CASTLEFORD Tigers climbed above Leeds Rhinos to sixth place in Super League by snatching a late 26-20 win over Crusaders at Wrexham on Saturday evening.
The Welsh team, who included six of the seven players who had been suspended for the home loss to Hull KR a week ago, looked set to end a seven-game losing streak when they led 14-6 at the break
They then found themselves 20-12 ahead thanks to Jarrod Sammut’s intercept score in the second half, only to let the victory slip from their grasp.
Tries from loan duo Ben Davies and Rob Parker, who grabbed the match-winner with two minutes to go, clinched a win for the Tigers that had seemed unlikely for so much of a below-par contest.
The defeat was tough on rock-bottom Crusaders, who must feel like they may never taste success again in 2011 - for the third time in their last four home games they had missed out by the margin of just a converted try.
They werev ahead at half-time, despite the Tigers having opened the scoring when Jordan Thompson crashed over from close range.
Castleford’s lead lasted just five minutes though, Jason Chan fooled the visitors, and possibly some of his team-mates, by running it on the last, breaking through some paper-thin tackling to race clear to the line.
Lloyd White’s superb dummy sent him scampering in under the uprights to put the Welsh club ahead and they moved further clear before the break when Jordan Tansey climbed highest to claim Michael Witt’s bomb to the left.
Although Clinton Schifcofske missed two of his three conversion attempts, Crusaders went into half time with a comfortable eight-point cushion.
Their hopes of claiming a rare victory were dealt a blow right at the start of the second period, though, when Nick Youngquest accepted Dixon’s pass to canter over for a try against his former employers.
However, home nerves were steadied somewhat when Sammut perfectly read Ryan Hudson’s intended offload, gifting the half-back a breakaway score that Schifcofske converted to make it 20-12.
Castleford thought they had hit straight back with a second try from Youngquest, only for referee Ben Thaler to spot the pass to the winger from Brett Ferres had gone forward.
Crusaders had a try themselves chalked off for offside before Davies, on loan to the Tigers from Wigan, cut the gap with a try on his debut for the Yorkshire club.
The extras were added by Dixon, meaning the difference between the sides was down to a mere two points with over 20 minutes to play.
The Tigers looked certain to take the lead when Hudson broke free, only for fellow hooker Daryl Clark to spill his pass when the line was in his sights. That chance looked to have been their last until Parker plunged over at the death.
The video official eventually adjudged that Parker had grounded the ball on the line, meaning Crusaders’ wait for a win goes on a little longer. Dixon added the extras before finishing things off with a last-second penalty.