DENNY SOLOMONA’S hat-trick was the highlight as classy Castleford stunned Wigan Warriors.
The prolific winger took his tally to 31 for the season the day after the club issued a strong statement he will not be sold to anyone.
However, if ever there was a win built on teamwork this was it as the Tigers brilliantly backed up last week’s Super 8s opener win at leaders Hull FC.
The brilliant Australian forward Grant Millington led Castleford’s pack magnificently along with St Helens loanee Andre Savelio as they set about stunting Wigan’s renowned forwards, providing the base for the likes of Luke Dorn to show their class out the back.
Daryl Powell told his side to front up to the visitors niggling tactics and they did just that, finally beating them having lost on all three previous occasions – including a Challenge Cup quarter-final – this season.
Furthermore, having forged 26-12 ahead just before the hour mark, they defended heroically after the visitors scored back-to-back John Bateman and Lee Mossop tries to make it 26-22 with 13 minutes to go.
Having done that, with a series of lung-busting efforts, Ryan Hampshire – on a season-long loan from Wigan – fittingly raced in to seal the win in the 77th minute, Oli Holmes also adding a deserved try just before the hooter.
In truth, determined Castleford – now seven points adrift of fourth place with five games to go – set the tone from the off.
Rangi Chase’s big hit saw Dominic Manfredi go off injured before Castleford opened the scoring with a superb try in the eighth minute.
Dorn crabbed across his own 20m line from a scrum before unleashing Solomona, who had far too much pace for England full-back Sam Tomkins.
Luke Gale could not convert but kicked a penalty on 13 minutes.
Hampshire, the makeshift winger, did brilliantly to deny Josh Charnley when the England wideman tried charging over him but was held up.
Castleford’s new-found resilience in defence was on show once more when Solomona did just enough in the same set to upset Anthony Gelling’s stride, the Cook Islander stepping in touch before touching down in the opposite corner.
Instead, Castleford doubled their lead. Gelling did well to shoot out of the line to close down Greg Minikin but he did not take into account the rookie centre’s brute strength.
Minikin eventually shrugged off his opposite number and, though brought down close to the line, replacement hooker Paul McShane dummied over on the last tackle for Gale to make it 12-0.
Wigan continued to struggle with the hosts’ array of attacking threats yet they scored from nothing when Matty Smith’s pass went to ground and Sam Powell sniped over in the 34th minute, Smith’s conversion leaving it 12-6 at the break.
Solomona grabbed his second when soaring high to take Gale’s kick and score seven minutes into the second period – only for his side to unusually switch off and immediately allow Ben Flower to rumble over between the posts.
Granted, Solomona’s third was fortuitous – Minikin looked to have run behind his own man before making the final pass but Gale converted and tagged on a penalty just before the hour.
Tomkins, who had already been warned for back-chatting referee Joe Cobb, complained again for the umpteenth time, swiping out at Dorn as he intervened. Dom Crosby and Holmes were sin-binned for fighting but Castleford earned the penalty that Gale kicked.
Then came the Wigan rally but this time, unlike earlier this year, they did not have enough.
Castleford Tigers: Dorn; Hampshire, Crooks, Minikin, Solomona; Chase, Gale; Springer, Milner, Patrick, Holmes, Savelio, Moors. Substitutes: Jewitt, McShane, Cook, Millington.
Wigan Warriors: Tomkins; Manfredi, Gelling, Sarginson, Charnley; Williams, Smith; Crosby, Powell, Flower, Bateman, Isa, Sutton. Substitutes: Farrell, Mossop, Tautai, Nuuausala.
Referee: Joe Cobb (Manchester).