CASTLEFORD TIGERS dug deep to record a ninth successive win over near-neighbours Wakefield Trinity last night.
The 11-6 success was Tigers’ fifth straight win and lifted them to third in Betfred Super League, but remarkably they failed to score a second-half try for the third game in a row.
Both teams put in a big effort in what was a real arm-wrestle in driving rain on a heavy pitch.
There were only a handful of try scoring chances, but also few errors and the result was in the balance throughout.
It was Castleford’s defence – and Luke Gale’s goal-kicking –which saw them home, as Trinity applied almost constant pressure after half-time.
They managed only one try, though and two Gale penalties preserved Tigers’ lead.
It was Castleford’s defence – and Luke Gale’s goal-kicking –which saw them homePeter Smith
Cas were 7-0 ahead at the interval, but having scored only three points in their two previous second halves, they were far from home and dry.
Trinity cut the gap to a point going into the final quarter and bombarded Trinity’s defence in a tense final 10 minutes, but could not find a way through and slumped to their third successive defeat.
The second half was a reverse of the first, when Tigers – without the injured nathan Massey – did most of the pressing, but managed only one try against a strong Wakefield defence.
Trinity had two serious attacks and both ended in a video referee decision going against them.
The first of those was after 13 minutes when Anthony England stormed over the line from Tyler Randell’s pass, but Oliver Holmes – who signed a new two-year contract earlier in the day – got underneath to prevent him touching down and force a knock-on.
Four minutes later Mike McMeeken broke the deadlock when he crossed from Ben Roberts’ pass.
Roberts had been named at full-back, with Jake Trueman in the stand-off role, but they swapped over on the field.
Gale booted the conversion and added a drop goal on 36 minutes to make it 7-0 at the break.
The one-pointer came in the set after David Fifita – named on the bench despite not being in the initial 19-man squad – had lost the ball driving for the line.
Referee James Child passed the decision on, to check for a ball steal, but video assistant Phil Bentham ruled a knock-on.
Trinity did all the attacking after the break and got over the line again through Keegan Hirst, but he was held up.
Having battered away for 19 minutes and been unable to crack the Cas rearguard, Trinity’s try came out of the blue when Liam Finn punted a kick from close to half-way and Ben Jones-Bishop won a foot race with James Clare to get the ball down.
Bentham gave the green light and Finn added the extras.
Just five minutes later Scott Grix fumbled Gale’s high kick and Tom Johnstone collected the ball in an offside position.
It was to the right of the posts, but Gale landed the resulting penalty.
With eight minutes left Gale kicked for touch with a penalty 40 metres out, then Cas won another for offside close to the line and this time he took the two.
Greeg Minikin knocked-on from the restart. A penalty kept the pressure on and Johnstone thought he had scored, but Child and Bentham both said no, awarding a drop out instead and Cas held on.
Wakefield Trinity: Grix, Jones-Bishop, Lyne, Tupou, Johnstone, Miller, Finn, England, Randell, Huby, Horo, Ashurst, Arona. Substitutes: Wood, Fifita, Hirst, Pauli.
Castleford Tigers: Roberts, Minikin, Webster, Shenton, Clare, Trueman, Gale, Cook, McShane, Millington, Holmes, McMeeken, Milner. Substitutes: Moors, Foster, Springer. Unused: Ellis.
Referee: James Child (Batley).