IT WAS a familiar scenario in games involving Castleford Tigers: forward power, pace and clinical finishing – inspired by an outstanding display at full-back – ripped the startled opposition apart.
Unfortunately for Tigers, in round one of Betfred Super League they were on the receiving end as a rampant St Helens side recorded a 46-6 victory which marked them out as a team to watch this year.
After finishing 10 points clear at the top of the table last season, Castleford are not used to taking such punishment and there was a sense of shock in the camp afterwards.
Once that had worn off, it turned into a determination to prove the 2017 Grand Final runners-up – who have scored 12 points and conceded 68 in their last two competitive games – are not the “one season wonder” the Saints fans accused them of being during last Friday’s drubbing.
“We were a million miles off what we should have been,” conceded scrum-half Luke Gale, who is the reigning Man of Steel.
“We were not up to standard.
“Fair play to St Helens, they came out and beat us in every department.”
Saints would have out-classed most teams, but Gale took no comfort from that.
Ben Barba stole the show with a man-of-the-match performance and Gale said: “A lot of them were very good, they out-did us in everything.
“It was disappointing, but the positive is it is only round one and it is probably a bit of a wake-up call.”
Gale admitted he had not seen last week’s horror show coming.
“We thought we were in good shape,” he reflected.
“We went there confident, everything had gone well.
“They beat us to everything, the bounce of the ball and they were far better than us,” added Gale.
“It will be a long week and we have got to get back on the horse on Sunday.”
Castleford begin their home campaign against Widnes Vikings, who were the pre-season favourites to finish bottom of Super League.
“It is a big game,” said Gale, who admitted there were sleepless nights following the loss at Saints.
“It is not what we’ve built over the last three or four years.
“I can’t remember the last time we were beaten in that manner.
“But it is not the end of the world and we will be working hard to fix it.”
Current champions Leeds Rhinos lost at St Helens in round one last year, though only narrowly and were crushed 66-10 away to Castleford in their fourth game, so Gale knows early-season results do not necessarily mean a great deal.
“You sometimes have games like this and it doesn’t shape your season,” the England international stressed.
“But we have got to bounce back. It will be tough in training this week and there will be a few home truths.
“It was a tough night, but it was round one and we need to bounce back on Sunday.
“We will get back into training, review it and take it from there.”