Tigers Terrific in Season Opener

Posted: Sunday 28th March 2021 - 5:00 PM

Emerald Headingley was the venue for Cas’ opening Betfred Super League fixture as they ground out a 21-12 win off the back of inspired performances from Jake Trueman and Paul McShane as well as their new signings.

The Tigers’ side featured competitive debuts in the Black and Amber for fullback Niall Evalds and Jordan Turner, demonstrating his versatility by starting on the wing. The strength of depth for the Tigers was underlined with Gareth O’Brien starting at scrum half with Danny Richardson rested as a precaution. Elsewhere props George Griffin and Liam Watts returned to the Tigers’ matchday 17 after missing pre-season action.

There was to be no star-studded debut of Greg Inglis for the Fords’ opposition, but mercurial half backs Blake Austin and Gareth Widdop looked to link up with their marauding pack headed by returning Captain Jack Hughes, whilst the name most familiar to Tigers’ fans, Daryl Clark, began the game from the bench.

The opening stages were cagey as both sides marched up and down the field looking to settle the nerves. Cas began to tighten the screw after Peter Mata’utia put Griffin in the clear and then Jake Trueman managed to slot in a short kick which eluded Charnley and Oliver Holmes managed to expertly dab down just before the ball bounced out the back of the in-goal area to give the Tigers an early score, and Gareth O’Brien calmly knocked over the conversion to add to the early lead.

Their advantage didn’t last long as Warrington struck back shortly after from a high bomb which was gathered expertly by Toby King, off the fingertips of Niall Evalds, to score. This galvanised the Wolves and after a penalty for offside against the hosts, they were knocking on the door of the Cas tryline, with only scrambling Tigers’ defence preventing a quick second score. Shortly thereafter another probing kick caused problems for Cas with Gareth O’Brien collecting the ball from an offside position and Cas did well to survive another set of six close to their own line.

On a windy day, Warrington’s kicking game was high-risk, high-reward and this was proven after one of Widdop’s bombs sailed out on the full near halfway giving Cas the impetus they needed to survive Warrington’s onslaught. It was then the Tigers’ turn to apply some pressure from the boot which Trueman did with another delicate, dribbling ball in behind, this time the bounce wasn’t as kind to Holmes and the chance to wider their narrow first lead half disappeared.

Mata’utia grabbed the game by the scruff of the neck midway through the 1st half with a sensational 40 yard break, before dummying the pass and finding Shenton out the edge, the ball was recycled back inside and Gareth O’Brien went very close before hitting his head as he surged for the line, unfortunately after a stoppage for treatment, he was deemed unable to continue, and replaced by Milner.

This didn’t deter the Tigers, who were making serious metres on the back of big carries from Liam Watts and Grant Millington. Trueman was continuing to wreck havoc with his left footed kicks, and after was one was fumbled by Stefan Ratchford, Cas received a repeat set and off the back of this, Trueman was able to find the dancing feet of Niall Evalds who waltzed past two defenders to dab down for his first Super League try for Cas!

Credit Warrington’s defence as it was their turn to hold on as the halftime hooter drew closer, defending the imposing figures of Watts with numbers before Lineham reacted well to smother Olpherts after claiming a kick.

Shortly before half time, a penalty for a ball steal gave the Fords an opportunity to strike. Jake Trueman was already demonstrating a formidable connection with Niall Evalds who attacked the line with pace and committed defenders before completing a pass to Turner to slide over and give his side a 14-4 lead after the first 40.

Steve Price’s side emerged the slightly stronger side from the break, but after rounding out the first half with a showing of his offensive prowess, Jordan Turner reminded fans he’s no slouch in defence, shutting down Connor Wrench on the last tackle to force a turnover as Wire pushed for a second score.

Weathering the Wire storm meant Cas had little in the way of attack for a spell, however a penalty gave Cas great field position and they looked to have scored a fourth try through Cheyse Blair, however when referred to the video ref, he was adjudged to have knocked on as he looked to ground the ball. From the resulting set, Warrington’s two Clarks combined for the half’s first points. A missed tackle on Jason saw him put his namesake Daryl in the clear and he seared past several defenders to score.

Ill discipline from Daryl Powell’s side was hurting them as Wrench nearly went close again down the right edge, but Shenton smothered him well. Their reward for their sterling defence was to come not long after as on the back of a McShane break which put the Tigers not far out, then the lethal left edge struck again with Evalds linking up with Turner for his second try of the game. Man of Steel McShane took over the kicking duties and duly converted the extras from out wide.

Fatigue was playing a part now as metres became a little easier to make in the final 20 minutes. Strong team defence was on show from Castleford after their try, surviving set after set inside their own 20 metres line when Shenton was penalised for an apparent strip on an outstretched Charnley.

Nursing a two-score lead, Cas began to turn their attention to a drop goal to give themselves more of a cushion however Adam Milner nearly made this one point moot as he scooted out from dummy half and was hauled down just a yard short of Warrington's try line. After forcing a goal line drop out, the Ford’s settled themselves before McShane knocked over the drop goal to give his side some insurance going into the final 10 minutes. This proved crucial as Blake Austin crossed late, but Daryl Powell’s side were able to see out the final minutes of the game and secure a statement win in Round One of the Betfred Super League

Full Time: Castleford Tigers 21-12 Warrington Wolves 

Castleford Tigers

Evalds, Olpherts, Mata’utia, Shenton, Turner, Trueman, O’Brien, Griffin, McShane, Millington, Holmes, Blair, Massey

Milner, Smith, O’Neill, Watts

Tries: Holmes, Evalds, Turner

Conversions: O’Brien (1/1) Mata’utia (0/2) McShane (1/2)

Drop Goal: McShane

Warrington Wolves

Ratchford, Lineham, King, Wrench, Charnley, Austin, Widdop, Cooper, Walker, Hill, Currie, Hughes, Philbin


J. Clark, D. Clark, Mulhern, Ashton              

Tries: King, D. Clark, Austin

Conversions: Ratchford (0/2) Widdop (0/1)

*Match report by Sam Armstrong

** Photography by SWPix

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