St Helens drew first blood in the Super 8s as they became the first team to defeat Castleford Tigers at the Mend-A-Hose Jungle this season.
Resurgent under Justin Holbrook, Saints recorded their fifth win in six games to move temporarily into the top four and strengthen their Grand Final chances.
After winning just five of their first 13 games at the start of the Super League season, nobody would have thought St Helens would be where they are now and on this performance they look good to go all the way.
And man-of-the-match James Roby proved he is still one of the best hookers in the league with two tries and completing over 60 tackles.
It was a competition of the defensive lines in the opening exchanges as both sides remained scoreless for the first 15 minutes.
St Helens managed to weather an early Castleford storm by defending three consecutive sets on their own line and then proceeded to open the scoring through Zeb Taia.
Theo Fages brilliantly pulled Ben Roberts out of the line and sneaked the ball to Taia who was supporting him in the hole left by the Tigers man. Taia then steamed through a soft attempted tackle by Zak Hardaker and dotted down under the posts.
Mark Percival added the extras and then slotted over a penalty after Michael Shenton had slowed Luke Thompson down at the ruck.
They almost extended their lead when Kyle Amor put the ball down but Tommy Makinson was adjudged to have knocked on in the build up.
And the video referee was called into action again three minutes later when Jy Hitchox thought he had got Castleford’s night up and running, but Phil Bentham ruled no try for offside.
Castleford kept threatening, relentlessly attacking the Saints line but the away side defended resolutely and the league leaders could not find a way onto the scoreboard.
St Helens’ defence was eventually broken in the eighth minute of the second half when Adam Milner, on his return to the side after a two-game absence, burrowed his way under the posts. Luke Gale reduced the arrears to just two points with the conversion.
But Saints are a different side now under Holbrook, and where they could have succumbed to Castleford’s comeback threat they instead restored their eight-point lead.
Talisman Roby found himself on the end of a St Helens charge up field and despite Oliver Holmes best efforts he couldn’t stop the hooker.
No matter what the Tigers threw at Saints, they were equal to every challenge and play – smothering any Castleford threat.
And they not only could not find a way through the away side’s defence, but they couldn’t stop them in attack either. Jonny Lomax latched onto a deft Matty Smith grubber kick to put his side on their way to securing just a third away win of the season.
Credit to Castleford though, they didn’t give up and Joel Monaghan scored a spectacular try in the right-hand corner to set up a grand-stand finish as Gale scored a wonderful touch-line conversion with eight minutes to go.
But it was too little too late and Roby topped off a sensational individual performance in going over for his second try of the night in the last five minutes.
It was an all-round performance from Saints as they defied Castleford a 13th consecutive win and boosted their own top-four hopes in the process.
Castleford: Hardaker, Monaghan, Minikin, Shenton, Hitchcox, Roberts, Gale, Millington, McShane, Sene-Lefao, Foster, McMeeken, Massey. Interchange: Holmes, Milner, Cook, Patrick.
St Helens: Lomax, Makinson, Morgan, Percival, Grace, Fages, Richardson, McCarthy-Scarsbrook, Roby, Thompson, Taia, Peyroux, Wilkin. Interchange: Smith, Walmsley, Amor, Knowles.