Castleford Tigers 21 Warrington Wolves 12 - new signings inspire impressive opening win
Off-season additions Niall Evalds and Jordan Turner made a big impact as Castleford Tigers got their season off to a winning start against Warrington Wolves.
Turner, playing on the left-wing, scored a brace of tries from passes by Evalds, who also touched down.
Castleford were full value for their 21-12 victory in Betfred Super League round one, despite some adversity.
They were without Danny Richardson through injury and his replacement at scrum-half, Gareth O’Brien, lasted only a quarter of the game before suffering a concussion which will rule him out of Friday’s derby against Leeds Rhinos.
That meant Paul McShane had to move into the halves, which Tigers had hoped to avoid this year, but he did his usual excellent job and the combination between Evalds and stand-off Jake Trueman showed lots of promise.
Oliver Holmes had a big game in the pack for Tigers and scored their opening try, after just four minutes.
Trueman slid a grubber behind Warrington’s line, Josh Charnley slipped and Holmes - chasing what had seemed like a lost cause - dived on the ball before it went dead.
Warrington responded immediately through Toby King also off a kick, this one a huge up and under by Stefan Ratchford.
Evalds thought he had it covered, but King picked his pocket to make the catch and touch down, though - unlike O’Brien moments earlier - Ratchford could not add the extras.
Warrington could have squared the scores from a penalty in front of the posts, after another shaky moment from Evalds, but opted to take a tap and that proved a mistake as Tigers’ defence, which looked in good shape, held out and they dominated the rest of the half to go in 10 points ahead.
Holmes went agonisingly close to a carbon copy of the opening try, again off a Trueman grubber which evaded Charnley, but this time the ball went dead; then the same player rampaged towards the line, but was well stopped by a terrific Blake Austin tackle.
Twelve minutes before the break Ratchford became the latest Warrington player to make a hash of a Trueman kick and in the resulting set Evalds showed why Tigers have signed him, two side-steps carrying him over the line when he had looked to be boxed in.
The full-back was a try-saver three minutes before the interval, preventing Daryl Clark getting the ball down after he forced his way over Tigers’ line from acting-half.
That was a big moment as Cas extended their lead moments later, on the final play of the half, when Turner went over from Evalds’ pass after he had been teed up by Trueman.
Ten minutes into the second half, video assistant James Child backed up referee Chris Kendall’s call of no try to Cheyse Blair from McShane’s low kick and Warrington were back in the contest in the next set as Daryl Clark scorched through the middle against his former club, from namesake Jason’s initial break.
Tigers regained control with the same move which brought them their previous try, Trueman and Evalds shifting the ball left for Turner to go over again and - after Mata’utia had failed with two attempts - McShane goaled off the touchline.
The reigning Man of Steel opened a three-score gap with a drop goal nine minutes from time, which meant Tigers had breathing space after Austin scored an unconverted try in the 76th minute following Ben Currie’s break through the middle
Castleford Tigers: Evalds, Olpherts, Mata’utia, Shenton, Turner, Trueman, O’Brien, Millington, McShane, Griffin, Holmes, Blair, Massey. Subs Watts, Milner, O’Neill, Smith.
Warrington Wolves: Ratchford, Lineham, Wrench, King, Charnley, Austin, Widdop, Hill, Walker, Cooper, Currie, Hughes, Philbin. Subs J Clark, D Clark, Mulhern, Ashton.
Referee: Chris Kendall (Huddersfield)