A MASTERCLASS from Rangi Chase and Craig Huby’s sensational try-saving tackle proved the winning difference as Castleford Tigers out-pointed visitors Bradford Bulls 46-34.
It wasn’t a day for great defence, but the game might well have finished all square at 40-40 had Huby not somehow managed to halt Brett Keaney on the line in the final moments.
Castleford were able to score on the counter after that, but it was Huby’s great effort which won it for them after Chase had played a part in six of Tigers’ eight tries.
It was end-to-end stuff, averaging a point per minute, but with a definite end-of-season feeling to proceedings.
The intensity may not have been high, but whenever Chase – who has told Tigers he wants to leave to join Salford next year – had the ball, something was likely to happen.
Adam Milner had a fine game for Cas, bagging a brace of tries and Ryan Boyle got through a huge workload as Tigers inflicted a defeat which ended beaten Bulls’ faint hopes of play-off qualification.
Bulls’ stand-off Jarrod Sammut opened the scoring with a terrific pick-up from Manase Manuokafoa’s low offload, Jamie Foster booting the first of his five conversions, after just five minutes.
Five minutes later Chase’s kick to the corner was taken by Kirk Dixon, who got around Foster to score.
Dixon couldn’t convert, but added the extras to all Tigers’ other touchdowns.
He took his career points tally through the 1,000 barrier soon afterwards by improving Milner’s first try after Chase and Grant Millington handled in the build up.
Justin Carney scored in the next set following great work by Chase and Michael Shenton, before Kearney pulled a try back.
On the stroke of half-time, Chase turned the ball inside to Daryl Clark who accelerated into space and put the supporting Milner over to send Cas in 22-12 ahead, rewarding terrific scrambling which held both Adam O’Brien and Keith Lulia up over the Cas line just before the interval.
Nick Scruton’s converted try cut Tigers’ lead to just four points a couple of minutes into the second period and given Castelford’s tendancy only to play for one half, that could have been the start of a Bulls fightback. But a couple more moments of magic from Chase put Tigers back in control.
First came a wonder try, the stand-off throwing dummy after dummy before slicing through a gap and over the line, followed by a beautifully-judged kick which Tansey ran on to.
But the re-start from Tansey’s try was allowed to bounce and Sammut touched down for an instant and very soft reply.
When Charlie Martin was sin-binned with 13 minutes left, for preventing a quick tap re-start, the game was back in the balance.
Cas seemed to have it won just a couple of minutes later as Nathan Massey crossed from Huby’s pass, but Elliot Kear and Danny Addy crossed on 74 and 76 and and suddenly there were only six points in it.
Bulls would have levelled but for Huby’s brilliant effort to halt Kearney almost on the line between the posts and that proved the decisive moment.
The hosts went on to seal victory when Jamie Ellis crossed on the final play, Dixon’s conversion going over after the hooter had sounded.
Castleford Tigers: Tansey, Clare, Shenton, Dixon, Carney, Chase, Ellis, Boyle, Milner, Huby, Millington, Hauraki, Massey. Subs (all used): Clark, Fleming, Martin. Unused Owen.
Bradford Bulls: Kearney, Kear, Purtell, Lulia, Foster, Sammut, Addy, Scruton, Diskin, Manuokafua, Olbison, Blythe, Walker. Subs (all used): Langley, Donaldson, O’Brien, Evans.
Referee: Robert Hicks (Oldham).