A 20-minute first half hat-trick from flying winger Denny Solomona put Castleford Tigers in control on their way to a 46-22 victory over Wakefield Wildcats at the Mend-A-Hose Jungle.
Solomona is now just one behind the all-time Super League try record after producing three trademark classy finishes in the corner while half-backs Luke Gale and Rangi Chase both proved too hot for Wakefield to handle.
The Wildcats stuck to their task and restored some pride in the second half, but coach Chris Chester thought they were too soft in a crucial period in an opening half which ended with Cas 34-8 ahead.
Wakefield threatened first when in the second minute Tom Johnstone almost marked his return from injury instantly as he took Jacob Miller’s kick to the corner, but was unable to force his way over the line.
From Castleford’s first real attack they scored, however, as Luke Gale whipped over a long pass out to Solomona and the winger finished the move for the opening try.
After Craig Hall’s restart was allowed to bounce over the back line to force a drop-out, the Wildcats were quick to reply when Scott Moore was held up over the line then Reece Lyne proved too strong for Solomona in a one-on-one in the right corner.
Wakefield were soon back defending, though, after a 50 metre break down the middle by Gadwin Springer. With the visitors’ defence still stretched, Rangi Chase produced a bit of magic with a dummy to open up a gap he raced through for his first try on his return to the club.
Gale goaled and within seven minutes was on target again from the touchline after his pass had given Solomona the chance to produce a strong finish for his second try.
Solomona completed his hat-trick with a clever finish, stretching out well following another Gale pass and with the conversion added it was 22-4.
Wakefield got back into it for a spell off the back of three successive penalties and scored when Johnstone dived over in fine style from Liam Finn’s pass.
But the Tigers scored again five minutes before half-time as half-backs Chase and Gale combined and the latter produced a superb inside pass to send Luke Dorn over for a try goaled by Gale.
Johnstone was held up over the line and Joe Arundel went close soon after as the Wildcats kept their efforts up. However, they conceded again right on the hooter when Paul McShane collected a loose ball to dart over for another try goaled by Gale to make the interval score 34-8.
Wakefield scored first after the break as sloppy defence allowed Bill Tupou to score after Ryan Hampshire had dropped Finn’s goal and the Wildcats players were quicker to react to the loose ball.
But any hopes of a comeback were soon dashed as Jake Webster charged over from Gale’s superb flat pass and Gale’s goal made it 40-12.
Cas were reduced to 12 men on 58 minutes when Hampshire was sin-binned for holding down in a tackle too long close to his line. It was unfortunate for him as he had just raced the length of the field to catch the flying Johnstone who had gone clear after intercepting Chase’s pass and had made a fantastic try-saving tackle.
With their extra man Wakefield scored when Nick Scruton powered over from close range after two men had been held up over the line.
Another try soon followed from Johnstone, who went over in the corner from Hall’s pass.
But it was Cas who had the last word when Gale backed up McShane’s superb break from acting half to get the try his display deserved. His seventh goal completed the scoring at 46-22.
Scorers - Castleford: Tries Solomona 3, Chase, Dorn, McShane, Webster, Gale; goals Gale 7. Wakefield: Tries Lyne, Johnstone 2, B Tupou, Scruton; goal Finn.
Castleford Tigers: Dorn; Hampshire, Minikin, Webster, Solomona; Chase, Gale; Patrick, Milner, Springer, O Holmes, Savelio, Moors. Subs: McShane, Millington, Cook, Maher.
Wakefield Wildcats: Hall; Lyne, Arundel, B Tupou, Johnstone; Miller, Finn; Scruton, Moore, Arona, Molloy, A Tupou, Harrison. Subs: Sio, Simon, Yates, Anderson.
Referee: Gareth Hewer.