Young Tigers battle hard at Widnes
Posted: Sunday 12th January 2020 - 4:38 PM
An inexperienced Castleford squad put up a courageous fight in a 32-10 pre-season defeat at Widnes.
The Tigers travelled west to face a near full-strength Vikings side coached by ex-Australian national boss Tim Sheens and he named off season signings Logan Tomkins and Matty Smith in the home team’s line up after their decision to drop down from Super League to play in the Betfred Championship with Widnes.
It contrasted against a very youthful Cas line-up made up largely of homegrown academy and reserves players with England Youth full back Bailey Hodgson, winger Caelum Jordan and hooker Cain Robb all stepping up from last year’s impressive under-16s side.
A smattering of experience came from the likes of Greg Eden, Calum Turner, Tyla Hepi and Jacques O’Neill as head coach Daryl Powell opted to keep the majority of his first team squad back to feature in next week’s home friendly against Toronto in Michael Shenton’s testimonial at the Mend-A-Hose Jungle.
The opening quarter saw the Vikings open up a 10-0 lead courtesy of tries from Jake Spedding and Deon Cross, but the young Fords were more than competitive early on as they kept Widnes at bay with some valiant defence, led by excellent tackles from Hepi and Brad Martin on their own line, whilst in possession Hepi and Sam Hall managed to get nice offloads away as they tried to spring a gap in the home defence.
The best opportunity for the Tigers came to Caelum Jordan after Turner had forced a repeat set with a neat chip over the top. From the field position, Cas worked it right but Jordan was stopped just short as he went for the line playing in an unfamiliar position on the wing.
However, Cas’ try was building and it came via a lovely passage of play started and finished by winger Lewis Carr. First, he gathered a high kick in his own quarter and launched a counter-attack with a 50-metre dash up the left wing. From there, Cas made the field position count as Turner and Eden combined to create an overlap out wide and the full back’s cut-out pass sent Carr strolling over in the corner to cut the arrears to six points.
Whilst the Tigers fully deserved to be in the contest given their efforts in the opening half-hour there was no doubt it had taken plenty of juice out of the tanks and Widnes capitalised with three quickfire scores either side of half-time to put the game to bed. Pat Moran was the next over as he crashed over from close range before Lloyd Roby and Jack Johnson both scored on the left flank early in the second half to push the score out to 26-4, ex-England international Smith now on to pull the strings for the Championship side.
Again, to their credit, Cas fought their way back into the contest but lacked the accuracy to break through the Widnes ranks as coach Daryl Powell rotated several changes. Centre Brad Graham had a half chance only to be called back for an obstruction call on the play, whilst Carr couldn’t gather in a well-timed long pass from Hodgson as he again looked for space.
There was no doubt the Tigers deserved another score for their efforts and Carr duly obliged with his second of the afternoon as he finished some sharp hands in midfield. A series of quick passes opened up the gap for Gregory and he kept his cool to find Carr in space for an easy finish out wide, Graham converting from the touchline.
Cas pressed for another score but a handling error in midfield gave Widnes one last chance and they capped the scoring as Ted Chapelhow forced his way over next to the posts.
Full Time: Widnes Vikings 32-10 Castleford Tigers
Owens, Johnson, Roby, Spedding, Cross, Craven, Lyons, J Chapelhow, Tomkins, T Chapelhow, Wilde, Baker, Moran
Smith, Farnworth, Dwyer, Cooper, Edge, Patton, Dugdale, O’Neil
Tries: Spedding, Cross, Moran, Roby, Johnson, T Chapelhow
Conversions: Owens (4/6)
Eden, Jordan, Storey, Graham, Carr, Turner, Schofield, Hall, Jinks, Hepi, Summers, Martin, O’Neill
Hodgson, Donnelly, Peachey, Attley, Gregory, Robb, Hawksworth, Parker
Tries: Carr (2)
Conversions: Graham (1/1), Turner (0/1)
*Match report by Matt Holden
**Photography by Melanie Allatt Photography
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