Castleford Tigers look too tame to be able to stop St Helens
Saints value to cover skinny handicap line
Betfred Super League
Sky Sports Arena, 7.45pm Thursday
Punters don’t have to delve too far back into the formbook to get a handle on Castleford’s Betfred Super League clash with St Helens.
Only 12 days ago, the teams met in the Ladbrokes Challenge Cup at the Jungle and Saints coasted to a 36-18 win thanks, in the main, to a Ben Barba hat-trick.
The Tigers could legitimately claim that two long-range tries from the visitors gave the scoreline a more lopsided look than may have been the case but the league leaders were always in control.
That day Saints went off eight-point favourites and it’s interesting to note that bookmakers have halved that handicap for this rematch.
It seems the layers have been swayed by the Magic Weekend matches when Cas routed champions Leeds 38-10 and St Helens turned in a lackadaisical effort in a 38-18 victory over struggling Widnes.
It was still a fifth successive win for Justin Holbrook’s team, who have won 14 of their 16 matches this year.
One of the key factors has been consistency of selection and the Saints boss makes just one change to last weekend’s successful side with prop Kyle Amor available again after suspension.
Cas counterpart Daryl Powell is able to recall Ben Roberts after four matches out with a calf problem but is still without a number of top players including playmaker Luke Gale, last season’s top tryscorer Greg Eden and centres Jake Webster and Joe Wardle.
The Tigers topped the table in 2017 but they’re currently fifth and their record against the teams above them is mediocre at best.
Their five fixtures against St Helens, Wigan, Warrington and Hull have produced a solitary win and four defeats, including a 46-6 caning at Saints on the season’s opening night.
Cas have won just one of their last four meetings against these opponents and that was a 23-22 extra-time triumph in last year’s playoff semi-final.
Saints have won the other three by double-digit margins so being able to back the league leaders at evens to win by more than an unconverted try looks a fair bet.
As ever, Ben Barba’s name will adorn plenty of betting slips. The brilliant Australian is 3-1 to add to his five televised man-of-the-match awards and 4-5 to increase his seasonal tally of 19 tries in 14 appearances.
The full-back has touched down in ten of those games with five braces and two hat-tricks included in those amazing figures.
St Helens -4
2pts Evs bet365, Betfred
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