Four tries in a disastrous 10-minute spell after Mike McMeeken was sin-binned turned Castleford Tigers’ crucial Super Eights game against them when they lost 40-26 to Huddersfield Giants at the John Smith’s Stadium.
Daryl Powell’s men initially put off field problems and the absence of four key players behind them when they made a stunning start to go 10-0 up in their must-win against a team starting out just two points above them in the table.
Luke Gale jinked his way over for a fine solo effort after nine minutes and added the conversion then Ashley Gibson went over in the corner following a great run and pass by Ben Roberts.
But it all unravelled after McMeeken was yellow carded for a trip in the 18th minute and while he was off the field Huddersfield made hay.
Ukuma Ta’ai went through a gap while the Tigers defence was still reorganising
Jermaine McGilvary should then have been penalised for pushing out in a tackle, but the penalty went against Cas and within a minute the in-form wing powered over in the corner for his side’s second try to level the scores at 10-10.
Two minutes later McGilvary came up with a spectacular second try from long range, brushing off Luke Dorn to touch down in the corner.
And straight from the restart Huddersfield threw the ball about superbly before Aaron Murphy slipped out a pass for Jake Connor to go over in the corner.
The game settled down again when Cas were restored to 13 men, but they conceded against just before half-time when Joe Wardle sent Murphy over to make it 24-10.
The Tigers made a perfect start to the second half when within two minutes Dorn dummied to open a gap near the line and charged over for a try well converted by Gale.
But the hosts powered back and put Cas under heavy pressure. Jamie Ellis was ruled offside after touching down Brough’s kick and Leroy Cudjoe dropped the ball over the line chasing his own kick.
The Tigers survived and when they got back on attack they scored again as Roberts came up with a fine solo effort to get the score to within four points.
However, off the back of a controversial penalty to the hosts despite McGilvary shoving his elbow into Scott Wheeldon’s throat, the Giants scored the next crucial try when the impressive Wardle produced a nice finish to make it 28-20.
Former Cas player Ellis was fortunate to be given a try when he appeared to lose the ball going over the line, but the video replay showed he just kept his fingertip on the ball to touch it down. He added the goal and converted again after Eorl Crabtree went over from close range shortly after.
Castleford did have the consolation of scoring the try of the game two minutes from time when Dorn fielded a kick on his own line, beat three men and passed to flying winger Denny Solomona who then raced the length of the field.
Scorers - Huddersfield: Tries Taia, McGilvary 2, Connor, Murphy, Wardle, Ellis, Crabtree; goals Brough 2, Ellis 2. Castleford: Tries Gale, Gibson, Dorn, Roberts, Solomona; goals Gale 3.
Huddersfield Giants: Grix; McGilvary, Cudjoe, Connor, Murphy; Brough, Ellis; Crabtree, Robinson, Huby, Wardle, Hughes, Taia. Subs: Lawrence, Kopczak, Leeming, Smith.
Castleford Tigers: Dorn; Gibson, McMeeken, Channing, Solomona; Roberts, Gale; Lynch, Milner, Wheeldon, Millington, Moors, Massey. Subs: Cook, Boyle, Springer, McShane.
Referee: Robert Hicks.