dEWSBURY referee James Child may be shopping for a new whistle today, because the one he used on Saturday must be worn out.
The 37 penalties he awarded in Castleford Tigers’ 40-20 Millennium Magic win over Wakefield Trinity Wildcats is believed to be an engage Super League record.
There were 20 in the opening period – 11 of them to Cas – and two sin-binnings, both for persistent offending; then another 17 after the break, 11 more to Tigers and Wildcats had their second player yellow carded.
There were several high tackles and a couple of spears – including what looked a bad one by Wakefield’s Aaron Murphy on Nick Youngquest – but most of the stoppages were for technical offences.
It made for a poor spectacle, despite plenty of effort from both sides and flashes of skill. Tigers’ new half-back pairing of Rangi Chase and Danny Orr were very good and their England Academy skipper Adam Milner shone after replacing early injury victim Ryan Hudson.
For Wildcats, an increasingly-frustrated Glenn Morrison never stopped working and Julien Rinaldi and Matt Blaymire also carried the fight.
But inevitably, the focus after the game wasn’t on the players and John Kear, Wildcats’ coach, described the penalty count as “absolutely unbelievable”.
He wondered: “What are we watching? Is the philosophy of the RFL to have an entertaining game or not?
“You will not get that with 37 penalties. I thought the two teams were magnificent, given the restrictions imposed upon them.”
The Wildcats coach said he welcomed ex-Huddersfield boss Jon Sharp’s appointment as an RFL technical adviser to work with match officials, adding: “Hopefully he’ll be able to put an end to this.”
Kear’s Tigers counterpart, Terry Matterson, observed: “The game didn’t flow, it was frustrating and we need to find out why. I don’t think we are that indisciplined.
“We are working hard to play by the law and I didn’t think we did that much wrong, beside a couple of high shots.”
Though they were deserved winners, Cas only came alive after Joe Arundel had been yellow carded on 25 minutes and Dale Ferguson went over from Sam Obst’s pass soon afterwards to edge Wildcats ahead.
Tigers defied their numerical disadvantage as Richard Mathers found Chase and his wonderful offload was finished by Brett Ferres. Then Youngquest strolled over from Chase’s superb long pass moments later.
After Arundel’s return, Obst followed him on to the naughty step and subsequently Dean Widders powered through, with Kirk Dixon landing the first of his four conversions.
Earlier Cas – who were without Nick Fozzard due to a groin injury suffered in training – had gone ahead when Ryan Hudson, Orr, Chase and Mathers sent Arundel through; but Julien Rinaldi’s close-range try levelled the scores.
Cas struck just 53 seconds after the interval, when Chase galloped over after intercepting Tommy Lee’s pass and Milner’s clever try, from acting-half, made it 28-10.
Ferguson grabbed his second try from a Rinaldi pass and then Luke George raced 80 metres to cut the gap to just eight points, Josh Veivers adding his second conversion.
But Paul Jackson’s try made the game safe for Cas after Daryl Millard had been sin-binned and Craig Huby sent Widders over to complete the scoring.
Wakefield’s plight was highlighted when they had to call up a player – young prop Russ Spiers – from outside their full-time squad.
Kear hailed his men’s “gutsy” effort, adding: “They didn’t deserve a 20-point difference. We had to do a lot of defending, but you can’t fault them for effort – I am very proud of what they did.
“It has been a good week for the club; we’ve got a new owner and some of the young lads can take great pride in what they’ve done today and some of the senior players led from the front.”
Matterson was delighted with youngsters Milner, Oliver Holmes, Jon Walker and Arundel. He said: “We made hard work of it, but it’s good to be not overly happy and to win by 20 points.”
Castleford Tigers: Mathers, Dixon, Ferres, Arundel, Youngquest, Chase, Orr, Huby, Hudson, Emmitt, Jones, Holmes, Snitch. Subs (all used): Milner, Widders, Jackson, Walker.
Tries: Widders 2, Arundel, Ferres, Youngquest, Chase, Milner, Jackson.
Goals: Dixon 4.
Wakefield Wildcats: Blaymire, Veivers, Murphy, Dean, George, Hyde, Obst, Korkidas, Rinaldi, Johnson, Ferguson, Morrison, Lee. Subs (all used): Millard, King, Spiers, Henderson.
Tries: Ferguson 2, Rinaldi, George.
Goals: Veivers 2.
Referee: James Child (Dewsbury).
Attendance: 30,891 (Saturday total).