SOME things in Super League have not changed while Steve McNamara has been in Australia.
The England coach was at Wheldon Road last night having returned for a flying mid-season visit from his NRL role as Sydney Roosters’ assistant.
He will have witnessed irate, incensed fans arguing that referees ruined yet another contest, something he may have admitted at times himself while in charge of Bradford Bulls.
It was Castleford fans aggrieved here after the officials awarded two tries which more often than not would have been refused. Considering Daryl Powell’s side lost by just eight points against a gritty Huddersfield you can understand their exasperation.
The first saw Craig Huby, the Tigers’ former talisman prop who switched clubs in the winter after a lifetime at The Jungle, bundle over from close range in the 21st minute yet surely fumble as he tried to touch down.
The video officials ruled otherwise and likewise, after Castleford had got back to 18-16 late on, when fellow front-row Eorl Crabtree trundled over but seemed to be short of the line.
This said, Castleford, who have lost three successive games ahead of a Magic Weekend fixture against Wakefield Trinity, only had themselves to blame for a lack of creativity when having so much pressure during that second period.
But the defeat, though an improvement on the abject Challenge Cup loss at Hull FC last week, will still hurt this morning.
Huddersfield, who remain fourth and are reportedly close to signing Kiwi prop Sam Rapira from New Zealand Warriors for 2016, did respond after their own Cup embarrassment at Leeds.
They were strong up front again and defensively sound for long periods. After their respective non-events last weekend, both sides were chasing a positive start to raise confidence as quickly as possible.
That neither scored in the opening quarter pointed at the edginess of everyone involved as they sought some elusive dynamism. Or just cohesion.
There were some flashes. Brett Ferres, switched to loose forward, came up with a couple of lovely offloads to show why Anderson might want him in the middle more to get his hands on the ball.
It was the England international who was at the centre of the game’s first flare-up with, inevitably perhaps, Castleford’s Ryan Bailey deemed the instigator during a disagreement in the tackle.
From that penalty, Huby scored his controversial effort and Danny Brough added the first of his four kicks.
The second came soon after when, having seen Castleford’s scrum-half Luke Gale drop possession with no one near, the Huddersfield captain hoisted a high kick that was palmed back for Aaron Murphy to finish.
Trailing 12-0, Powell’s side needed to find some energy fast. Lee Jewitt provided that off the bench with fellow front-row Grant Millington and, after Frankie Mariano was held up and Oli Holmes drove close, they responded in the 33rd minute.
Ferres tried one ambitious pass too many as his long searching delivery only found touch 30m from his own line and, so, Gale was able to select the right pass to give Jake Webster space to power in with a strong finish.
Gale was off-cue with the conversion, though, much like his side were with their defence as they meekly allowed Huddersfield to score again two minutes before the break, Ukuma Ta’ai having to do very little when barging through on the Tigers’ line.
Castleford were denied again when Ben Roberts twisted over from dummy half three minutes into the second period only for Silverwood to rule ‘no try’ and see the video officials concur.
There was no denying Roberts in the 47th minute, though, when his brilliant dart and break from dummy-half saw him accelerate into space, round Scott Grix and Gale convert.
Castleford must have felt bullish from there but they continually struggled to create further breakthroughs.
Millington missed the chance to offload when Huddersfield’s line was, for once, all at sea, Denny Solomona was forced into touch when Michael Shenton should not really have passed and then Jordan Tansey spilt possession cheaply to waste another prime attacking slot.
They also lost the unfortunate Mariano to a knee injury, the strong-running second-row whose obvious promise is being held up by such bad luck.
Finally though, Shenton responded after Ferres was, harshly, penalised for continuing his running battle with Bailey.
It was a rare piece of fluency for the hosts and well-worked with Gale bringing the deficit back to just two points.
Only for Crabtree to ruin those hopes of recovery at the climax.
Castleford Tigers: Tansey; Gibson, Webster, Shenton, Solomona; Roberts, Gale; Lynch, Milner, Bailey, Holmes, Mariano, Massey. Substitutes: Millington, Jewitt, Finn, McMeeken.
Huddersfield Giants: Grix; McGillvary, Murphy, Connor, Broughton; Brough, Wood; Mullally, Leeming, Huby, Hughes, Wardle, Ferres. Substitutes: Robinson, Crabtree, Kopczak, Ta’ai.
Referee: R Silverwood (Mirfield).