Ben Barba provided another masterclass to take St Helens a step closer to Wembley following a 36-18 win over Castleford Tigers in the sixth round of the Ladbrokes Challenge Cup.
The Australian full-back scored three tries and created two others, while scrum-half Danny Richardson produced another highly-encouraging display, highlighted by a 16-point haul from a try and six goals.
Saints are through to the next round after beating Cas 36-18. Ben Barba with a hat-trick. Thanks to the massed Saints support behind the sticks that came out to see that today! pic.twitter.com/tKvywWbAV0— St.Helens R.F.C. (@Saints1890) 12 May 2018
Barba reacted smartly to get winger Regan Grace away for the opening try after 15 minutes and the dashing Aussie repeated the feat nine minutes before half-time and this time went on his own to touch down at the corner before adding his second try three minutes after the break.
Tigers substitute Jacob Trueman scored a solo try after 47 minutes before Barba sent centre Ryan Morgan through a gap for Saints’ fourth try and the hosts struck again as Greg Minikin crossed at the corner - Jamie Ellis added the extras.
Richardson scored a solo try after 62 minutes to put more daylight between the sides and Barba completed his hat-trick before England second rower Mike McMeeken scored a consolation last-minute try for the home side.
St Helens coach Justin Holbrook said: "Cas were on fire this time last year. It was obviously hard to watch but that's all done and dusted.
"We're a different side this year and I'm definitely happy get a good win here today."
Castleford coach Daryl Powell said: "I thought we defended really well and shut Barba down on pretty much everything but we started the second half really poor and never really got going. And when the game broke up, the quality that Barba has got shone. He picked us apart.
"I don't think we were durable enough."