortly after the restart, the spectre of serious humiliation loomed large for the Tigers.
To their credit, however, Terry Matterson?s side refused to surrender and claimed two tries of their own through scrum-half Andy Kain and Gray Viane to restore some pride - before Jason Hooper put the icing on the cake for Saints.
There was never any prospect of anything other than a resounding St Helens victory from the moment Jamie Lyon orchestrated a superb opening try after just three minutes.
The Australian collected Sean Long?s neat offload and threw a delightful pass out wide to Ade Gardner, who scampered into the right-hand corner for his first second try of the season.
Despite the improbable angle just inches from the touchline, Lyon added the extras before Saints? vibrant approach saw them cross the line again just six minutes later.
A break from stand-off Leon Pryce, making his home debut along with Jason Cayless and Francis Meli, allowed Willie Talau to scamper over the line from 10 metres.
Lyon again converted the touchdown to make it 12-0 but Castleford - with Sculthorpe?s brother Danny in their side following his close-season switch from Wigan - struggled to cope with St Helens? attacking flair.
Saints skipper Sculthorpe soon heaped further misery on his brother after playing his part in a classic move which saw the hosts claim their third try after 18 minutes.
The ball passed through seven pairs of hands in a bewildering array of inter-passing which culminated in Meli grounding in the left-hand corner.
Excellent work from Sculthorpe allowed Long to race clear to cross the line with ease for Saints? fourth try, and moments later full-back Paul Wellens touched down for his fourth try of the season.
Lyon converted to make it 26-0 before Castleford replacement Craig Huby was sin-binned for persistent infringement as the Tigers? frustrations began to get the better of them.
Saints replacement Maurie Fa?asavalu crashed over the line on the stroke of half-time for his side?s sixth try before Lyon added the extras for the fourth time.
Graham crashed home under the posts shortly after the break, Lyon again converting, before Kain?s neat dummy and dart over the line allowed Castleford?s travelling support a smile.
The spirited Tigers continued to press and they exploited the absence of the sin-binned Keiron Cunningham after 61 minutes to cross the line again.
Kain again failed to convert and the impressive Hooper crashed over the line before Lyon claimed his sixth conversion from eight attempts.
St Helens: Wellens, Gardner, Lyon, Talau, Meli, Pryce, Long, Fozzard, Cunningham, Cayless, Gilmour, Sculthorpe, Hooper.
Replacements: Roby, V. Anderson, Graham, Fa?asavalu.
Castleford: Platt, Blanch, Dyer, Viane, Shenton, McGoldrick, Kain, Ward, Henderson, Nutley, Fa?aoso, Roarty, Bird.
Replacements: Sculthorpe, Fletcher, Huby, A. Smith.
St Helens (32) 44.
Tries: Gardner, Talau, Meli, Long, Wellens, Fa?asavalu, Graham, Hooper. Goals: Lyon 6.
Castleford (0) 8.
Tries: Kain, Viane.
Referee: R Laughton (Barnsley)