CASTLEFORD TIGERS kept Yorkshire’s flag flying in the Betfred Super League play-offs with a gritty, hard-fought and totally deserved 14-12 win at Warrington Wolves last night.
Cas, without eight first-choice players, rode their luck at times, but defended magnificently and took a couple of their very limited chances, though the difference was a penalty 13 minutes from time.
Tigers were magnificently led by Jordan Rankin, who was named in the halves and played at full-back, but it was an outstanding effort by the pack, with Grant Millington and Liam Watts playing big minutes, Chris Clarkson making a tremendous try- and maybe game-saving tackle late on and Paul McShane also having a huge game.
Tigers will be away to the losers of tomorrow’s tie between Wigan Warriors and Salford Red Devils in another elimination tie next week and have nothing to fear if they can tidy up a few areas and show the same level of determination.
Warrington – who finished fourth in the regular season after winning only one of their last eight matches – weren’t helped by the loss of star man Blake Austin at half-time, but were poor throughout.
Tigers led from the 28th minute when Adam Milner, who had just come on in place of Daniel Smith, reacted quickly to run through and touch down from acting-half McShane’s grubber over the line.
The try – which Peter Mata’utia converted – came in the set following outstanding play by Smith whose tackle shoved Toby King in-goal and trapped him there.
Cas had made a series of errors in the early stages, but held out and began to grow in confidence, playing some nice rugby without creating clear openings.
At the other end, Austin dummied through, but was halted by Rankin and then Daryl Clark burrowed over from acting-half between the posts, referee Chris Kendall indicated a try, but video assistant Ben Thaler said no.
Replays showed Liam Watts had got a boot under the ball, in a tackle also involving Rankin and Holmes. Cas’ though, went the closest to scoring again just before the break when Trueman had a drop goal attempt charged down and then got over the line in the repeat set, but knocked-on.
Jake Mamo replaced Austin and got Warrington on the board two minutes after the break, after Currie had charged down an attempted clearing kick.
Stefan Ratchford - who had missed with a penalty shot after just five minutes, levelled with a touchline conversion, but Cas, hit back within six minutes, Rankin finishing well at the corner from a pass by Matautia, who landed a brilliant conversion.
Watts knocked on over Warrington’s line with 17 minutes left, but when Mike Cooper stole the ball from the same player with four minutes later, Matautia took the two, which proved the winning intervention.
Warrington got the ball back from a short restart and were back within two points when Chris Hill touched down from Clark’s grubber and Ratchford added the extras.
Ratchford was short with a penalty from half-way with six minutes left and Clarkson made a brilliant tackle on Mamo before Bryson Goodwin was sin-binned in the final seconds for kicking the ball away.
Warrington Wolves: Ratchford, Lineham, Goodwin, King, Charnley, Austin, Patton , Hill, Clark, Cooper, Currie, Hughes, J Clark. Subs: Philbin, Westwood, Murdoch-Masila, Mamo.
Castleford Tigers: Turner, Clare, Mata’utia, Blair, Minikin, Trueman, Rankin, Watts, McShane, Millington, Holmes, Clarkson, Smith. Subs: Milner, Cook, O’Neill. Unused: Ellis.
Referee: Chris Kendall (Huddersfield).