Late drop goal defeats Tigers
Posted: Friday 6th March 2020 - 9:45 PM
Castleford lost out to a late drop goal as they went down 9-8 away to Warrington.
Both sides had their chances to secure the spoils in a low-scoring affair in the Betfred Super League but Blake Austin’s one-pointer with less than a minute left on the clock condemned the Tigers to a second defeat of the season.
The Tigers travelled to the Halliwell Jones Stadium in good form with four wins from their opening five matches in the competition but they lacked fluency throughout the 80 minutes and were left to rue three missed opportunities in the dying stages as they searched for a late winner of their own.
Cas started the content with Calum Turner drafted onto the wing as James Clare became the latest winger unavailable for selection, this time due to illness, whilst Cheyse Blair moved into the starting line-up and Jesse Sene-Lefao came onto the bench as Liam Watts missed out with a finger injury.
Looking to respond to a big defeat to Leeds last time out, the home side made the better start and dominated the field position in the opening 10 minutes without finding the game’s first points. Young Wolves centre Keanan Brand had the best opportunity but was stopped inches short by a try-saving tackle from Jake Trueman and from there the Tigers worked their work into the game although again they couldn’t find a way through a resilient Wolves defence.
Danny Richardson did at least ensure the Fords posted the game’s first points with a penalty goal whilst a searing break from Jordan Rankin through midfield gave his team another chance to attack but Paul McShane was bundled into touch as he tried to pinch a try down the blind-side on the last.
The Tigers were certainly giving the ball plenty of air whenever they neared the Warrington line but Turner was crowded out and forced back infield after a well-constructed shift play to the left whilst on the opposite flank Derrell Olpherts also looked to have an opportunity up the right touchline but Rankin couldn’t find his winger as his attempted cut-out pass under intense pressure drifted out of play.
Whilst both teams weren’t at their fluent best in a low-scoring first half, Warrington did ensure they went into the break with a narrow 4-2 lead courtesy of Tom Lineham’s try in the 26th minute.
Castleford’s second-half performances has been strong in recent victories over Wakefield and Hull KR and they again began brightly after the restart with a solid first set. However, Rankin was penalised on the last for taking out Stefan Ratchford in the air, despite appearing to be fairly contesting for Richardson’s high kick, and Warrington took advantage of a resulting run of three consecutive sets by slotting a simple penalty via Ratchford.
The Tigers’ challenge took a blow a minute later when Peter Mata’utia was forced from the field for a head assessment but Daryl Powell’s side adjusted well as Blair switched to centre with Sene-Lefao lining up in the back row. Blair went on to be influential straight away, too, as he swooped on a loose ball after Lineham fumbled Richardson’s spiralling bomb and it set the platform for Cas to retake the lead.
It came via a decision from the video referee who awarded a penalty try to Turner after skipper Michael Shenton had given his wing man a yard of space on the left touchline. The youngster couldn’t quite get the ball down as he went for the line but a high tackle in the act of scoring was enough to get the green light and Richardson tagged on the extras from in front to edge Cas in front 8-6.
Warrington responded well and had a sustained barrage on the Tigers’ try line with a number of repeat sets. Ratchford tied the scores with a penalty from in front of the posts but it could have been a lot worse for Powell’s men with Rankin twice forced into crucial tackles as the Wolves made breaks down their left flank before Blair pulled off another try-saver to half Daryl Clark inches short as he tried to take another Wire chance.
With the clock ticking, so began the inevitable search for a drop goal and unbelievably all four half backs on the field missed efforts in the final 10 minutes with Richardson twice, Trueman, Austin and Gareth Widdop all pulling attempts wide.
However, the final opportunity fell to Austin and he made no mistake from 20 metres out take the spoils.
Full Time: Warrington Wolves 9-8 Castleford Tigers
Ratchford, Charnley, Brand, King, Lineham, Austin, Widdop, Hill, Walker, Cooper, Currie, Murdoch-Masila, J Clark
Philbin, Akauola, D Clark, Mamo
Conversions: Ratchford (0/1)
Penalty: Ratchford (2/2)
Drop Goal: Austin
Rankin, Olpherts, Mata’utia, Shenton, Turner, Trueman, Richardson, Smith, McShane, Griffin, Blair, McMeeken, Massey
Millington, Holmes, Milner, Sene-Lefao
Conversions: Richardson (1/1)
Penalty: Richardson (1/1)
*Match report by Matt Holden
**Photography by Melanie Allatt Photography
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