CASTLEFORD RUFC came out in top 10-8 in Saturday’s derby against neighbours Knottingley in a tough, hard fought Yorkshire Division One encounter.
With so little to choose between the teams the result was in doubt right down to the final minute and Knottingley could have snatched it right at the death, but in difficult conditions a long range penalty attempt drifted wide to the relief of the home side who needed the points to ease any relegation fears.
Knottingley could not have made a worse start as they conceded an early unconverted try. From a line-out taken cleanly on the 22-metre line by Paul Connell the Cas forwards got a drive on and powered over for the game’s opening score with skipper Chris Willett (pictured) the scorer. Ian Mattison could not add the conversion in the strong wind.
Only last ditch defence then kept out speedy winger Chris Brown and centre Chris Redfearn, but the visitors’ response was good with their forwards, ably led by Perry Morrison, Chris Walsh and in-form skipper Carl Clayton, picking and driving to get on the front foot. Castleford tried to clear their lines with a kick, but winger Paul Rockett brought the ball strongly and handed onto full-back Brad Rowlandson, who beat several players only to be brought down by the cover defence within sight of the line.
Back to back penalties put Castleford into their opponents’ half, but Knottingley’s defence stood firm and a penalty attempt missed the target. One threat was well snuffed out by Paul Rockett after the hosts had tried to chip ahead.
Back came the visitors and again Rowlandson went close. Another chance followed when they had men over, but Castleford conceded a penalty for offside to prevent the score. However, from the line-out that followed the penalty the Knottingley forwards were able to drive on, creating an opportunity for Andy Lund to go in for a try that levelled the scores, the conversion just dropping short from touch.
Castleford were able to regain the lead with a great move in the 32nd minute when a poor tackle enabled them to break the first line of defence and then with the ball in the backs they were able to score an unconverted try in the corner. Will Nutbeen started the attack, taking the ball after a Knottingley kick, and he fed centre John Bramham who in turn handed over to winger Martin Dye, who raced over in the corner.
On the stroke of half time Mattison was unable to get the distance with a huge penalty kick attempt so Castleford went into the break with a 10-5 lead.
The second half was all about the defences as neither side was able to add any more tries. But Knottingley went close several times.
An outstanding kick from Steven Rockett caused panic in the home line, but the pressure from the visitors was to come to nothing as Cas were awarded a free-kick. Again the visitors went close as the forwards worked well, Duncan Barbour, Barry Leadbitter and Simon Chippendale leading from the front to release prop Steven Berry, whose charge for the line came to nought as he stepped into touch.
Knottingley did pull three points back when a penalty allowed Steven Rockett to kick a goal and at 10-8 it was anybody’s game in the closing stages.
Knottingley were reduced to 14 players when Steven Seed was yellow carded, but kept up the pressure and won a last-gasp penalty chance only for the kick to miss the target and time to run out for them.
For Castleford, forwards Connell and Nutbeen were outstanding and captain Willett led from the front in a commanding performance. In the backs centres Redfearn and Bramham were always threatening, ably supported by wingers Brown and Dye and full-back Dale Turner.