Castleford Tigers claimed a crucial 24-0 away win against a hapless Huddersfield Giants side at the John Smith’s Stadium on Sunday afternoon. The win moves Cas back level with fifth-placed Salford Red Devils, whilst defeat for the Giants means they remain above bottom side London Broncos on points difference alone. Here’s how the action unfolded.
Castleford claimed a fourth win in their last five Super League matches to maintain their hopes of reaching the end of season play-offs, whilst condemning Huddersfield to an end of season relegation battle after a four-try success at the John Smith’s Stadium.
James Clare scored the game’s opening try after six minutes, after some quick hands from Peter Mata’utia.
Oliver Holmes then went close to doubling the visitors lead, from close range, but was held up well by some strong Huddersfield defence.
The Tigers continued to dominate when Paul McShane’s dangerous grubber kick forced a goal-line drop-out but failed to score from the resulting set of six.
Both sides struggled for quality in the opening 40 minutes, with Huddersfield in particular looking bereft of ideas on the last tackle, which sent the Tigers into a four-point lead at the break.
Adam Milner scored the Tigers second try, eight minutes into the second-half, when he crashed over from close range with Ellis adding the extras.
Things became worse for the Giants when Oliver Wilson was sin-binned on 57 minutes when he pulled back the on-rushing Oliver Holmes who was attempting to get on the end of a grubber kick.
Ellis successfully converted the two points, from the resulting penalty before Mike McMeeken wrapped up the victory for Cas when he was adjudged to have been first to touch down Jake Trueman’s kick in-goal, moments later, with Ellis again converting.
Jesse Sene-Lefao scored a fourth try for the visitors with 10 minutes remaining, breaking the Giants line before going over for an easy try which was comfortably converted by Ellis.
That try allowed Cas to stroll to back-to-back victories in Super League and keeps them well in the hunt for a play-off spot, moving back level with Salford in sixth-place as well as creating a two-point cushion ahead of Catalans Dragons.
It was a woeful showing from Huddersfield however, who sit in 10th position in Super League, with three rounds of fixtures left to play, and are only ahead of London on points difference after the capital club defeated Catalans in Perpignan on Saturday.
There was a late change to the Huddersfield side, with Innes Senior pulling up in the warm-up allowing Darnell McIntosh to come into the side.
Castleford struck first, scoring inside 10 minutes, when they were awarded a penalty, close to the Huddersfield try line, for interference, allowing Clare to go over in the corner after Mata’utia had batted the ball onto the winger, with Jamie Ellis unsuccessful with the conversion from the touchline.
The Giants thought they were away to score after 11 minutes, when Lee Gaskell broke the line, only for referee James Child to pull the play back for an obstruction.
Minutes later Holmes came close to scoring the game’s second try but was held up by a determined Huddersfield defence before McShane’s goal-line drop-out also failed to bring up some more points for the Tigers who led by four points at the interval.
Cheyse Blair was then held up close to the Giants line, in the opening minutes of the second period, with Greg Minikin in acres of space out wide as Cas continued to waste opportunities deep in their opponent’s half.
Milner compounded the home side’s misery when he crashed over for the Tigers second try on 48 minutes, after receiving an excellent short pass from McShane, with Ellis successfully adding the extras.
Things went from bad to worse for the Giants when Wilson was sin-binned after pulling back Holmes, with the Castleford man chasing down a loose grubber kick, allowing Ellis to add two points to his team’s total from the resulting penalty.
The game was killed off moments later when McMeeken touched down Trueman’s hotly contested kick in-goal, with referee Child consulting with the in-goal official before opting to award Cas their third try of the match with Ellis kicking his third goal of the match.
Sene-Lefao added some gloss to the score line with a try 10 minutes from time, breaking the Huddersfield line to score his seventh try of the season, which was once again converted by the boot of Ellis.
Try Shy Giants
Huddersfield were nilled at home for the second consecutive game at the John Smith’s Stadium. Having been hammered 44-0 by Leeds Rhinos a fortnight ago, the Giants once again failed to register a single score against Castleford on Sunday afternoon. The home side lacked any sort of invention on the last tackle, rarely threatening their opponents try-line, and must improve in attack if they are to remain in Super League next season.
Relegation Battle Intensifies
London’s win away to Catalans yesterday has further mired the relegation battle. The capital club are now level on points with both Hull KR and the Giants (who both suffered home defeats) with just three rounds of Super League fixtures left to play. It could be argued that Huddersfield have the trickiest run-in of the three sides, with Hull and London playing each other in the penultimate game of the season.
Cas Up Against It
Whilst their win on Sunday was crucial in the context of their season, Castleford are still up against it if they are to secure an end of season play-off place. Moving back level with fifth-placed Salford on 28 points, the Tigers will probably need to win all three of their remaining fixtures to guarantee a top five finish. Away trips to St Helens and Wigan Warriors look daunting, with a tricky home tie against Hull FC in-between in what will be an exciting end to the season for the West Yorkshire club.
Should it Have Been More?
Admittedly, a play-off place may appear unlikely for Castleford given their three remaining fixtures and their need to overhaul Salford’s points difference, but they could and probably should have won by a greater margin against Huddersfield. Cas wasted plenty of opportunities close to the Giants line and never really got into gear over the course of the 80 minutes. They remain 83 points difference behind the Red Devils and could have really put the pressure on with a big win on Sunday.
Huddersfield Giants 0
Drop Goals: n/a
Castleford Tigers 24
Tries: Clare, Milner, McMeeken, Sene-Lefao
Goals: Ellis 4
Drop Goals: n/a
Huddersfield Giants: Gaskell, McGillvary, McIntosh, Wardle, L. Senior, Russell, Holmes, Lawrence, Ta’ai, Mellor, Ikahihifo, Leeming, Walne
Interchanges: O’Brien, Roberts, Matagi, Wilson
Castleford Tigers: Rankin, Clare, Mata’utia, Blair, Minikin, Trueman, Ellis, Maher, McShane, Millington, Holmes, McMeeken, Massey
Interchanges: Milner, Sene-Lefao, O’Neill, Smith