Cas into Challenge Cup final!
Posted: Sunday 6th June 2021 - 12:15 AM
Castleford Tigers put in an incredible Betfred Challenge Cup semi-final performance at Leigh Sports Village to seal their passage to the final at Wembley with a 35-20 victory over Warrington!
Daryl Powell made plenty of changes to the side that were beaten by Leeds at The Mend-A-Hose Jungle in their previous fixture. Niall Evalds, Michael Shenton, Jake Trueman, Gareth O’Brien, Nathan Massey, and Adam Milner were all absent from the defeat to the Rhinos but were given a semi-final starting slot.
O’Brien got the match underway, and Wire threatened in the opening moments as their first set put them 10 metres from the line on the last. Gareth Widdop hoisted a high kick towards the line, but O’Brien was equal to it and caught well.
Cas’ first major foray into Wolves territory ended with Trueman producing a cheeky kick in behind, it bounced awkwardly in the corner and the ball had to be slapped out by a Wire hand. The Tigers regained possession from that, but Derrell Olpherts fumbled as the ball came out to him on the right.
Widdop scored a hat-trick on his last appearance against Castleford and the scrum-half looked dangerous once again. Just over 10 minutes into the game he looked to have unlocked the Cas defence with a chip and chase, however, Olpherts did brilliantly to chip the ball up and claim it under pressure.
A few minutes later Wire were near the Tigers line again after a penalty gave them some strong field position. An incredible defensive effort kept Wire out as Blake Austin made a charge for the line but found Holmes in his way as he ripped the ball free.
The game really opened up as the Fords turned defence into attack and got the breakthrough when O’Brien found a gap in the Wire defence and darted over. The scrum half then added the extras from the tee.
Cas kept the pressure high and streamed forward as Holmes broke free and passed to Jordan Turner just inside the 20. The wing was stopped 10 metres out, but the tackler Jake Mamo was penalised for a high challenge and was sent to the bin.
This gave O’Brien a penalty opportunity at the sticks and he duly converted to give Cas an 8 point lead.
Evalds’ return to the starting thirteen really looked to have boosted the Tigers and he was finding space with ease. The full-back attacked down the Wolves’ left and provided the perfect pass for Turner to dive over for Cas’ second of the day. O’Brien looked to have a hard task on his hands from the conversion right out on the touchline but the scrum-half slotted his kick accurately.
The Tigers were on fire as it was Peter Mata’utia who was able to break the Wire line this time and get them up the field. Cas again went to the left edge as they attacked, and it was that man Turner again who acrobatically got the ball down in the corner for a brace. O’Brien was not able to add the two points on this occasion.
With just a minute left of the first half Cas got inside the Wire 20 and Paul McShane saw the opportunity to grab an extra point and the hooker got enough on his drop goal to take the scores to 19-0 at half-time.
Wolves began the second-half on the front foot and were helped by a Jesse Sene-Lefao shove under a high ball 10 metres from the Cas line. Wire desperately went for the line, but the Tigers managed to hold the man up.
Warrington got themselves on the scoreboard soon after as Widdop brought the play out to the left channel, and it was Ben Currie who cut over to score. Stefan Ratchford sliced his kick wide from the tee.
It only took a couple of minutes for Wire to score again as the momentum of the game swung their way. Some fast hands released Mamo who burst through and was clear on the right-hand side to go over. Ratchford missed his second conversion of the day for the scores to stay at 19-8.
Cas responded to Wolves’ early second-half pressure in the best way possible after a pass went out of play from Warrington inside their own 10 metre line. Cas pressed forward and it was a bit of Evalds magic that unlocked the door for Jesse Sene-Lefao to score. O’Brien missed the conversion.
Warrington were still scrapping for everything though and after a high tackle put Jacques O’Neill in the bin they pushed forward. Wolves did well to keep the ball alive and it was Widdop who provided the pass for Toby King to cut the Tigers’ deficit. Widdop took up the kicking duties and was accurate from the tee.
The second-half kept swinging one way then the other and this time it was Castleford’s time to score. Some great work on the left edge gave Turner some space on the touchline to get the ball down for his hat-trick. O’Brien slotted his conversion to take the scores to 29-14.
Cas got another shortly after as a break from O’Brien saw him run free into the Warrington 20. McShane and Alex Foster created a brilliant pass and run around for the hooker to scurry over to give the Tigers some breathing space. O’Brien’s kick was wayward on this occasion.
Wire were not easing off however as a six again call got them closer to the Castleford try line and Josh Charnley sprinted over in the corner. Widdop made it 2 from 2 from the kicking tee.
The Tigers then gave themselves a little extra points advantage with 9 minutes to go as a penalty conceded by the Wolves in front of the posts was kicked over by the boot of O’Brien to make it 35-20.
As the clock ticked ever closer to the final whistle O’Brien put a penalty wide and Cas held firm to book their place in the Challenge Cup final!
Full-time: Castleford Tigers 35 – 20 Warrington Wolves
Castleford: Evalds, Olpherts, Mata’utia, Shenton, Turner, Trueman, O’Brien, Massey, McShane, Matagi, Holmes, Sene-Lefao, Milner
Interchanges: Watts, Foster, O’Neill, Clare
Tries: O’Brien, Turner x3, McShane, Sene-Lefao
Conversions: O’Brien (3/6)
Goals: O’Brien (2/3)
Sin bin: O’Neill
Warrington: Ratchford, Lineham, Mamo, King, Charnley, Austin, Widdop, Hill, Clark, Cooper, Currie, Hughes, Davies
Interchanges: Mulhern, Philbin, Akauola, Walker
Tries: Currie, Mamo, King, Charnley
Conversions: Ratchford (0/2), Widdop (2/2)
Sin bin: Mamo
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