Castleford Tigers held off a second half comeback to beat Huddersfield Giants 40-28 for their sixth win in seven matches.
Castleford scored five tries in the first half to lead 28-6 after a blistering first 40 from the visitors, but the Giants fought back before two late tries made the points safe.
It took just four minutes for the first try, as Ben Roberts’ grubber was touched down by Paul McShane.
The second was typical Cas, moving the ball around brilliantly with Jake Trueman finding Greg Minikin to score in the corner.
The third try came from another grubber with McShane this time the provider, and Alex Foster touched down under the posts to further the lead.
Jordan Turner was sent to the bin soon after and the Giants were punished further as Jake Webster burst past Aaron Murphy to score the Tigers’ fourth try.
Huddersfield clawed some points back as Lee Gaskell’s short pass was well juggled and then grounded by Ukuma Ta’ai, but Castleford had the final say of the half as the returning Greg Eden showed a remarkable turn of pace to accelerate away from Jared Simpson and score.
It looked at half-time like it could have been a rout, but Huddersfield deserve a lot of credit for fighting back in the second half.
Two tries brought the margin down to 12 points, the first coming from Daniel Smith who collected Gaskell’s offload to score after the initial break downfield by Jordan Rankin.
That was followed by a first Giants try for young winger Innes Senior, who collected Murphy’s pass and did well to stretch to the line.
A Jamie Ellis penalty could have put the game to bed but Huddersfield kept fighting, and after Adam Milner was sent to the bin Senior got his second to reduce the gap to eight.
It looked like the game was finally settled when Foster got a scrappy second try, and yet Castleford made a mess of the restart and Gaskell claimed the ball and offloaded to Shannon Wakeman to score.
They managed to close the game out, however, with captain Michael Shenton finishing it off with a sprint through a tiring defence in the final minute.
WHAT WE’VE LEARNED
SUN BRINGS OUT CLASSY CAS… FOR 40 MINUTES AT LEAST
The first half was just vintage Cas, with great ball movement and offloads that Huddersfield simply couldn’t deal with.
That was despite the absence of Luke Gale with a minor ankle injury, but Ben Roberts made up for much of his creativity with a strong display while Jamie Ellis did the business from the tee with six goals against his former side.
After playing in atrocious conditions in their previous two games the sunshine looked to be bringing out the best in the Tigers, yet they struggled to create momentum in the second half with the loss of Eden at half time to another hamstring injury a big blow.
However, Daryl Powell’s side held on for the win and registered 12 points more than in any game so far this season, climbing up to fifth in the table.
PLENTY OF POSITIVES FOR GIANTS
It was a desperately disappointing first half for Huddersfield as they struggled to keep the attacking threat of Castleford at bay, not helped by the number of penalties conceded which kept the Giants on the back foot.
The second half was a completely different story as the forwards put them on the front foot, and as a result they scored five tries for only the second time this season, including two well worked tries out wide for Innes Senior.
Huddersfield showed more endeavour and invention than was seen under Rick Stone, and there are plenty of positives that Chris Thorman will take.
That said, it’s another defeat and they remain 11th in the table. Wins are required urgently if they are to avoid the Qualifiers.
Man Of The Match- Innes Senior (Huddersfield Giants)
Innes Senior had an afternoon to remember in just his second Giants appearance, with two well taken tries in the second half to give his side a chance.
Their injury crisis has given him and twin brother Louis their opportunity in the first team and neither disgraced themselves.
Both were comfortable in defence and under the high ball, as well as providing threat going forward, with Innes’ two tries from the left wing the highlights of the game.
WHAT THEY ARE SAYING
Huddersfield Giants interim head coach Chris Thorman:
“I went ballistic at half time. I said to them that I know they’re capable and I know with the injuries there’s plenty of excuses thrown around, but I know there blokes that started and finished can do their jobs.
“It’s really disappointing that it takes me to lose my rag to give them some energy and enthusiasm for them to go and have a crack.
“There comes a point where we need wins and it’s frustrating. I’m not naïve enough to not understand the situation we’re in, in terms of missing personnel, but we’re in the industry to win games.”
Castleford Tigers head coach Daryl Powell:
“I thought we did some really good things in the first half, I thought we had a lot of control. The team looked solid, we defended pretty well for the most part. I always thought we had full control of the game.
“And then we just seem to be coming out at half time with a completely different mentality and it’s something we’ve got to change.
“We got rattled by a couple of changes, obviously losing Greg Eden wasn’t great and that threw us out of sync a little bit, but there’s no excuses for that and we should be able to do the job.”
Huddersfield Giants 28
Tries: Ta’ai, Smith, I Senior (2), Wakeman
Goals: Rankin (4)
Drop Goals: n/a
Castleford Tigers 40
Tries: McShane, Minikin, Foster (2), Webster, Eden, Shenton
Goals: Ellis (6)
Drop Goals: n/a
Huddersfield: Simpson; L Senior, Turner, Murphy, I Senior; Gaskell, Rankin; Ikahihifo, O’Brien, Ta’ai; Ferguson, Lawrence, Smith.
Interchanges: Wakeman, Roberts, Clough, English.
Castleford: Trueman; Minkin, Webster, Shenton, Eden; Roberts, Ellis; Watts, McShane, Millington; Holmes, Wardle, Foster.
Interchanges: Moors, McMeeken, Milner, Springer
Referee: Ben Thaler