A last-gasp try by Luke Dorn saw Castleford Tigers down the reigning champions in an absolute classic Super League game at the Mend-A-Hose Jungle.
After leading for much of the game it looked like being heartbreak for the Tigers when Wigan’s Josh Charnley scored a late try and Matty Smith kicked a touchline conversion then a last minute drop goal to lead 31-30.
But the Tigers got the ball back from the restart and with the very last play of the game moved left to full-back Dorn, who dashed through a gap for a try that sealed an amazing win.
Marc Sneyd’s sixth goal completed the scoring and Castleford had a memorable 36-31 victory.
Cas could count themselves unlucky to be 24-22 behind at the break after they had made a lightning start only for the champions to hit back with the aid of some dubious decisions from the officials.
Before kick-off head coach Daryl Powell had spoken about the need for his side to make a strong start and they did that with two tries in the opening eight minutes.
First, Kirk Dixon went over in the corner following a fine handling move and Marc Sneyd converted. Then Luke Dorn crashed over from close range for a second try to make it 10-0.
Cas suffered a blow when winger Justin Carney was sin-binned for throwing a punch at John Bateman after objecting to the Wigan player’s roughing up.
But the Dorn try came when they were a man down and they scored again as Wigan full-back Matthew Bowen misjudged Sneyd’s bouncing kick and Adam Milner dropped on the loose ball for a try goaled by Sneyd. After 13 minutes it was 16-0 to the Tigers and the fans could hardly believe they were up against the reigning Super League champions.
Wigan were also lucky not to be down to 12 after Ben Flower’s high tackle on Dixon resulted in the Cas player going off injured, but he got away with just a penalty being given although the home winger has a suspected broken jaw.
The Warriors did then take advantage of their extra man to score two tries in three minutes, Bowen and Blake green going for tries. With Matty Smith adding a goal it was suddenly 16-10.
The gap came down to two points when Smith was awarded a controversial try after he appeared to lose the ball over the line chasing up his own grubber kick.
Back came Cas with Daryl Clark forcing his way over from close range and Sneyd’s goal made it 22-14.
However, Wigan finished the half strongly with Tony Clubb and Joe Burgess going over for tries, the latter after a definitely forward looking pass.
After the points spree in the first half, neither side were able to add to the scoreboard in the first 17 minutes of the second half as defences toughened up.
But the Tigers made a breakthrough when they worked space on the right and Weller Hauraki’s great pass gave Michael Channing an easy task to go over for a try superbly converted by Sneyd.
Three minutes later Flower was sin-binned for an alleged cannonball tackle and from the penalty Sneyd kicked another goal to make it 30-24.
Channing then had a “try” controversially disallowed for obstruction that only the officials seemed to spot and the same player came within inches of another score when following up his own kick over the line.
Cas fans could not believe it when Channing was denied again for a forward pass and the hosts’ inability to see off their opponents looked to have come back to haunt them in the 79th minute when Charnley took a high kick to score in the corner. Smith’s touchline conversion under pressure levelled the scores.
From the next set, Wigan worked their way down field and Smith landed a drop-goal that looked to have won the game for them only for that last-gasp effort by the Tigers to snatch the win they deserved.
Scorers - Castleford Tigers: Tries Dixon, Dorn 2, Milner, Clark, Channing; goals Sneyd 6. Wigan: Tries Bowen, Green, Smith, Clubb, Burgess, Charnley; goals Smith 3; drop goal Smith.
Castleford: Dorn; Dixon, Channing, Shenton, Carney; Sneyd, Finn; Lynch, Milner, Huby, Holmes, Hauraki, Millington. Subs: Massey, Clark, Mariano, Wheeldon.
Wigan: Bowen; Charnley, Sarginson, Thornley, Burgess; Green, Smith; Crosby, McIlorum, Taylor, Farrell, Bateman, Flower. Subs: Tomkins, Pettybourne, Clubb, James.
Referee: Robert Hicks.