Huddersfield romped to the top of the table as they dismantled basement dwellers Castleford at Wheldon Road.
On Grand National day, this game was a one-horse race from the 20th minute as Huddersfield had run in three tries to Castleford’s one and the Tigers found themselves down to 12 men. They conceded a further two tries in the ten minutes they were depleted and simply could not force a way back into the game as Huddersfield’s giant pack dominated in the middle of the park.
On the back of such forward dominance, Danny Brough again made a mockery of his exclusion from the England Elite Training Squad, this time against the man who is occupying his position in the national team. His left boot punished Castleford all game as he displayed his varied kicking game to bamboozle the Tigers defence. Kicks to the corner, chips with back spin, teasing grubbers and tactical kicks to touch late on in the game were all on show, while with ball in hand, he was instrumental in much of the Fartowners’ attacking flair.
As was half back partner Luke Robinson and second rower Brett Ferres, who were also returning to their former stomping ground. Robinson and Ferres both crossed for a try each in addition to creating a couple with their vision and handling ability.
They were joined on the score sheet by Lunt, Warldle, Murphy and a brace from McGillvary.
Castleford restored some credibility with a late flurry of tries in the final ten minutes, but the gap between the sides was too much by then to have any impact on the result. Paul Anderson will perhaps worry why his side were unable to complete their otherwise impressive defensive display for the full 80 minutes, but the Tigers deserve credit for continuing to play with some pride despite the scoreline and clock being against them.
Oliver Holmes opened the scoring for Castleford when he barged onto Chase’s cut out pass on an angle to hit a gap in the Huddersfield defence and crash over for a try under the sticks, which was duly converted by Jamie Ellis.
Cas looked to have Huddersfield on the back foot having spent most of the first 10 minutes in the Giants half, but a penalty gifted the visitors some much needed field position from which they capitalized.
Ex-Tigers half back Brough teased the Cas defence with kicks into the in-goal area, first forcing a goal line drop out, before Stuart Fielden stole the ball to turn possession over near the try line, allowing Shaun Lunt to crash over from dummy half.
Huddersfield made it a quick-fire double when Joe Wardle took advantage of a sloppy Jordan Tansey pass to intercept and romp home from deep in his own half and put the Giants in the lead.
It was three tries before the 20 minute mark for Paul Anderson’s men when Brett Ferres slipped a one-handed offload to winger Aaron Murphy, who gleefully collected and touched down in the corner. Jeers rang out around Wheldon Road as the home crowd suspected the pass to be forward. Rangi Chase had similar feelings and was sent to the Sin Bin by referee Phil Bentham for voicing his concerns about the pass too vociferously.
With the hosts down to 12 men, Huddersfield took advantage of the extra space in the defensive line with two tries down their right-hand side. First, they slipped the ball through the backline to find Jermaine McGillvary in acres of space to romp home from distance. Moments later, Luke Robinson put Leroy Cudjoe away down the same wing before backing up on the inside to receive the return ball and stroll in for a simple score against the club he spent a spell on loan at nine years ago.
Jamie Cording had a try ruled out early in the second half; Danny Brough chased his own kicked and smashed Richard Owen, forcing the ball free for the back rower to touch down, but the video referee ruled that Huddersfield had players offside from the kick when Owen initially caught the ball.
The visiting fans did not have too long to wait before their side got the scoreboard operator working again, however, as Brett Ferres took advantage of the new free play rule when he scooped on a spilled ball and punted downfield for Jermaine McGillvary to beat owen in a foot race to touch down.
Another kick, another try a minute later. This time, Danny Borugh’s pinpoint kick to the corner was collected by Murphy who slipped a pass back on the inside to Brett Ferres to cross against his former club, having created two already.
As the clock ticked down, Adam Milner crossed for a late consolation try when he crashed over from dummy half before Castleford scored perhaps the tries of the game. First, directly from the restart, Chase collected the kick off and set off across field before putting Walker through a gap before the big prop forward slipped a pass to Daryl Clark who raced home.
Chase was then involved in the next try when he came up with a piece of his undoubted genius. He collected his own neat grubber kick before releasing a flick pass – without looking - to Jonny Walker who was charging on the stand off’s inside. The big prop collected the pass to touch down and bring some respectability to the score line.
Castleford: Tansey, Owen, Shenton, Gilmour, Thompson, Chase, Ellis, Walker, Milner, Mason, Massey, Hauraki, Holmes
Replacements: Clark, Huby, Fleming, Boyle
T: Holmes, Milner, Clark, Walker
G: Ellis 4
Huddersfield: Grix, McGillvary, Cudjoe, Wardle, Murphy, Brough, Robinson,
Fielden, Lunt, Kopczak, Ferres, Lawrence, Ferguson
Replacements: George, Faiumu, Patrick, Cording
T: Lunt, Warldle, Murphy, McGillvary 2, Robinson, Ferres
G: Brough 6
Referee: Phil Bentham
RLFans Man of the Match: Brett Ferres (Huddersfield)