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Tigers Roar Past Rovers: Castleford 18 Featherstone Rovers 0

A game with only 18 points scored can usually be classed as a dull affair, but this was far from boring. An 18-0 victory for Castleford over their neighbours Featherstone will have impressed coach Daryl Powell, mainly due to Rovers not getting a point on the board. Denny Solomona, Matt Cook and Jordan Tansey were the try scorers for the Tigers while Kyran Johnson and Ben Blackmore came close to the whitewash for the visitors.

The opening exchanges were lively, with both teams looking to put their mark on the game from the get-go. Liam Finn was constructing the Castleford plays whilst Gareth Moore was showing a lot more vigour compared to last season. Moore’s experienced half-back partner Paul Sykes was also chiming in, not afraid to take the ball to the line. Castleford created the first opportunity of the game, James Clare found himself one-on-one against Ben Blackmore but former Huddersfield man  Blackmore bundled Clare into touch. Moments later, it was Blackmore with the try-scoring opportunity but Clare and centre partner Channing managed to hold the Rovers winger up.

The first try of the game came on 19 minutes through Denny Solomona, a new signing for the Tigers from recently relegated London Broncos. Just too much pace on the winger for Kyran Johnson to deal with, Liam Finn converted for a 6-0 lead. Soon after Solomona’s try, Featherstone fans were introduced to Sam Irwin who comes to England with good pedigree after joining from NRL club Gold Coast Titans. Irwin had an impressive game with great ball distribution and a nifty turn of pace.

Good defence from Featherstone denied Solomona his second try on 26 minutes. The winger caused problems for Rovers on numerous occasions but the Post Office Road outfit certainly showed steel in defence. However, when in attack, Rovers just couldn’t quite get over the line. Kyran Johnson managed to get over the whitewash on 33 minutes but referee Richard Silverwood spotted a knock-on at the play-the-ball, therefore dismantling Featherstone’s good work.

Half-time arrived, and it was only a slender six point advantage for the Super League outfit which will have disappointed coach Powell who’ll have wanted to see a more dominant performance. Featherstone coach Andy Hay will have been happy but more composure in the attacking third from his players would be needed if they were to post some points on the board.

It didn’t take long for Castleford to double their lead, five minutes after the restart came the second try. Another new recruit for 2015, Matt Cook, got on the scoresheet as he proved too hot to handle for the Featherstone defenders. Finn’s conversion attempt proved successful. After Cook’s try, both sets of forwards were looking to set the platform for their respective teams. Steve Crossley gained yards with every burst whilst Jordan Baldwinson was impressing on his first outing in Rovers colours. Gareth Moore chipped the ball into the in-goal area and won his team another set of six as Castleford were trapped with nowhere to go. With the clock ticking just shy of the hour, Rovers were hunting for a score to keep the game alive. Good Tigers defence kept Featherstone out once more, creating a sense of frustration for the Rovers faithful.

It wouldn’t be a West Yorkshire derby without a few handbags here and there, and we certainly got a bit of that at the Mend-A-Hose Jungle. No such thing as a ‘friendly’ in rugby league! As the game wore on, more errors were coming into play. Knock on’s from the forwards coupled with silly offloads in midfield were on show, rustiness personified.

Kyran Johnson found himself with all the pitch at his disposal when he picked up a loose ball, Denny Solomona put on the burners however, and caught him after a short chase. With the Castleford defenders tracking back to try and get back in the defensive line, Solomona kept hold of Johnson for too long and was sin binned for a professional foul. Featherstone couldn’t capitalise on the one man advantage as good defence by their opponents was mixed with ball handling errors of their own.

Solomona returned to the field for the final few minutes, and was on the pitch when Tigers got their third and final try. A good break down the left side of the field saw Adam Milner get through a gap, he was supported well from full-back Tansey who rounded off a decent defensive performance with a try in attack. Finn converted and the final score ended 18-0 to the Castleford Tigers, who won the XBlades Prince of Wales Hospice Challenge and were awarded their trophy after the match.

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