Tigers win play-off epic
Posted: Thursday 19th September 2019 - 10:46 PM
Castleford advanced in the play-offs and ended Warrington’s season with a 14-12 victory at the Halliwell Jones Stadium.
The Tigers travelled west missing a raft of first team players but pulled off a memorable win in the Eliminator Game as tries from Adam Milner and Jordan Rankin, with three goals from Peter Mata’utia earning them a thoroughly deserved victory.
In truth, it was built on a courageous defensive effort epitomised by late try-saving tackles from James Clare and Chris Clarkson in the final stages, with Mata’utia’s penalty in the 68th minute the difference between the sides as Cas advanced to face either Wigan or Salford next Thursday.
The Tigers came into the game missing a serious amount of strike power with last week’s starting back row in Mike McMeeken, Jesse Sene-Lefao and Nathan Massey all joining the likes of Luke Gale, Michael Shenton, Greg Eden, Junior Moors and Alex Foster on the sidelines. The latest absentees handed opportunities to youngsters Calum Turner and Jacques O’Neill as they came into the side, whilst Adam Milner handed head coach Daryl Powell a boost after recovering from illness to take his spot on the bench.
Warrington began the game in powerful fashion and had the better field position early on after some mistakes from Cas at both ends of the pitch. Stefan Ratchford missed the opportunity to put the home side in front in the sixth minute as he pulled his penalty attempt wide, but the better chances of the first half an hour went the Tigers’ way with Jordan Rankin looking his side’s most dangerous player.
The Cas full back made a searing break up the right flank after some good hands in midfield and was then denied another potential run to the line as Oliver Holmes’ quick pass under pressure went to the floor after a neat run around involving Chris Clarkson and Paul McShane.
However, the latter did create the game’s first try in the 28th minute as his clever kick from dummy half sent Milner over just a minute after he’d entered the field. Peter Mata’utia kicked the conversion having set up the chance with a grubber of his own to force a repeat set.
Some outstanding defence from Rankin and Holmes then managed to prevent Daryl Clark from levelling matters as they held him up under the posts, video replays rewarding their efforts, whilst Jake Trueman had a drop goal charged down and a darting run halted just short as he looked to stretch the advantage in the final minute before the break.
The Fords were good value for their 6-0 half-time lead but that disappeared in an instant at the start of the second half as Jake Mamo, on for the injured Blake Austin, crossed out wide on the left and Ratchford converted from the touchline to level things up.
Suddenly, the Wolves’ tails were up and Cas were under the cosh but Rankin hit back with a deserved score as he chimed into the line on the right edge to take half back Mata’utia’s pass at speed and stretch over the line. It was Mata’utia’s turn this time to add the extras from the sidelines to restore his side’s six-point advantage with 30 minutes remaining.
The next score looked to be crucial and Liam Watts looked to have got it as the contest entered the final quarter only to have the ball knocked from his grasp as he reached for the line in front of the travelling Fords fans, whilst Clare came up with a strong defensive effort to stop Tom Lineham in his tracks on the following set.
That tackle became doubly important a minute later when Mata’utia slotted his all-important penalty after back-to-back penalties had taken the Tigers upfield, a goal which then became equally vital when Chris Hill touched down shortly afterwards after Warrington went short from the kick-off.
That left Cas narrowly in front 14-12 heading into a very tense final 10, with the Wolves piling on the pressure at this stage. Ratchford missed a penalty from half way as he tried to tie the scores with five minutes remaining but the home side had one more chance after a series of offloads and an attack that went from one wing to another was eventually halted by Clarkson’s tackle to deny Mamo inside the Tigers red zone.
With less than a minute left on the clock at this stage and Bryson Goodwin sin binned for dissent, Cas ran down the clock to secure the spoils.
Full Time: Warrington Wolves 12-14 Castleford Tigers
Ratchford, Lineham, Goodwin, King, Charnley, Austin, Patton, Hill, Clark, Cooper, Currie, Hughes, Clark
Philbin, Westwood, Mamo, Murdoch-Masila
Tries: Mamo, Hill
Conversions: Ratchford (2/2)
Penalties: Ratchford (0/2)
Sin Bin: Goodwin
Turner, Clare, Mata’utia, Blair, Minikin, Trueman, Rankin, Watts, McShane, Millington, Holmes, Clarkson, Smith
Milner, Cook, Ellis, O’Neill
Tries: Milner, Rankin
Conversions: Mata’utia (1/1)
Penalties: Mata’utia (1/1)
*Match report by Matt Holden
**Photography by Melanie Allatt Photography
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