FIT-AGAIN Luke Dorn’s quickfire brace proved crucial as Castleford Tigers enjoyed being down to 12 men far more than Widnes Vikings.
Scott Wheeldon’s fourthtry in club colours had given Castleford a narrow 16-12 lead after 44 minutes yesterday against opponents who, like them, had been Super League’s surprise packages this term.
When Tigers winger Justin Carney and Widnes wideman Paddy Flynn then came to blows in the following set after an altercation on their touchline both received a yellow card.
But it was Daryl Powell’s side who responded better as, by the time the angered duo returned, they were 28-12 ahead and back up to third in the table above champions Wigan Warriors.
Moments after the cards had been brandished, ex-Cas player Willie Isa reacted wildly, too, with a late, reckless challenge on the excellent Andy Lynch and from that penalty Dorn dummied over for his first try in the 47th minute.
Just 67 seconds later, the veteran Australian full-back, who had missed the last six games, was in for his second after a brilliant break down Flynn’s vacant touchline from Marc Sneyd.
The double blast took the game away from Widnes who, for all their earlier efforts, never recovered and it also left the 32-year-old just one try shy of 150 in the British game.
Dorn, who also had a try chalked off in the first half, returned in place of Jordan Tansey, the only change to the side that vanquished Wakefield a week earlier. Cas started fast with captain Michael Shenton going over inside just six minutes after diving onto a grubber from the quality half-back Sneyd.
Sneyd failed to convert from wide out and Widnes took the lead following a glorious long-distance try started and finished by Kevin Brown and involving Rhys Hanbury, Stefan Marsh and Jack Owens.
Tickle converted but Castleford hit back through Jake Webster’s try in the 23rd minute.
Powell’s side were fortunate, however, as there were a couple of dubious decisions in its build-up including a potential forward pass from Dorn when he declined a blatant two-man overlap, was sandwiched between Widnes defenders and only just squeezed out a desperate pass to the Kiwi centre.
Sneyd’s conversion made it 10-6 but, after Carney spilled on the first tackle, Widnes were over once more when Marsh hit Hanbury’s pass and slipped Sneyd’s tackle to stretch over eight minutes before the break, Tickle doing the rest as Widnes took a 12-10 interval lead.
But the home side enjoyed a great start to the second half when Owens spilled in a heavy tackle coming away from his own line and Wheeldon picked up to scurry a few yards and stretch over. Then came that purple patch, added to further when Clark sniped over in the 72nd minute, Sneyd adding his fifth goal. Widnes finished off with late tries from Cameron Phelps and Tom Gilmore.
Castleford: Dorn; Dixon, Webster, Shenton, Carney; Sneyd, Finn; Lynch, Clark, Huby, Holmes, Hauraki, Millington. Substitutes: Mariano, Wheeldon, Ellis, Jewitt.
Widnes Vikings: Hanbury; Flynn, Marsh, Phelps, Owens; Brown, Gilmore; Clough, White, Gerrard, Allen, Tickle, Leuluai. Substitutes: Gore, Isa, Johnson, Kavanagh.
Referee: Ben Thaler (Wakefield).
Castleford Tigers coach Daryl Powell admitted he knew that his side was in a battle at the break but praised them for the way they stood firm after each team had had a man sent to the sin-bin.
“I thought we could have done it a little bit better in that period where we both had 12 men,” Powell said.
“It was a tough game and there wasn’t much in it.
“We were in a real battle at half-time and I thought they played a little bit better than us in the first period.
“We held tough and I thought we were a little bit unlucky in the first 15 minutes.
“We pretty much had control in the second period until they hit us with the two consolation scores.
“I thought they were a little bit smarter than us in some areas, but our forwards gave us a real lift, especially off the bench.”
Powell also paid tribute to returning full-back Luke Dorn, who marked his return to the side after six weeks out with a brace of tries.