Cas battle but fall to last game of the season defeat
Posted: Thursday 16th September 2021 - 10:30 PM
Castleford Tigers put in an incredible fightback in the second-half but were beaten by Warrington Wolves by 24 points to 40 in their final match of the campaign.
Daryl Powell made a few alterations after last weekend’s defeat at Hull KR for the final home match of his Castleford coaching career. Jordan Turner moved back out to the wing with Gareth O’Brien coming back into the halfs. Paul McShane returned to hooker after injury and Grant Millington replaced Daniel Smith at prop. Oliver Holmes unfortunately missed out on his final fixture at Wheldon Road before moving on to pastures new due to picking up a knock which meant Alex Foster deputising.
It was an emotional night for players and coaches as the likes of Holmes, Millington, Michael Shenton, Peter Mata’utia, Jesse Sene-Lefao, Foster and Powell all saying goodbye to the Fords faithful at home for the final time.
Gareth O’Brien got the final game of the season at The Mend-A-Hose Jungle underway, and it was the hosts with the incredible backing of the crowd who tested the opposition defence first. A brilliant offload from Turner released Shenton on the left and the centre darted forward but was stopped on the 10 metre line. Danny Richardson booted high on the last towards the posts, Millington flicked the ball backwards, but the Tigers were eventually denied 15 metres out.
After surviving that period of pressure, Wire then quietened the raucous crowd by grabbing the opening try of the night. Jake Mamo managed to find Matty Ashton on his shoulder for the full-back to stroll over from just over 10 metres. Stefan Ratchford was successful with his first conversion of the night.
Moments later and the visitors were two tries up. A bulldozing line break from Chris Hill opened up the field inside the Castleford half and the forward was able to offload the ball into the hands of Mamo for the Australian to race over under the sticks. Ratchford added the extras to take Warrington’s advantage to 12 points in the first ten minutes of the contest.
Cas were on the back foot, however that wasn’t going to deter them from trying to drag themselves back into the game. They opened up Wire on a couple of occasions just after the 15 minute mark, although both chances went begging as Derrell Olpherts spilt forward out wide before Olpherts’ flicked pass to Niall Evalds went out of play.
O’Brien was trying to create something for his side with high kicks towards the line and made a scoot for the goal line himself with 20 minutes gone but was challenged just short.
The visitors took their lead to over two tries as they were awarded a penalty after a boot from George Williams came off the head of Nathan Massey and the prop was adjudged to be offside. Ratchford asked for the kicking tee and slotted the penalty through the posts.
With thirteen minutes of the first half to go, the Wolves struck for their third try of the match. A Gareth Widdop kick bounced wickedly away from Evalds on the 20-metre line and Ashton was in the right place at the right time to catch to sprint over unopposed. Ratchford kept his 100% record to take the scores to 0-20.
Warrington were clinical on the night, and they punished the Tigers again through Mamo. As Cas took the play out wide left on the last, a misplaced pass 20 metres out was pounced on by the centre and he used his speed to burst down the touchline and dotted down in the corner. Ratchford did well to convert from out wide.
The hosts came excruciatingly close to claiming their first try with 35 minutes on the clock. O’Brien nudged through a dangerous low kick towards the try line, Mata’utia dived and got a hand to it but didn’t manage to ground the ball.
Shenton was forced off with a few minutes to go before the break after it looked like he injured his shoulder in a tackle and the centre was applauded off by his adoring fans in the Wheldon Road End as the legend’s final Cas appearance ended prematurely.
The second half began with Wire continuing their dominance as they crossed five minutes into the second period. An offload from Paul McShane was just behind Richardson and the ball was scooped up by Robbie Mulhern who made his way from halfway to the 20-metre line and handed the ball to Ashton to dive over for his hat-trick. Ratchford made no mistake again from the tee.
Castleford kept coming forward but couldn’t take their chances. Some quick hands from Richardson almost put Turner in by the corner flag before O’Brien pinched a Widdop offload by the line to touch down but the #31 was offside beforehand.
The Fords’ spirit wasn’t broken and they roared back into the game with three tries in rapid succession. First it was Mata’utia who burst over from five metres out after some fantastic quick hands from Evalds to hand the centre the ball. Richardson added the two points.
Mata’utia then claimed a brace on his final Castleford match a couple of minutes later and again it was Evalds who created the try for the #3 to charge over. Richardson slotted from the tee for the scores to read 12-32.
The Tigers’ incredible second-half momentum was helped by Josh Charnley getting sent to the bin and Cas took full advantage as a minute later Turner skidded over in the corner as the Wheldon Road End went wild. Richardson did brilliantly to convert from out wide to close the contest even further.
It was a phenomenal effort from the hosts to pull themselves back into the fixture and the crowd were right behind them as they felt the comeback was on. They were riding a crest of a wave as a high kick ricocheted into the open arms of Millington who got the ball down to score on his final Jungle appearance. Richardson booted the ball through from in front of the posts to close the game to eight points.
A minute later the momentum swing was clear to see as Mike Cooper was shown a red card for a shoulder charge on Liam Watts.
With just over ten minutes to go Warrington had managed to stem the flow of Castleford attacks and were awarded a penalty 10 metres out. Ratchford was accurate with his kick once again to stretch Wire’s lead to 10 points.
The Wolves wrestled back control in the final few minutes and scored the last try of the game to seal the win after a ripped pass out left by Williams for Connor Wrench to gather and cut in to skid over. Widdop took up the kicking duties and converted for the Tigers’ final game of the season to end in a spirited 24-40 defeat.
Full-time: Castleford Tigers 24 – 40 Warrington Wolves
Castleford: Evalds, Olpherts, Mata’utia, Shenton, Turner, O’Brien, Richardson, Griffin, McShane, Millington, Foster, Sene-Lefao, Massey
Interchanges: Watts, Milner, Smith, Matagi
Tries: Mata’utia x2, Turner, Millington
Goals: Richardson (4/4)
Warrington: Ashton, Thewlis, Mamo, Wrench, Charnley, Widdop, Williams, Hill, Ratchford, Cooper, Currie, Hughes, Philbin
Interchanges: Austin, Clark, Mulhern, Longstaff
Tries: Ashton x3, Mamo x2, Wrench
Goals: Ratchford (7/7), Widdop (1/1)
Sin bin: Charnley
Sent off: Cooper
Golden Gamble winning no. = 20303
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