WOEFUL Castleford Tigers had a night to forget as an error-ridden performance was given the treatment it deserved by Widnes Vikings.
The scoreline might suggest a tight affair but do not be fooled.
By their high standards, Daryl Powell’s side were poor from the start and did not get much better despite Paddy Flynn, the winger on loan from Widnes, scoring a hat-trick against his parent club to set up a frantic finish.
Castleford, whose top-four hopes have been jolted by this unexpected defeat, were 38-12 behind with just 12 minutes remaining.
They came alive with tries from Larne Patrick, his first for the club, Luke Gale and Flynn’s third to drag themselves back into it but there was no escape.
In fairness, they did not deserve it and, instead, it is under-strength Widnes who gave their top-eight bid a huge boost, moving up to seventh with only their second win in 10 league outings.
Essentially, Castleford – ruined by some wretched handling until the thrilling final stages – were undone by four tries in 11 minutes of mayhem.
Trailing 14-12 in the 54th minute, they were 38-12 down by the 65th.
Patrick Ah Van and Lloyd White exposed some awful defending to score and dozing Tigers then saw White add his second before Joe Mellor raced 55m when everyone stood off Luke Gale’s restart.
Castleford looked disjointed and off the pace from the early exchanges, second-row Junior Moors dropping Kevin Brown’s cannoned kick for Macgraff Leuluai to open the scoring on nine minutes.
Rhys Hanbury slotted the first of his four kicks and the hosts were unable to get any momentum of their own amid a raft of unusual errors.
Jake Webster fumbled as Moors attempted an offload, dummy runner Grant Millington then lost possession when he was not even expecting a pass and Joel Monaghan could not collect as a wide move went awry.
The humidity may have caused some problems with handling but Widnes were not deterred, Ah Van crossing after a fine cut-out pass from Hanbury in the 19th minute.
Castleford did finally click when Denny Solomona – at full-back for the injured Luke Dorn – came into the line to sharply supply Flynn.
It was a welcome score for Flynn, who joined on loan from Widnes last month having been squeezed out of contention at the Cheshire club but was still allowed to play against his main employers.
But, he switched off just before the break chasing back Mellor’s kick and Chris Bridge pounced for a 14-6 interval lead.
Flynn scored his second after some great trickery from Adam Milner in the 48th minute, Gale bringing it back to 14-12, and you sensed Castleford would push on from there especially as Widnes had seen Setaimata Sa, Chris Houston and Gil Dudson all pull out late on due to either illness or injury.
But it was not to be. Their self-inflicted wounds continued and now, surreally, Widnes are just a point behind them in sixth.
Castleford Tigers: Solomona; Monaghan, Crooks, Webster, Flynn; McShane, Gale; Jewitt, Milner, Patrick, Moors, McMeeken, Massey. Subs: Millington, Springer, Tickle, Cook.
Widnes Vikings: Hanbury; Thompson, Bridge, Runciman, Ah Van; Brown, Mellor; Cahill, White, Buchanan, Whitley, Dean, Leuluai. Subs: Chapelhow, Manuokafoa, Walker, Heremaia.
Referee: Jack Smith (Wigan).