Tale of Two Halves
Posted: Friday 10th August 2018 - 10:18 PM
Castleford Tigers’ first outing of the 2018 Super 8s ended in defeat on Friday evening, as they were downed 24-22 by Wigan Warriors at the DW Stadium.
The Tigers were dominated in a dismal first half, but came back with a resurgence in the second, very nearly completing one of the great comebacks of the modern era.
With second in the league playing third, the stakes were in the first of the seven Super 8s fixtures, and Wigan looked to be the most aware of the fact in the early going. The Warriors took the initiative after just six minutes, as George Williams threaded a kick behind the Castleford defence for Liam Marshall to collect.
Buoyed by their early score, the hosts piled the pressure on the Tigers and allowed the black and amber nothing in the way of meaningful field position. In fact, Castleford didn’t breach the Wigan half until 18 minutes into the contest, by which point the Warriors had extended their lead via Gabe Hamlin.
The Tigers had a couple of attempts at getting themselves onto the board, with Joe Wardle coming closest, but ultimately they were thwarted by the Warriors, and Castleford’s lack of respect for the ball didn’t help matters.
It was seemingly only a matter of time before Wigan added to their lead, and Dan Sarginson obliged, carving a hole in the Tigers’ right-side defence.
As the half drew on, Castleford settled a little more into the game, but there was no doubt that they were well off the pace. Ryan Sutton made them suffer even more with a try before the break, following a kick that ricocheted in front of the posts.
The Tigers had faced mountains to climb at the break before this season but, down by twenty points, this was practically rugby league’s answer to Everest.
The unlikely assault began just moments after the restart, as Jake Trueman – at the scene of his phenomenal hat-trick display last season – scythed through the Wigan defence to score a great individual try.
Whatever was said by the coaching staff at half time had clearly taken effect, as there was new enthusiasm about the Tigers. Momentum was suddenly on their side, and they reaped the rewards as James Clare went up for a Jamie Ellis kick, collected it and brilliantly finished in the corner. Ellis added the extras, meaning Castleford were, all off a sudden, just two scores behind the hosts.
Realising the severity of their situation, Wigan sharpened up in the proceeding minutes, but the Tigers – roared on by the travelling faithful – now had the wind firmly in their sails.
What had looked like a damage limitation job at the break suddenly had whole new meaning, and even more so as Paul McShane dotted down an Ellis kick, bringing the Tigers within six with plenty of time remaining on the clock.
From there, it was a matter of throwing everything at the Wigan line, in the hope that something broke through. However, it soon became apparent that the Tigers had just left themselves with too much to do.
Castleford threatened until the end, but a late Sam Tomkins penalty distinguished any chances of what would have been a Herculean comeback at the DW Stadium. Mitch Clark went in for a try with the last play of the game, but those two points proved pivotal as Wigan ran out winners.
Full Time: Castleford Tigers 22-24 Wigan Warriors
Eden, Gill, Wardle, Shenton, Clare, Ellis, Trueman, Watts, McShane, Sene-Lefao, Holmes, McMeeken, Massey
Webster, Moors, Milner, Clark
Tries: Trueman, Clare, McShane, Clark
Conversions: Ellis (3/4)
Tomkins, Davies, Isa, Sarginson, Marshall, Williams, Leuluai, Navarette, Powell, Flower, Greenwood, Bateman, Hamlin
Escare, Clubb, Sutton, Partington
Tries: Marshall, Hamlin, Sarginson, Sutton
Conversions: Tomkins (1/2), Escare (1/2)
Penalty: Escare (1/1), Tomkins (1/1)
*Match Report by Ross Williams
*Photo courtesy of Craig Milner