Castleford Tigers produced another hard-fought win over local rivals Wakefield Trinity to make it ten derby wins in a row the final score 24-4 at the mend-a-hose Jungle.
A derby game many highlighted in their rugby league calendar, with free-flowing rugby expected to be rife, the matchup has produced two tight contests already in 2018.
Luke Gale kicked three first-half penalties to get his side off, and although he would later limp off, Jamie picked up his game to continue the Tigers dominance.
Unlike last night’s electric speed of attack from St. Helens, fans had to wait until the twentieth minute for the first try, Ellis showing his skills as he picked up a ball of his shoelaces before firing the ball to Greg Minikin in the corner.
Last year this could have been the spark of a Castleford purple patch, however, the game once again returned to the slow, error-ridden, battle both teams had been dragged into.
Penalties had hampered both sides attempts to gain a foothold in the game, gifting either side the opportunity to keep the scores close, Wakefield grabbing one of their few first-half chances through Tyler Randall.
The hooker’s slight dummy and go splitting the Tigers defence allowing him to burrow his way over, Ryan Hampshire would fluff his conversion from in front, meaning the scores remained 10-4.
Just ten minutes into the second half, video referee Phil Bentham was the man involved in the most action, turning down a try for both sides- a controversial obstruction call denying Wakefield before Tom Johnstone’s last-ditch effort denied Greg Minikin.
This decision seemingly taking the life out of the Wakefield side, as the Tigers crossed for two more tries through Adam Milner and Paul McShane and yet another penalty through the boot of Jamie Ellis.
The game definitely will not go down as a classic but for the Tiger’s it is another two points as they push towards the top, the final score 24-4.
WHAT WE’VE LEARNED
With two tries and four assists already this season, Liam Finn has shown he is the linchpin for the Wakefield attack many times.
However, he was found missing tonight as Trinity failed to mount many worthy attacks on the Tigers line.
On the opposite side, despite starting the game, Luke Gale was limped off with a knee issue.
Without his neat kicking game and fleet of foot, the Tigers had to rely mainly on Jamie Ellis. Whilst Ellis did enough, Daryl Powell will be hoping Gale’s injury won’t keep him out for too long.
Decisions to be made for Powell.
Jamie Ellis produced his sixth try assist in six starts for Castleford tonight- an impressive record for a player who hasn’t been the first choice this season.
Yet with Ben Robert’s transition to fullback seemingly failed, Powell has some tough choices to make.
Is Jake Trueman the answer to the problem at fullback? If so, Roberts would presumably slot into the number six role, but is this the right choice?
Powell will have to decide whether the elusive running game of Roberts or the elite kicking game of Ellis will provide the best foundation for the Tigers chances in 2018.
Man Of The Match- Pauli Pauli (Wakefield)
A mountain of an effort from a mountain of a man; when Pauli Pauli arrived at Wakefield there was an air of excitement, yet the 6ft 4″ Samoan has failed to live up to expectations.
However, a change of position for Pauli worked wonders as he produced a stellar defensive display against Gale in the first half and worked tirelessly in driving his side up the field.
If Trinity are going to change their fortunes and start picking up wins, the powerful forward will be a key player as the season progresses.
Castleford Tigers- 24
Tries: Minikin, Milner, McShane
Goals: Gale 3/3, Ellis 3/4
Drop Goals: n/a
Wakefield Trinity- 4
Goals: Hampshire 0/1
Drop Goals: n/a
Castleford Tigers: Cook, Ellis, Gale, Green, Holmes, McMeeken, McShane, Millington, Milner, Minikin, Moors, Sene-Lefao, Shenton, Springer, Trueman, Turner, Wardle, Watts, Webster.
Wakefield Trinity: Annakin, Arona, Arundel, Ashurst, Baldwinson, Batchelor, England, Hampshire, Hirst, Huby, Johnstone, Jones-Bishop, Jowitt, Lyne, Miller, Pauli, Randell, Tupou, Wood.
Referee: Robert Hicks