Castleford Tigers 6 Warrington Wolves 18: Tigers fall to first home defeat of season in mud bath conditions
Warrington Wolves played superior wet-weather rugby to bring Castleford Tigers' five-match winning run to an end in a mud bath at the Mend-a-Hose Jungle.
Three penalty goals from full-back Stefan Ratchford’s proved the difference for most of the game as the Wolves eked out an 18-6 victory.
Castleford were desperate to avoid a third postponement of the season and went to great lengths to get the game played but, after 24 hours of non-stop rain, the conditions were reminiscent of the 1968 ‘watersplash’ Challenge Cup final at Wembley which celebrates its 50th anniversary next month.
The highlight for the Tigers was an impressive debut by former Hull front rower Liam Watts, who gave his side plenty of go-forward, while Warrington hooker Daryl Clark revelled in the conditions on his return to his old club.
Warrington certainly adapted better to the awful conditions which made handling something of a lottery.
Wolves winger Josh Charnley, playing his second match back in rugby league, put his side under early pressure by fumbling a kick from Luke Gale but the visitors’ defence held firm.
With Kevin Brown pulling the strings, the Wolves looked the more likely scorers and it took a last-ditch tackle from Castleford forward Oliver Holmes to deny Tyrone Roberts after he had supported a break by the impressive Jack Hughes.
Warrington sensibly opted to take any points they could in the conditions and they led 4-0 thanks to two penalties from Ratchford before scoring an all-important try on the stroke of half-time.
Hughes sparked the move with a neat pass to Charnley and centre Toby King was in support to take the final pass.
Ratchford’s touchline conversion opened up a 10-point lead and both Ryan Atkins and Tom Lineham went desperately close to extending it as the Wolves took the momentum into the second half.
Castleford withstood the pressure, however, and struck back on 52 minutes when Holmes won the race to touch down Gale’s deflected grubber kick.
Gale added the conversion to reduce his side’s deficit to four points and centre Jake Webster had a try disallowed as the Tigers went for the kill.
However, it was the visitors who finished the stronger side.
Ratchford kicked a third penalty 10 minutes from the end to give them more breathing space and Clark had the final say against his former team-mates as he forced his way over from dummy half for their third try and Ratchford maintained his 100 cent record with his fifth goal.
Castleford Tigers: Trueman, Minikin, Webster, Shenton, Clare, Roberts, Gale, Massey, McShane, Watts, Holmes, McMeeken, Milner. Subs (all used): Moors, Millington, Foster, Cook.
Warrington Wolves: Ratchford, Lineham, Atkins, T. King, Charnley, K Brown, Roberts, Hill, Clark, Cooper, Currie, Hughes, Westwood. Subs (all used): Murdoch-Masila, Philbin, Crosby, Akauola.
Referee: Robert Hicks (RFL).