LEAGUE Shield winners Castleford Tigers scored three tries in a 19-minute second-half spell in last night’s 24-16 win at Huddersfield Giants.
Leading try scorer Greg Eden took his tally to 36 with a 52nd minute touchdown as the Tigers recovered from 12-6 down at the break to maintain their momentum.
Huddersfield’s defeat effectively ended their top-four play-off hopes.
The Tigers, who have won all but one of their last 16 league and Super 8s games, never got out of second gear in the opening period, despite taking an early lead.
Huddersfield deserved their half-time lead, but couldn’t live with Castleford when the visitors stepped on the gas for a spell immediately after the interval.
It was Castleford’s first game since winning the league leaders’ shield 15 days earlier and they looked rusty for much of it, but their ability to raise their level when they needed to got them home.
Centre Jake Webster marked his 200th appearance in the European game with the opening try, after 12 minutes.
He crossed from Ben Roberts’ pass after Huddersfield had put themselves under pressure with a penalty, Ukuma Ta’ai holding Nathan Massey down, in their own half.
Luke Gale converted, but Huddersfield created the better chances after that. Jesse Sene-Lefao preserved the visitors’ lead with an outstanding tackle on Jermaine McGillvary, but Oliver Roberts got Giants on the scoreboard at the start of the second quarter.
He powered over from Danny Brough’s pass, but it was Sebastine Ikahihifo’s tricky run on the previous play that created the opportunity.
Castleford’s defence did well to hold Sam Rapira up over the line, but a mistake by Greg Eden led to Huddersfield’s second try six minutes before half-time.
The winger spilled Brough’s high kick near his own line and Paul Clough went over in the set from the penalty.
Brough had failed to convert Roberts’ try, so Jordan Rankin took over kicking duties. He added the extras and landed a penalty after the half-time hooter.
Kruise Leeming was laid out, but the officials did not spot the culprit and the incident was placed on report.
Tigers were ahead with 12 minutes of the restart after they took advantage of a Giants error and two penalties.
Ben Roberts sliced through for a fine solo try on 44 minutes and then Tigers tapped a penalty in front of the posts and Gale and Zak Hardaker linked from right to left to send Eden diving over at the corner.
Gale converted both, the second off the touchline, to make it 18-12 and he supported Eden’s break to score the visitors’ fourth try, on 62 minutes, which he also improved.
The scrum-half missed with a couple of drop goal attempts before Darnell McIntosh dived over at the corner to give Giants hope with three minutes left, but there was no conversion and Tigers held on with no late alarms.
Huddersfield Giants: Rankin, McGillvary, Cudjoe, Turner, McIntosh, Gaskell, Brough, Ikahihifo, Leeming, Wakeman, Ta’ai, O Roberts, Hinchcliffe. Subs Clough, Lawrence, Rapira, Mellor.
Castleford Tigers: Hardaker, Hitchcox, Webster, Shenton, Eden, B Roberts, Gale, Cook, McShane, Sene-Lefao, Moors, Foster, Massey. Subs Milner, Springer, Patrick, Larroyer.
Referee: Scott Mikalauskas (Warrington). Attendance: 6,284.