Fifth hosted sixth as the Castleford Tigers welcomed the Warrington Wolves to the Mend-a-Hose Jungle. The Tigers were bristling with confidence after last weeks win against Hull FC, while the Wolves had to re-group and re-focus after last weekends demolition at the hands of the Leeds Rhinos.
The prize on offer for the Tigers was fourth spot, ahead of the Giants game against the Dragons tomorrow night, whereas the Wolves needed to secure the two points to keep alive any realistic hopes of a top four finish, and a place in the play-offs.
Although Warrington had edged the opening quarter of an hour, and in doing so dominating field position, it was the home side who scored the first try when Justin Carney went over in the corner on a big overlap after Joel Monaghan had come out of the line. Luke Gale converted brilliantly from the touchline as he slid the ball between the posts.
Warrington were denied a try after twenty-five when Ryan Atkins was deemed to have knocked-on while catching a Chris Sandow kick.
Within two minutes the Tigers had struck again with another four pointer. After Stefan Ratchford dropped a high kick under pressure the Tigers used their tackles and an Oliver Holmes offload ultimately allowed Michael Shenton to jink through a broken defensive line to score. Gale missed an easier conversion attempt than his first, but his side were 10-0 up.
On thirty-two the Wolves registered their first score of the evening when Richie Myler forced his way over next to the right upright off an Ashton Sims pass. Sandow added the extras to reduce the deficit to four points.
When Hill and Westwood were penalised by referee for holding Carney, with just under two minutes on the clock, Castleford opted to kick the two point penalty and Gale floated the ball between the uprights for a 12-6 half-time lead.
The second half was just three minutes old when Justin Carney got his second of the night, again on the overlap, after a Liam Finn kick and Michael Shenton offload allowed Carney crash over in the corner. Gale hit the post and failed to convert.
Warrington had bombed several chances deep in the Tigers half, but ironically it was when the Tigers were attacking that the Wolves got their lifeline. A poor kick on the last from Liam Finn went straight into the hands of Richie Myler who pinned back his ears and went ninety metres to score. Sandow failed to add the extras but the visitors were within six.
Luke Gale missed a drop goal attempt on seventy-three, demonstrating the precariousness of the Tigers position.
And when four minutes from the end and Kevin Penny went over by the left corner flag off a Myler pass, Sandow added the extras to square the game at 16-16 and it looked like we were heading for a draw.
But when Daryl Clarke lost the ball in the carry, the Tigers used their tackles and set Liam Finn to slot over a drop goal with just ninety seconds left, to become the Castleford hero.
It had been the closest of games with the closest of finishes. Scrappy at times with lost of missed opportunities it was still a great spectacle and fantastic entertainment for fans and neutrals alike.
For the Tigers it is all now on, as they raise themselves above the Giants into fourth spot as Castleford fans switch allegiance into 'Catalans for a night' tomorrow. For Warrington it looks like the end of the 2015 road, barring an extraordinary sequence of events.
Tigers: Roberts, Gibson, Webster, Shenton (T), Carney (2T), Finn (DG), Gale (2G), Lynch, Milner, Millington, Holmes, McMeeken, Massey. Subs: Dorn, Cook, Moors, Springer.
Wolves: Ratchford, Penny (T), Evans, Atkins, Monaghan, Sandow (2G), Myler (2T), Hill, Clark, Sims, Westwood, Currie, Hill. Subs: Dwyer, Asostasi, Wheeler, King G.
Referee: Ben Thaler