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CHRIS SMITH'S first hat-trick for Saints sunk his home town club to put the title charge back on track.

The ex-Great Britain Under-21 winger, a pounds 60,000 capture from Castleford 18 months ago, struck twice in the first 12 minutes to help Saints move three points clear at the top of the JJB Super League.

Smith finally silenced the terrace barrackers early in the second half to open up an unassailable 20-4 lead.

Fereti Tuilagi's thundering 80-yard break ripped the Tigers apart before he unselfishly handed on to the supporting Smith.

Test scrum-half Sean Long was also in celebratory mood for Saints five days after their shock defeat at Wakefield.

Long became the first player to clock up a century of Super League points this season with a sparkling try and four goals from six attempts.

Cas couldn't control the irrepressible Paul Newlove whose pace and power earned him two late tries to take his tally to 16 in his last nine games against the Tigers.

Castleford, with only one defeat in their last eight games, needed the introduction of substitute James Pickering to pep their attack, although full-back Jason Flowers performed heroics to keep the scoreline down.

Pickering set up Tigers first try for Darren Rogers - his 11th of the season - with Brad Davis notching the second.

A clever Adrian Vowles flick gave Richard Day a walk-in try seven minutes from time.

But it was another impressive attacking display from Saints with returning Kiwi Kevin Iro setting up Smith's first two tries.

Saints' Paul Atcheson and Tigers' Brad Davis had spells in the sin bin.

Tommy Martyn wrapped up victory with a late drop goal.
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Copyright 1999 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

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Title Annotation:Sport
Publication:The Mirror (London, England)
Date:May 20, 1999
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