Castleford Tigers surrendered their unbeaten home record as they lost 18-6 to fast improving Warrington Wolves at a soggy Mend-A-Hose Jungle.
Daryl Powell’s men faced tough conditions for the second time over Easter, but unlike at Wakefield on Friday they could not get ahead and chasing a match in this weather proved beyond them.
With standing water on four parts on the pitch it was always going to be hard to score points, but Warrington found a way in the first half and their 10-0 interval lead had them in charge.
It was soon clear that chances would be hard to come by and every scoring opportunity would have to be taken.
The Tigers put themselves in danger right from the kick-off as they let the ball bounce over the back line and the following drop-out only just made it past the 10 metre line.
They survived after the Wolves came up a handling error and forced some pressure of their own when Luke Gale’s high kick to the corner was knocked on by Josh Charnley.
The resulting attacking set came to nothing, however and Warrington survived again when Jake Webster was tackled just short of the line on a sixth tackle running play.
It was the visitors who finally broke the deadlock with Stefan Ratchford kicking a penalty from 25 metres out after Cas had been penalised for interference after a completed tackle.
A Jake Trueman grubber was just too long as the Tigers looked to hit back, but the Wolves got on top for a spell off the back of a good break by Jack Hughes.
Two goal-line drop-outs were forced before Warrington were awarded a controversial penalty close to the line after they had lost the ball, referee Robert Hicks deeming that the home side had strayed offside. Ratchford kicked the goal and it was 4-0.
The final play of the half proved massive for Warrington as they caught the Tigers out on their left side and Toby King finished off a rare flowing move for the first try. With Ratchford adding a touchline conversion they had taken their lead out to 10-0.
Cas came out for the second half strongly with Gale forcing a goal-line drop-out. Tom Lineham went from diving to defend the kick at one end to going close at the other end, attempting to dive over from acting half only to be tackled just short.
The Tigers enjoyed a spell of pressure off the back of another Gale kick resulting in a drop-out.
From the next set Gale’s kick deflected off a visiting player and Oliver Holmes pounced on the loose ball over the line to put some points on the board at last for the hosts. Gale’s conversion went in off the post and at 10-6 Cas were right back in it.
They looked to have at least levelled it when Jake Webster looked to have hacked on Gale’s grubber that had landed in the water patch and dropped on the ball over the line. But Hicks ruled no try, saying the ball had been kicked out of Ratchford’s hands, and penalised the Tigers for dissent when they showed what they thought of the decision.
With chants of “cheat” ringing round the ground and aimed at the official he awarded the Wolves another penalty in kickable range and Ratchford took the opportunity to stretch his side’s lead to six points.
Cas tried in vain to hit back as handling errors denied them scoring chances and Warrington clinched victory in the last minute when former Tiger Daryl Clark went over from acting half. Ratchford goaled as the hooter sounded and the Tigers were harshly defeated by 18 points to six.
Scorers - Castleford: Try Holmes; goal Gale. Warrington: Tries King, Clark; goals Ratchford 5.
Castleford Tigers: Trueman; Minikin, Webster, Shenton, Clare; Roberts, Gale; Massey, McShane, Watts, Holmes, McMeeken, Milner. Subs: Moors, Millington, Foster, Cook.
Warrington Wolves: Ratchford; Lineham, Atkins, King, Charnley; Brown, Roberts; Hill, Clark, Cooper, Currie, Hughes, Westwood. Subs: Murdoch-Masila, Philbin, Crosby, Akauola.
Referee: Robert Hicks