Memorable win for Castleford at Wigan after “awesome” defensive effort

Jake Webster goes over to score the first try for Castleford Tigers at Wigan. Picture: Jonathan Gawthorpe
Jake Webster goes over to score the first try for Castleford Tigers at Wigan. Picture: Jonathan Gawthorpe

Top of the table Castleford Tigers produced their best defensive display of the season as they ran out 27-10 winners away to reigning champions Wigan Warriors.

Daryl Powell’s men were not at their sharpest in attack - or were not allowed to be - but defended their line for all they were worth at times to break the hearts of a Wigan side without several of their big hitters.

Castleford also had their injury problems as they lost skipper Michael Shenton in the warm-up and had to make a late reshuffle with Joel Monaghan brought in after he had initially been left out in favour of the fit again Greg Minikin.

They looked out of sorts at the start as they dropped the ball three times in the opening seven minutes and gave away three early penalties.

They were forced into some desperate goal-line defence, but did well to keep their hosts out with Ryan Sutton and Sam Powell held up over the line and a goal-line drop-out survived.

Cas finally got a foothold in the game and after choosing to run a penalty near the Wigan line they were rewarded with the opening try.

On 23 minutes Ben Roberts came up with a fine short pass that sent Jake Webster over for a try converted by Luke Gale.

Two minutes later Jesse Sene-Lefao, recently on as a substitute, produced a terrific offload on half-way, Zak Hardaker took the ball in full stride and made good ground before finding Gale in support to sprint clear for an excellent try.

Gale kicked the conversion and added a penalty to make it 14-0 after a Roberts kick and Joel Monaghan tackle forced a drop-out.

Wigan hit back to score their first points on 34 minutes when Morgan Escare, who had a good record of scoring against the Tigers when a Catalans player, charged through a gap for a try he was unable to convert.

Further pressure from the Warriors towards the end of the half was repelled and Cas led 14-4 at the break.

The Tigers made a blistering start to the second half as Sene-Lefao broke through a couple of tacklers and burst over the line for a try goaled by Gale.

Remarkably there were no more scores for half-an-hour as both teams cancelled each other out with strong defensive play, making their opponents kick on the last tackle from a long way out.

George Williams forced a drop-out with a grubber kick defended by Monaghan and penalties kept the Tigers pinned back for a long spell. But once again they defended heroically and Wigan were crucially denied any points in this period.

The hosts did finally break through eight minutes from time as Tom Davies broke well down the right and Escare backed up to race over for a try he converted.

More pressure immediately followed with the Warriors sniffing a big comeback, but it was all over for them as Greg Eden intercepted a Joel Tomkins pass near his own line and raced more than 90 metres for the killer try.

Gale added the conversion and put the icing on the cake with a drop-goal in the last minute to complete a famous away win.

Head coach Powell praised his side’s resilience and defence.

He said: “It wasn’t all singing, all dancing tonight, it was a tough old fashioned game of rugby league and we had to work hard.

“We got put under a lot of pressure and we had to dig ourselves out of some tough scenarios.

“They came after us and they made life difficult for us, but we found a way to score points.

“The pleasing thing was that when you are not at your best and teams are coming after you that you still win games. Tonight was a big win for us.

“I thought our defence was superb, the line speed. We had Wigan under control in the second half.

“Credit to them they found a way to get out and they nearly got us at the end, it was getting a bit tight. But it was really pleasing for us to have taken such steps forward that we feel we can go anywhere and dig in and fight hard.

“It was an awesome defensive performance from us tonight.”

Scorers - Wigan: Tries Escare 2; goal Escare. Castleford: Tries Webster, Gale, Sene-Lefao, Eden; goals Gale 5; drop-goal Gale.

Wigan Warriors: Escare; Davies, Forsyth, Isa, Marshall; Williams, Leuluai; Nuuausala, Powell, Flower, J Tomkins, Farrell, Sutton. Subs: Clubb, Tautai, Gregson, Bretherton.

Castleford Tigers: Hardaker; Minikin, Webster, Monaghan, Eden; Roberts, Gale; Massey, McShane, Cook, Holmes, McMeeken, Milner. Subs: Moors, Sene-Lefao, Springer, Chase.

Referee: Robert Hicks.

Half-time: 4-14.

Attendance: 12,423.