Mata’utia drop goal seals golden win
Posted: Friday 7th June 2019 - 10:32 PM
A drop goal from Peter Mata’utia in golden point extra time gave the Tigers a 27-26 victory over Huddersfield at a rainswept Mend-A-Hose Jungle.
Following a two-week break from action, the Tigers were far from at their best and had the boot of their full back to thank for keeping them in the content for long periods, with four penalties and a nerveless late conversion from Grant Millington’s try on his 200th appearance for the club giving Mata’utia the biggest say on proceedings.
As expected given the conditions – the rain had steadily poured all afternoon in West Yorkshire – both teams set about working hard for their territory in the opening exchanges a few hours’ earlier with the two packs going head to head in an intense battle in the midfield.
For the Tigers, loose forward Nathan Massey came back into the side following a knock whilst Mitch Clark was preferred to Will Maher off the bench, but it was the starting forwards who laid the platform with a physical first quarter hat got their side on the front foot, Cas’ dominance up front laying the platform to two penalty goals from Peter Mata’utia for a 4-0 advantage.
However, whilst the Giants had struggled to make ground in the first half, a series of errors and penalties from the Tigers had let them off the hook, with Huddersfield looking creative with what little ball the had. Indeed, it was the away side who would post the first try of the evening around the half-hour mark when half back Lee Gaskell stepped back inside through a gap to crash over in front of the Wheldon Road end.
It proved to be the case once again for Huddersfield when they posted their second of the night shortly afterwards, with a sloppy error from Jake Trueman inside the opposition 20 letting them off the hook, before a penalty set up the field position for Gaskell to dummy his way over for a double, two Oliver Russell conversions giving the visitors a 12-4 advantage.
By this stage, Cas’ frustration was obvious having made the better start but they did respond before the break after finally capitalising on their field position. This time the chance came down the right edge as Jordan Rankin and Mata’utia swung it wide with the latter’s kick causing problems in the Giants defence and allowing centre Greg Minikin to pounce. Mata’utia converted from the touchline to narrow the gap to just two points at half-time.
The first chance of the second half came to the Tigers as well when Rankin was hauled down inches short after James Clare had tipped back his high kick to the corner. With the words of Daryl Powell ringing in their ears, there was a lift in defence as well, with some good scrambling cover on their own goal line keeping Huddersfield at bay.
The standout defensive moment came midway through the second half though, with one set keeping the Giants pinned inside their own 10 on the last tackle. From the resulting position, Mata’utia was caught high and he kicked the resulting penalty to level the scores at 12-12.
However, Huddersfield hit straight back with Gaskell going over for his hat-trick score after being set clear by Darnell McIntosh, Cas’ pleas for obstruction ignored by referee Ben Thaler, before the once-again excellent Liam Watts dragged his side back into the contest. Just minutes after staying down injured after another strong hit-up, the Tigers prop showed his power was unaffected as he surged over from close range to level matters at 18-18 going into a tense final quarter.
Mata’utia and Russell then exchanged penalties to keep the two teams gridlocked going into a tense final 15 minutes and there was plenty of drama still to come. First, some poor play from the Tigers gave the Giants the initiative as Paul McShane was caught trying to score from dummy half on the last in prime position with a 40/20 from Russell on the following set giving Joe Wardle the opportunity to score.
The Tigers went short from the kick-off but couldn’t regather possession, although they did restrict the metres of their opposition. Some neat play in midfield then opened up the space for Cheyse Blair to take play deep into Huddersfield territory and from there a lovely grubber from Daniel Smith gave Grant Millington the chance to dot down. Mata’utia held his nerve with the conversion and despite late drop goal attempts from either side, the 80 minutes passed by with the scores tied at 26-26.
That set up golden point for the first time at the Mend-A-Hose Jungle in a new era for the Betfred Super League and both teams opted not to go for the drop goal from long range in their opening sets after the restart. Trueman was the first to take a shot from 40 metres out only to drag it wide and mistakes in midfield from both sides only intensified the drama.
Rankin then dribbled his drop goal attempt along the floor as another chance came and went for the Tigers inside the opening five-minute half of golden point extra-time, with the Giants receiving first possession once play was restarted for a second time. Their first set ended with an ambitious shot at goal from Russell which Mata’utia mopped up in the shadow of his own posts and from there the full back took matters into his own hands with the one-pointer after great work from Minikin and Mike McMeeken had taken their team onto the Giants try line.
Full Time: Castleford Tigers 27-26 Huddersfield Giants
Mata’utia, Clare, Minikin, Blair, Eden, Trueman, Rankin, Watts, McShane, Smith, Clarkson, McMeeken, Massey
Millington, Milner, Cook, Clark
Tries: Minikin, Watts, Millington
Conversions: Mata’utia (3/3)
Penalties: Mata’utia (4/4)
Drop goal: Mata’utia
McIntosh, McGillvary, Turner, Jake Wardle, I Senior, Gaskell, Russell, English, O’Brien, Matagi, Joe Wardle, Mellor, Murphy
Clough, Leeming, Lawrence, Ta’ai
Tries: Gaskell (3), Joe Wardle
Conversions: Russell (4/4)
Penalty: Russell (1/1)
*Match report by Matt Holden
**Photography by Melanie Allatt Photography
*** Golden Gamble winner: 04661
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