TIGERS FAILED to come away with the main prize, but Castleford did enjoy some glory on Tetley’s Challenge Cup final day at Wembley.
The Year 7 boys of Castleford Academy won the Steven Mullaney Memorial Trophy with a 36-14 victory over Brooksbank High in the annual Champion Schools curtain-raiser.
Star of the show was stand-off Bailey O’Connor, who scored a hat-trick and converted all Castleford’s six tries in a sparkling man-of-the-match performance.
Full-back Harrison Spense-Horton – who was a member of the YEP’s Castleford Tigers fans jury – made the break which led to Oliver Price’s opening try.
Brooksbank levelled, but Billy Marsh dragged three defenders over the line for Castleford’s second try and O’Connor danced through for a third to open an 18-6 interval lead. Brooksbank scored first in the second half, but O’Connor completed his hat-trick either side of a touchdown by Owen Walker to seal the win, before the Halifax outfit grabbed a late consolation.
Castleford Academy featured in five other finals, winning four of them.
Try scorer Corey Johnson was man of the match for Castleford Academy Year 8 boys in their 24-10 derby win over Wakefield’s St Wilfrid’s Catholic High School. Other try scorers for Castleford were Lucas Sutton, Harry Jones, and Jack Firth. Sutton converted all four.
Tom Maskell and Billy Parker crossed for St Wilfrid’s, with Henry Mitchell adding one goal.
Cameron Smith – a member of Leeds Rhinos’ under-16s team and brother and Wakefield Trinity Wildcats’ Daniel Smith – inspired Castleford Academy to a 34-16 success over Halton’s St Peter and Paul High School in the Year 10 boys’ final. Smith scored two tries and kicked five goals. Other try scorers were Callum Turner, Callum Archer, Corey Southern and Fletcher Davies.
Lauren Harvey scored 24 points – from three tries and six goals – in Castleford Academy Year 7 girls’ 42-12 demolition of Wade Deacon High School, Halton. Emily Jones ran in a brace and kicked a goal and Mia Stephenson also touched down twice.
The Year 9 girls’ final produced 72 points as Castleford Academy overcame Ossett Academy, Wakefield, 42-30. A hat-trick of tries and seven goals secured the player of the match award for Castleford’s Jasmine Hazell. Lucy Jordan crossed twice and Brogan Herbert and Saffron Burrows were the other try scorers. For Ossett, Ella Leifeith scored two tries, Amelia Hudson, Cloe Beard-Fawcett and Sian Purver got the others and Toni-Louise Naylor added five goals.
There was disappointment for Castleford Academy in the Year 10 girls’ decider as they were beaten 48-12 by Leigh Academy, from Dartford, Kent. Taylor Loveday scored a try and two conversions and Jasmine Bell also touched down.