Castleford Tigers produce assured second half display to avoid Challenge Cup shock at Batley Bulldogs

Castleford Tigers avoided a shock in the Challenge Cup by beating Batley Bulldogs 28-14 in a keenly contested sixth round tie.
Action from Batley Bulldogs v Castleford Tigers in the sixth round of the Challenge Cup. Photo by Paul Butterfield.Action from Batley Bulldogs v Castleford Tigers in the sixth round of the Challenge Cup. Photo by Paul Butterfield.
Action from Batley Bulldogs v Castleford Tigers in the sixth round of the Challenge Cup. Photo by Paul Butterfield.

The Super League side scored 14 unanswered points in the second half to seal their quarter final place after the Bulldogs had threatened to spring a surprise in the first half.

Mark Moxon’s men led 8-0 and 14-10, while Cas also had their moments in a thrilling 40 minutes of rugby league.

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The pre-match build-up predominantly surrounded the return of Batley legend Craig Lingard back to the club having left for Cas at the end of last season.

The Fox's Biscuits StadiumThe Fox's Biscuits Stadium
The Fox's Biscuits Stadium

And the former Batley head coach, who led the club to their first ever Wembley appearance in last season’s 1895 Cup final, would not have been surprised by the Bulldogs’ enthusiastic start.

Full of energy, the home side, playing down the famous slope, dominated the early stages as they hoped to make the unlevel surface, as well as the favourable downward wind, a leveller for this intriguing cup encounter.

They also received a bit of a help from a nervy Castleford defence who have already shipped 178 points in their five defeats at the start of the new Super League campaign.

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A couple of errors handed the Bulldogs back-to-back sets and they took full advantage with Dane Manning bursting over after only seven minutes.

Another Cas error, with Jack Broadbent parrying the ball out of play, resulted with Dave Gibbons’ penalty making it 8-0.

Not the start Lingard, or the travelling Tigers fans, envisaged. When they did finally venture deep into the Batley half for the first time after 17 minutes, Paul McShane was adjudged to have stolen the ball from Kieran Buchanan as their first glimpse of getting on the trysheet was scuppered.

However, it was a major sign that Cas were creeping back into the contest and they were rewarded when Josh Simm went over in the far corner.

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And then, in the blink of an eye, the visitors were in front as Rowan Milnes touched down after a Jacob Miller kick was collected by Liam Horne who offloaded to the stand-off.

But what do we always say. Never, ever, write off the Bulldogs. Especially when they are considered the inferior opponent.

Former Halifax Panthers star Brandon Moore barged over from close range as they regained the initiative. The sloppiness of it, from a Tigers perspective, had Lingard furiously ranting into his radio on the touchline.

Lingard’s words, though, must have reached the players as Innes Senior scored right on the half-time hooter to ensure the match was perfectly poised at 14-14.

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It was 40 minutes of non-stop action. A topsy-turvy cup tie where you could not predict a winner. What a game for Ben White to celebrate his record breaking 104th consecutive appearance for the Bulldogs.

But Cas’ full-time professionalism was on display for all to see in the second half.

McShane went over three minutes after the restart as Cas re-established their lead - which they never looked like relinquishing.

Even when Alex Mellor was sent to the sin bin for ten minutes, they remained purposeful and unflustered.

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A rainbow materialised over Mount Pleasant as Jacob Miller extended the lead by bundling over in front of the Craig Lingard Terrace - he was that popular here during his time as a player and coach he got his own stand named after him. Maybe there might be a pot of gold for Cas in the form of a Challenge Cup run.

Senior sneaked in for his second of the afternoon late on as the Super League outfit avoided a potential banana-skin, as the Bulldogs ran out of steam.

Batley: Butterworth, Morton, Buchanan, Mitsias, J Burton, White, D Gibbons, Gledhill, Leak, Cooper, Manning, Walshaw, Moore

Interchanges: O Burton, Senior, J Gibbons, Ward

Tries: Manning, Moore

Conversions: D Gibbons (2)

Penalties: D Gibbons

Castleford: Broadbent, Simm, Hodson, Mellor, Senior, Milnes, Miller, Hall, McShane, Westerman, Johnson, Martin, Horne

Interchanges: Hooley, Watts, Robb, Vete

Tries: Simm, Milnes, Senior (2), McShane, Miller

Conversions: McShane (2)