Nicholas Mew reviews the Butterfinger Bowl….. Here’s how the game went.
|4th||Try Liam Kay (Toronto)||Toronto 4-0 Castleford|
|8th||Try Greg Eden (Castleford)||Toronto 4-4 Castleford|
|9th||Conversion Danny Richardson (Castleford)||Toronto 4-6 Castleford|
|18th||Try Grant Millington (Castleford)||Toronto 4-10 Castleford|
|31st||Try Adam Milner (Castleford)||Toronto 4-14 Castleford|
|32nd||Conversion Danny Richardson (Castleford)||Toronto 4-16 Castleford|
|35th||Try Michael Shenton (Castleford)||Toronto 4-20 Castleford|
|40th||Conversion Danny Richardson (Castleford)||Toronto 4-22 Castleford|
|46th||Try Peter Mata’utia (Castleford)||Toronto 4-26 Castleford|
|47th||Conversion Danny Richardson (Castleford)||Toronto 4-28 Castleford|
|60th||Try Hakim Miloudi (Toronto)||Toronto 8-28 Castleford|
|62nd||Conversion Blake Wallace (Toronto)||Toronto 10-28 Castleford|
Despite Toronto opening and closing the scoring, this was a decisive and well-deserved Tigers win. Throughout the match Castleford picked up 30 to 60 metres with each set, with several near-scores only ending through their own handling errors.
Toronto’s vaunted defence from their 2019 Championship campaign looked porous against Super League opposition. Whenever the third man in the tackle was slow getting back to the line, the Tigers capitalised by running at the resulting gap, and to great effect. When Toronto had the ball they were frequently met by a structured defence that immediately stopped the forward progress. My wife’s blunt observation was that it looked like Castleford had more players on the pitch than the Wolfpack.
To combat this, the Wolfpack tried a variety of offloads and interesting plays, combined with wild long-distance passes. Teammates were either not ready, or perhaps the adrenaline of the first match meant that they were out of position and trying to run before they even had the ball, but the end result was a lot of drops, misses, and chasing after the ball on the ground. Castleford stayed calm, played a consistent game, and waited to take advantage of Toronto errors. They never had to wait long.
The second half was much more evenly matched, as though Toronto suddenly realised they needed to pick up the pace. Both teams got six points, but it was simply too late for the Wolfpack. They couldn’t make up the points put past them by a Castleford side clearly unaffected and unimpressed by all the media attention on this game.
Referee James Childs kept the match under control, and any change of his adjudications would not have altered the end result, only the magnitude of the Tigers victory. But one very strange decision of his came when Josh McCrone correctly played the ball with his foot, as the league is apparently enforcing this year (despite that not actually being the case to anyone who has watched Super League matches so far). Despite the ball clearly going backward, it was ruled a turnover to Castleford. I’ve pressed a dozen shirts at home and there was less irony involved.
Depending on your perspective, the match highlight could have been:
(a) Liam Kay opening the scoring in the 4th minute with Toronto’s first try in Super League. That’s the name that will be recorded in the history books. Completely apt, as he was Toronto’s first ever signing back before they began play in 2017.
(b) Sonny Bill Williams taking to the field in the 27th minute. Bringing a cheer from the crowd, and excitement from the Sky announcing team. It looked like an attempt by the Wolfpack to stem the Castleford momentum and change their fortunes in the game. It was immediately followed by a handling error. He had some good moments, but it will take time to get up to speed.
(c) Adam Milner’s try in the 31st minute opening the floodgates for Castleford. It had been building for the Tigers up to this point, and looked like it could happen at any moment.
(d) Hakim Miloudi’s intercept and lengthy run for a Toronto try in the 60th minute. Great anticipation by Hakim, the most consistently exciting player on the pitch all match for Toronto. Where is he going to go? What is he going to do? Nobody knows, not even him.
(e) The whistle at the end mercifully ending this display of poor handling and errors by both teams.
Toronto Wolfpack 10
Tries: Liam Kay, Hakim Miloudi
Goals: Blake Wallace
Drop Goals: n/a
Castleford Tigers 28
Tries: Greg Eden, Grant Millington, Adam Milner, Michael Shenton, Peter Mata’utia
Goals: Danny Richardson (4)
Drop Goals: n/a
Toronto Wolfpack: Blake Wallace, Liam Kay, Hakim Miloudi, Ricky Leutele, Matty Russell, Joe Mellor, Josh McCrone, Adam Sidlow, Andy Ackers, Anthony Mullally, Andrew Dixon, Tom Olbison, Jon Wilkin, Gadwin Springer, Brad Singleton, James Cunningham, Sonny Bill Williams
Castleford Tigers: Greg Eden, Michael Shenton, Peter Mata’utia, Derrell Olpherts, Jake Trueman, Danny Richardson, Liam Watts, Paul McShane, Grant Millington, George Griffin, Cheyse Blair, Adam Milner, Nathan Massey, Daniel Smith, Jacques O’Neill, Tyla Hepi