Luke Dorn and Denny Solomona enjoyed a memorable day as Castleford Tigers clinched fifth place in Super League on an afternoon of celebration at the Mend-A-Hose Jungle.
Dorn scored on his final game before retiring while Solomona grabbed his seventh hat-trick of the year to become the club’s new record holder for tries in a season - as well as taking the overall Super League tries in a season record.
These feats were highlights of an entertaining last game of the season as the Tigers ran out 40-26 winners to make it five wins from seven Super 8s matches. The celebration feel began right from the team coming out as Dorn led the team out with his two children to a standing ovation.
Cas showed their intentions from their first play when they quickly spun the ball out wide, but Jake Webster dropped it.
Solomona came close to the opening score in the fifth minute when he collected a long pass by Luke Gale and raced for the line only to be well tackled just short.
Widnes did score two minutes later as Tom Gilmore’s kick was knocked back over the line by Hep Cahill and Connor Farrell dropped on the ball for a try converted by Lloyd White.
Only a good tackle by Dorn prevented another score soon after, but Cas gradually got their game together and came up with their first score on 16 minutes.
Gale kept the ball alive on a sixth tackle power play and good hands and an offload by Webster gave Dorn the chance to dive over in the corner.
A second try followed when Webster’s pass gave winger Solomona space to attack and he rounded full-back Rhys Hanbury for a try that equalled the Tigers’ all-time tries in a season record. Gale’s goal made it 10-6.
Cas stayed on top, but after Corey Thompson took a kick in back play he launched a great counter attack from Widnes that would have given them a try but for a good chase back and tackle by Solomona on Chris Dean.
Paul McShane was then deemed to have flopped on Dean to prevent him getting him up quickly and was sent to the sin-bin.
With a man less Cas scored their third try, however, as Solomona collected Gilmore’s kick near his own line and raced clear, running 90 metres downfield for the try that gave him the club record and the overall Super League tries in a season record.
The second half started poorly for the Tigers as a Gilmore high kick was knocked back and collected by Corey Thompson who had an easy job to run in for a try that went unconverted.
But normal service was soon resumed as Ben Crooks skipped inside a tackle to race over for a try goaled by Gale.
Three minutes later Gale’s grubber kick was perfectly judged for Solomona to pounce for his seventh hat-trick of the year and another Gale conversion made it 28-10.
Cas stayed on top and Matt Cook came up with his first try of the season after taking McShane’s pass close to the line..
Widnes went down to 12 men when Farrell was sin-binned for one of many holding down offences, and within two minutes the Tigers scored again when McShane jinked his way over in fine style. Gale’s goal proved the last of Castleford’s points, but they had done the job.
Mike McMeeken was unlucky to lose the ball reaching out to put it over the line, but Widnes scored all the points in the last 10 minutes with Patrick Ah Van, Farrell and Thompson all getting tries and at least one of them looking like dodgy decisions.
It did not matter as Cas got the win they wanted to end the season in fine style and give the retiring Dorn a fitting send off..
Scorers - Castleford: Tries Dorn, Solomona 3, Crooks, Cook, McShane; goals Gale 6. Widnes: Tries Farrell 2,Thompson 2, Ah Van; goals White 3.
Castleford Tigers: Dorn, Flynn, Minikin, Webster, Solomona; Hampshire, Gale; Cook, McShane, Springer, O Holmes, Savelio, Milner. Subs: Maher, Chase, Crooks, McMeeken,
Widnes Vikings: Hanbury; Thompson, Dean, Runciman, Ah Van; Mellor, Gilmore; J Chapelhow, White, Dudson, Whitley, Farrell, Cahill. Subs: Widnes. Subs: T Chapelhow, Leuluai, Heremaia, Manuokafoa.
Referee: Jack Smith