Castleford Tigers host the Wigan Warriors this Saturday night at the Mend-A-Hose Jungle. The pair met just a few weeks back at the DW Stadium, were the Tigers ran out 27-10 winners. Wigan will be looking to rectify that result, and a win will leapfrog them above Castleford.
LAST TIME OUT
Castleford Tigers come into this game on the back of two defeats, the latest being a narrow 26-24 loss, away at Hull FC. The Tigers got off to the worse possible start, as Hull ran in three tries through Scott Taylor and a brace from Mahe Fonua. It was a great 15-minute spell for the black and whites, as they stunned the Tigers. Castleford were given a boost when Liam Watts was sent off in the 22nd minute for a high shot on Luke Gale. Less than a minute later, Castleford finally got off the mark, as Greg Minikin scored for the travelling side. Only minutes later they were in again through Ben Roberts, but two failed conversions by Paul McShane meant they trailed 18-8. Tigers started to gain some momentum, and following a Hull penalty, the experience of Marc Sneyd kicked in, as he went for goal to give FC a 20-8 lead. Right on halftime, Tigers scored again, as Minikin got his second of the game. Hull FC held a 20-14 lead at halftime, but still had the disadvantage of being down to 12-men. Following a Marc Sneyd penalty-goal, Ben Roberts went over for his second of the game to crawl the Tigers closer. Only minutes later, Carlos Tuimavave went over to make the Tigers job even tougher, as they now trailed 26-18 with around 15-minutes to go. The game seemed to fizzle out, however, in the final minutes of the game Mike McMeeken went over to make it a twitchy finish. But it wasn’t to be and 12-man Hull held on for a great 26-24 win.
Wigan Warriors go into this game on the back of three wins, the latest being a 42-22 win, at home to the Catalan Dragons. It was a strange first half on a sunny afternoon in Wigan, as the Warriors led 16-0 at one stage, with tries from Joe Burgess and two from Tom Davies. Then it all went wrong, as crucial errors gifted Catalans a way back in, as they would go in for three tries of their own through Fouad Yaha, Tony Gigot and Louis Anderson to level the game up at 16-16 going into halftime. Wigan were rather sloppy in the first half, and the 16-0 lead they had, sort of flattered the cherry and whites. They needed to be much better in the second half they were going to win this one, and they got off to a perfect start when Liam Forsyth was on the end of a lucky bounce to put Wigan 20-16 ahead. Then, Catalans went ahead for the first and only time of the game when Louis Anderson got his second of the match to give them a 22-20 lead. The game was a struggle for the next 10-minutes as both sides struggled to create anything significant. Then, in the final 20-minutes of the game, Wigan turned on the style, and ran in for 22-unanswered points. They scored four tries through Liam Forsyth, Joe Burgess, Liam Marshall and Liam Farrell to blow the Dragons away and runaway for the win. It was a great result for Wigan, one in which saw them go just one-point behind league leaders, Castleford Tigers.
This is set to be a real cracker, between two great sides. If Wigan were to win this game, they will leapfrog the Tigers in the table, which is a remarkable accomplishment from where they both were just a couple weeks ago.
With Thomas Leuluai set to be out for up to six-weeks, there’s going to be a little reshuffle in the Wigan side. Wane looks set to hand young hooker, Josh Ganson his debut, with Sam Powell moving into the halves to partner George Williams. With every Wigan youngster, there’s always a real sense of excitement when a new one debuts. He’ll be up against Paul McShane, who’s had a great season thus far.
Out wide, the Tigers have been outstanding this year, with Greg Eden. Greg Minikin, Jake Webster and Michael Shenton all having unbelievable seasons, scoring some remarkable tries. As for Wigan, they’ve struggled with injuries, but the youngsters who have come in have stood up well, with Liam Marshall scoring 10-tries in 2017. With Burgess back, and Gelling this week, they’re getting stronger.
I think the most anticipated battle will be between the two fullbacks. Both Zak Hardaker and Morgan Escaré have had great starts to the season, becoming real influential players in their team’s success. Both can change a game in an instant, and with their quick speed and great defensive abilities, they’re tough players to stop. Both players will be key in the result of this game, and I wouldn’t be surprised if one of them is named man of the match on Saturday.
This is going to be a great game. The fact that the Tigers haven’t won in their last two, makes it even more tasty, as they will be looking for a big response, especially in front of their home fans. On the other hand, Wigan have won their last three, and will be looking to rectify their defeat to the Tigers just a few weeks ago.
It’s a real tough game to predict, and as a Wigan fan, I’m just going to tip them, but I can’t see either side winning by more than 10-points.
Wigan Warriors by 8
Castleford Tigers head coach Daryl Powell:
“They are in better form than when we played them earlier in the season, they’re currently on a three-match streak. They’ve had a good Easter.
“They beat Catalans pretty comfortable last week and they’re going well. They are a physical side and you know you’re in for a tough game when you face up against them because they come after you.
“You’ve got to take your chances when you can because they don’t concede a whole heap of points. We’ve just got to be on our game on the night.”
Wigan Warriors head coach Shaun Wane:
“They’re the best team in the competition, they’ve been consistently good this year. The loss the other week hurt us, we were below par and they were the best team that day.
“(Against Catalan) Our goal-line defence was good and two tries came from that and there was some good skill on show. I was happy with our attack.
“I’ll always be confident that we can have a dig. We’ll have a good team out this week and hopefully we’ll be strong enough to get something from the game.”
Tigers head coach Daryl Powell makes just one change from last week with Matt Cook replacing Andy Lynch.
Wigan make three changes with Joel Tomkins, Anthony Gelling and Josh Ganson replacing Joe Bretherton, Liam Forsyth and Thomas Leuluai.
Castleford Tigers: Rangi Chase, Matt Cook, Greg Eden, Luke Gale, Zak Hardaker, Oliver Holmes, Nathan Massey, Paul McShane, Mike McMeeken, Grant Millington, Greg Minikin, Adam Milner, Joel Monaghan, Junior Moors, Ben Roberts, Jesse Sene-Lefao, Gadwin Springer, Michael Shenton and Jake Webster
Wigan Warriors: Joe Burgess, Tom Davies, Morgan Escaré, Liam Farrell, Ben Flower, Josh Ganson, Anthony Gelling, Nick Gregson, Willie Isa, Liam Marshall, Michael Mcilorum, Romain Navarrete, Frank-Paul Nuuausala, Sean O’Loughlin, Sam Powell, Ryan Sutton, Taulima Tautai, Joel Tomkins and George Williams.
Referee: Robert Hicks
Venue: Mend-A-Hose Jungle, Castleford
Date/Time: Saturday 29th April 2017 – 19:00pm GMT