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Super League: St Helens stay perfect after edging out Castleford
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St Helens maintained their perfect Super League record in the most dramatic style as an incredible comeback saw them defeat Castleford 30-28.
The Tigers, who themselves had won six of their first seven league fixtures, were in total control for the majority of the clash at the Mend-A-Hose Jungle but came unstuck late on.
Tries from Grant Millington and Jake Webster plus a double from Michael Shenton had put Castleford 18 points up at half-time.
Justin Carney added a fifth try after the break but Jonny Lomax and Tommy Makinson started the Saints rally before Jordan Turner, Paul Wellens and Adam Swift all scored in the final 13 minutes to complete an amazing turnaround.
Wellens' role in the victory was especially fitting as it came on his record-breaking 414th Super League appearance, which he marked by scoring the 1,000th point of his career.
But Saints could hardly have made a worse start, with the returning Jon Wilkin knocking-on from the kick-off and Castleford scoring their first try inside their first set of tackles.
Centre Webster set the scoreboard rolling by taking Daryl Clark's short pass to go through the visitors' defence unopposed and Marc Sneyd kicked the first of his four goals.
The Tigers were well on top and Carney was denied by the video referee for a knock-on but turned provider on 11 minutes when he collected Liam Finn's high kick to send Shenton over.
A grubber kick from Sneyd then bounced awkwardly for Saints and created a try for loose forward Millington. Sneyd's third conversion made it 18-0.
It ought to have been more but prop Craig Huby lost the ball going over the line and Saints clawed their way into the game when Sia Soliola took Wilkin's pass to power his way over the line.
Luke Walsh's goal made it 18-6 but the Tigers struck again nine minutes before half-time when Shenton scooped up a wayward pass from Turner to sprint away unopposed for his second try.
Castleford left the field at half-time to a standing ovation but skipper Wellens, unused throughout the first 40 minutes, led his team out for the start of the second half to break Keith Senior's appearance record.
The Tigers had a third try disallowed when full-back Luke Dorn was ruled to have benefited from obstruction and Saints struck immediately with two tries in seven minutes to give themselves a glimmer of hope.
Full-back Lomax took a return pass from Josh Jones to touch down out wide before Makinson produced a spectacular flying finish, the video referee ruling he had grounded the ball cleanly by the corner post.
Walsh had the misfortune to strike the woodwork attempting to convert both tries to leave his side trailing by 10 points and Castleford looked to have killed the game off just before the hour mark when Carney won the race to Sneyd's kick to the corner.
However, Turner collected Wilkin's kick on 67 minutes to start the fightback, Wellens finished off a thrilling crossfield move and Swift gathered Wilkin's pass to grab the winner four minutes from the end.
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First Utility Super League Table
|5||Hull K R||0||0|
|7||Salford Red Devils||0||0|
|First Utility Super League|
|Thursday 5th February|
|20:00||Widnes vs Wigan|
|Friday 6th February|
|20:00||St Helens vs Catalans Dragons|
|Saturday 7th February|
|15:00||Warrington vs Salford|
|Sunday 8th February|
|15:00||Huddersfield vs Hull|
|15:00||Hull K R vs Leeds|
|15:30||Castleford vs Wakefield|
|Thursday 12th February|
|20:00||Salford vs St Helens|
|Friday 13th February|
|20:00||Hull vs Warrington|
|20:00||Leeds vs Widnes|
|20:00||Wigan vs Huddersfield|
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