Tigers Claim Tight Victory
Posted: Sunday 11th February 2018 - 5:38 PM
After the disappointment of round one, Castleford Tigers bounced back to record their first win of the campaign on Sunday, defeating Widnes Vikings 13-12 in a tense affair.
Tries from Greg Minikin and Jy Hitchcox kept the Tigers firmly in the game in the freezing conditions, but Luke Gale’s second half drop-goal proved decisive.
The Tigers were gifted an opportunity inside the opening seconds, as Widnes failed to deal with a Jamie Ellis kick-off. The error brought about a five-minute stint on the Vikings’ line, but Castleford were unable to make the visitors pay.
The early pressure was significant however, with Widnes forced to drop the ball out three times inside the opening ten minutes.
With no points on the board in the initial stages, despite the chances, there was a strange, subdued atmosphere within the Mend-A-Hose Jungle. The game needed a score to set it alight.
As we got over the half-way mark of the first period, Castleford forced yet more repeat sets, but points were still at a premium.
It finally looked as if the deadlock was broken when Mike McMeeken raced through a gap in the Widnes line, but the four-pointer was brought back for an obstruction in the build-up.
Incredibly, it looked as if the sides were set to go into the sheds at half time scoreless but, in a relief to three-quarters of the ground, the Tigers finally get over the whitewash with the final play of the period.
From mid-field, the hosts spread the ball right through Ellis and it eventually found its way to Minkin, who did well to finish the only genuine chance he had received on the right edge of the half.
The Tigers started relatively brightly in the second half, but again points averted the hosts in agonising fashion.
After a disallowed Castleford try early on, the Vikings began putting together their best stint of the game.
Three straight sets camped on the Castleford line was always likely to bring about points, and back-rower Matt Whitley came up with them, beating Ben Roberts to a Tom Gilmore grubber kick to touch down. Gilmore added the extras to grant Widnes the lead.
As bodies began to tire, and frustrations set in, the game became a real arm-wrestle with just a couple of points separating the two outfits.
With 20 minutes to play, a Widnes knock-on presented an opportunity for Castleford, 30 yards out.
With the Wheldon Road faithful now right behind them, the Tigers made the most of it. It came from broken play on the last tackle, but there were few complaints as the ball was swung over to Hitchcox for the try. Gale knocked over the conversion to open up a four-point lead.
With tries so hard to come by in the bitter cold, it came as no surprise that the Tigers opted for the two points when they received a penalty soon after – and then went for a drop goal in the following set. In trademark fashion, Gale obliged.
The game was far from over though as, with just over five minutes remaining, Jay Chapelhow barged over the line to give us a one-score game once again.
You really could cut the tension within the Mend-A-Hose Jungle with a knife.
Gilmore, on two occasions, went for the one-pointer to level it and twice he failed, leaving the Tigers to hold on to the narrowest of wins.
Full Time: Castleford Tigers 13-12 Widnes Vikings
Roberts, Minikin, Webster, Shenton, Hitchcox, Ellis, Gale, Millington, McShane, Foster, Holmes, McMeeken, Milner
Moors, Massey, Sene-Lefao, Cook
Tries: Minikin, Hitchcox
Conversions: Gale (1/2)
Drop Goal: Gale
Hanbury, Ashall-Bott, Runciman, Inu, Marsh, Mellor, Gilmore, Chapelhow, Walker, Burke, Dean, Whitley, Houston
Wilde, Albert, Cahill, Olbison
Tries: Whitley, Chapelhow
Conversions: Gilmore (2/2)
Man of the Match: Greg Minikin
Golden Gamble: 22733
*Match Report by Ross Williams