IT’S NOT the worst problem to have, but Castleford Tigers seem to struggle when they get 18-0 ahead!
For the fourth time in five games, Cas scored three early converted tries without reply against Widnes Vikings yesterday.
Tigers have won all five, but on each occasion – after building a big early lead – they have allowed the opposition to fight back.
Widnes never looked like snatching the points yesterday, but it was a more difficult afternoon than it might have been for Cas.
The second half was shared 10-10 and Widnes handled the conditions better when a thunderstorm broke out after half-time, following an opening period played in bright sunshine.
After an injury pile-up early in the season, Tigers boss Daryl Powell now has an embarrassment of riches, with only Frankie Mariano on the casualty list going into yesterday’s game.
Forward Nathan Massey limped off after just five minutes – with an ankle injury – and didn’t return, but full-back Luke Dorn came in for his first appearance since April and Powell could afford to start with the in-form Ben Roberts on the bench.
Dorn had an instant impact, providing the final pass for Tigers’ opening two tries, both scored by winger Denny Solomona.
Adam Milner and Luke Gale were also involved in both and Liam Finn had a hand in the second, which came direct from a scrum after Rhys Hanbury had dropped Gale’s bomb.
Gale landed the first two of his five conversions and Cas led 12-0 after as many minutes.
Roberts, who had been at full-back before Dorn’s return, came on hooker and almost got over with his first touch. He was tackled just short, but Jake Webster went in from acting-half, on 25.
Cas then lost concentration as a few decisions went against them and Widnes hit back with two quick tries.
There appeared to be an obstruction in the build-up to Jack Owens’s opener and Webster was sin-binned for dissent.
Chris Clarkson then got over from close-range, Owens converting, but Matt Cook stormed on to Gale’s pass to make it 24-10 at the break.
Justin Carney touched down from Gale’s kick early in the second half to make it 30-10 and Cas seemed set to run away with the game.
But Widnes against responded when Tom Gilmore touched down his own kick, Owens landing his second goal and the gap was down to 10 points with 10 minutes left when Macgraff Leuluai went over from Aaron Heremaia’s pass.
But Widnes could not make another breakthough and Solomona completed the scoring, touching down from Webster’s clever pass late on.
That was the winger’s 13th try of the season and his 11th in the last five games.
Castleford Tigers: Dorn, Solomona, Webster, Shenton, Carney, Finn, Gale, Lynch, Milner, Millington, O Holmes, McMeeken, Massey. Subs: Roberts, Cook, Moors, Springer.
Widnes Vikings: Hanbury, Flynn, Dean, Craven, Owens, Gilmore, Mellor, Manuokafoa, Heremaia, Gerrard, Clarkson, Galea, Cahill. Subs: O’Carroll, Leuluai, Dudson, Isa.
Referee: Joe Cobb (Leigh).