Castleford Tigers held on for a 34-30 win at Warrington Wolves in a thrilling Super League game at the Halliwell Jones Stadium.
They came into the game as underdogs but showed the fighting spirit to get over the line against the in-form Wire, with the goal-kicking of Calum Turner making the difference despite the home side scoring six tries to the five of Cas.
The Tigers started the game on fire with two tries in the opening seven minutes. Mike McMeeken ran onto his own grubber from close range to open the scoring, before Jake Trueman’s kick rebounded off the crossbar into the arms of Turner to go over.
Warrington were soon back at them though, as Kevin Brown’s high kick was palmed down by Josh Charnley for Atkins to send Tyrone Roberts into the left corner.
That was followed by a great individual try by Stefan Ratchford, who went past two before holding off Quentin Laulu-Togaga’e to reach the line, and Daryl Clark’s dart over from a metre out with Harvey Livett’s first conversion edging the Wolves in front.
Castleford should have been back in front soon after but Foster somehow let the ball slip through his fingers with the line begging, and Sitakeli Akauola punished him with a try made by the work of Clark to burst through the line before offloading for the interchange to run in.
Cas came back with a flowing move left finished with a superb pass out the back by Turner for Michael Shenton to slip Jy Hitchcox in at the corner, and the young full-back kept up a perfect kicking record with a penalty to send the two sides into the break level.
The visitors started the second half strongly but suffered a setback with the sin binning of Adam Milner for a late elbow on Roberts, and they were punished by the powerful run of Charnley to force his way into the corner.
However, with the full complement back on the field Castleford hit their stride. They regained the lead when Jesse Sene-Lefao offloaded to QLT to go over on his Super League debut, and he set up the next try with the break and pass to send Oliver Holmes in.
Charnley made things tense with ten minutes left as he went over following an error from Turner, but Milner won and took a penalty to extend the lead to four and the Tigers managed to hold on for the win.
WHAT WE’VE LEARNED
Stretched squad show fighting spirit
While the in-form Warrington had almost the full squad to call upon again, Castleford haven’t had such an easy ride with injuries, with Paul McShane and Greg Eden missing out on the day to add to a huge number of absentees.
They didn’t let that keep them down though, with a remarkable fighting spirit to pull off an unexpected result. On the evidence of this performance, they should have no problem making the top four regardless of any challenges thrown at them.
Warrington fail to follow up Cup win
Warrington came into the game having not conceded a point in 147 minutes of action, yet they were 12-0 down within seven minutes and conceded 30 points for only the second time this season.
Castleford were very impressive but there will still be questions for Steve Price to ask of players who were beaten for effort, with the fatigue of a number of big games in recent weeks possibly taking its toll.
Man of the Match – Calum Turner (Castleford Tigers)
The young full-back was one of the best players on the field in his first Super League start. He always looked calm and had a great impact with the ball in hand, scoring a try as well as dealing brilliantly with the pressure of goal-kicking to give Cas the points they needed to get over the line.
Warrington Wolves 30
Tries: Roberts, Ratchford, Clark, Akaoula, Charnley (2)
Goals: Livett (2), Goodwin
Drop Goals: n/a
Castleford Tigers 34
Tries: McMeeken, Turner, Hitchcox, Laulu-Togaga’e, Holmes
Goals: Turner (6), Milner
Drop Goals: n/a
Warrington: Ratchford; Lineham, Goodwin, Atkins, Charnley; K Brown, Roberts; Hill, Clark, Cooper; Livett, Hughes, Westwood.
Interchanges: Murdoch-Masila, Patton, Akauola, Philbin.
Castleford: Turner; Minikin, Foster, Shenton, Hitchcox; Laulu-Togaga’e, Trueman; Millington, Milner, Cook; Wardle, McMeeken, Sene-Lefao.
Interchanges: Holmes, Massey, Clark, Maher.
Referee: Ben Thaler