GOALKICKING hero Kirk Dixon (pictured) was praised by Castleford Tigers coach Terry Matterson after his ‘golden point’ penalty goal earned a dramatic 20-18 win over Wakefield Wildcats in Saturday’s Carnegie Challenge Cup fifth-round derby.
The Tigers were 16-6 down early in the second half but tries from half-backs Rangi Chase and Danny Orr put them level.
Wakefield regained the lead 10 minutes from the end of normal time when Josh Veivers kicked his fifth goal from as many attempts.
But Dixon, who disputed a decision to disallow a conversion that appeared to go over one of the uprights, tied the scores for a third time to send the match into extra time.
A flurry of drop-goal attempts failed to break the deadlock but Dixon was given his chance in the last act of the first half of extra-time when Wakefield pair Frankie Mariano and Dale Morton were punished for an illegal ball steal.
The kick was near the touchline on the 40-metre line but Dixon found his accuracy to guide it between the posts to the delight of Castleford fans.
Matterson said: “I thought the one before went over and he thought so as well,” said Matterson. “He’s worked really hard on his goalkicking and I knew he was going to kick that last one.
“I’m really pleased for Kirk. A year and a half ago he had a blood clot in his calf and he had six months out of the game.
“He’s worked so hard on his goalkicking and that’s the culmination of it. It’s a good lesson for all our guys. If you continue to work hard, you’ll get better.”
Castleford chose to play with the wind behind them after captain Danny Orr won the toss and Matterson was relieved the tie did not go to a second period of extra time.
“If it had gone into the next 10 minutes, it would have been a bit of a worry for us,” he said.
“We were going up against that tough breeze and it was hard to get out of that area.”
The Tigers are in freefall in Super League, having lost their last four matches, but they are now just two games away from a first trip to Wembley since 1992 and Matterson is hoping the victory can kickstart their season.
“Credit to the guys, especially for the way we’ve been over the last three weeks,” he said. “We’ve been in a really tough place but that is going to do us the world of good.”
Wakefield coach John Kear, who has won the Cup with Sheffield Eagles and Hull, had no complaints about the decisive penalty and was typically gracious in defeat.
“I thought he reefed the ball out and that was the decision of the referee,” said Kear.
“Congratulations to Kirk Dixon. I thought he showed great composure to kick it from there. He’s the hero and good on him.
“It was a cruel way to lose it but I think the game has ignited the Challenge Cup for this year. It was a great game of rugby league and the drama and excitement at the end was great.
“It shows how much the Challenge Cup means to the players, the fans, the coaches and everybody.”