It was second against fifth in the game of round fourteen as the Mend-A-Hose Jungle saw the Castleford Tigers host the Warrington Wolves. Warrington were looking to build on last weekend’s big win over the Huddersfield Giants, whereas the home side needed to put the disappointment of a tryless loss away at Wigan behind them.
A win would put the visitors within two points of the top of the table St Helens, and a loss could see the Tigers finish the weekend by slipping outside the top six.
With the Tigers having an indifferent season, and missing eleven first choice players, the Wolves were strong favourites for the away win.
The game sprang to life for the Tigers after a Jake Trueman 40-20 turned defence into attack. While they didn’t score on the subsequent six, they did on their next possession when Mike McMeeken found a gap down the middle of the park and found Corey Aston on the twenty metre line to go over under the sticks. Peter Mata’utia added the conversion for a 6-0 home lead.
Mike Cooper grabbed the equaliser for the Wolves after dragging three tacklers with him and boucing off the post pad before grounding on the line. Stefan Ratchford added the conversion for 6-6.
Ratchford added a penalty goal on twenty-five to give his side a two point advantage and when it looked like Tuoyo Egodo would score, after taking an Aston kick to the corner, Ryan Atkins did brilliantly to prevent the try by holding the Tigers winger on his back over the line.
On the half hour mark Toby King made the most of a Tigers defensive mistake when Eden failed to take a Blake Austin high kick allowing King to take the ball and go over to score. Ratchford was unable to convert, Warrington now 12-6 ahead.
A late penalty, for a late tackle on the kicker by McMeeken, gifted Ratchford another penalty goal after the half time hooter to take the lead out to eight points.
Less than two minutes were on the clock when Toby King grabbed his second of the night, and the Wolves’ first of the second half, when he took a superb back-handed Daryl Clarke pass to go over in the corner. Ratchford added the converstion for 20-6, the game ebbing away from the Tigers.
Ben Currie added his name to the scoresheet on forty-five with a bust between two Tigers tacklers before stretching for the line. Once again Ratchford added the conversion for a twenty point lead.
Castleford finally found some space down the right on fifty-eight when Egodo received the ball on the overlap and showed good pace to get to the line to ground. Calum Turner failed to convert from the touchline.
Minikin danced his way through the Warrington defence on sixty-two for a ten metre try but once again Turner failed to add the conversion. The Tigers were twelve behind but with plenty of time on the clock.
With Wakefield, Salford and Catalans all winning the Tigers dropped to seventh in the table as their season has taken a serious downturn. The Warrington Wolves showed their fragility but still held on for a good win to take the two points and maintain the pressure on Saints at the top of the table. It was a scrappy game with lots of mistakes from both sides, but most notably from the Tigers who will be kicking themselves for presenting Warrington with gilt-edged try scoring opportunities through poor handling in their own twenty.
Tigers: Mata’utia (G), Egodo (T), Minikin (T), Blair, Eden, Aston (T), Trueman, Watts, McShane, Maher, Clarkson, McMeeken, Massey. Subs: Milner, Clark, Turner, Smith.
Wolves: Ratchford (5G), Johnson, Atkins, King (2T), Charnley, Austin, Patton, Hill, Clark, Cooper (T), Currie (T), Hughes, Davis. Subs: Clark, Livett, Philbin, Akuola.
Referee: Chris Kendall.