CASTLEFORD TIGERS continued to build momentum ahead of the play-offs with an impressive 44-12 demolition of Huddersfield Giants in the Betfred Super-8s last night.
Exactly a month before the Grand Final, Cas produced another strong defensive display and hit their attacking stride late on.
It was Tigers’ fourth successive win – and they’ve not conceded a point in one half of each of those.
After nilling the opposition for the first 40 minutes of their last three games, Tigers shut Giants out from the 20th minute last night, when the visitors went 12-4 ahead.
Junior Moors turned in a huge shift in the second-row, playing 70 minutes and scoring a brace of tries and in-form hooker Paul McShane was massively influential, not least with his goal kicking as he landed six conversions from seven attempts.
Considering there was nothing really at stake it was an entertaining, end-to-end encounter for the most part, before Tigers ran away with it with four tries in the final 13 minutes.
McShane took kicking duties in the absence of half-back Luke Gale due to a side injury suffered against Hull last week, but Jesse Sene-Lefao and Greg Minikin both returned from injury off the bench in the second half.
Sene-Lefao played 17 minutes in two spells and Minkin got on for the last 14.
Giants opened the scoring before Tigers had been in possession. Greg Eden spilled Danny Brough’s bomb at the end of the opening set and Adam O’Brien crashed over from close-range.
Referee Ben Thaler thought it was a try and video assistant Phil Bentham agreed. Brough converted, but Cas hit back soon afterwards when Eden made amends by crossing from McShane’s pass.
Lee Gaskell went over off a lovely short ball from Brough, who added the extras, but Cas dominated the second quarter.
Jake Webster was selected in the right-centre, denying Joe Wardle an opportunity to go head-to-head with his younger brother Jake.
Webster – who had been held up over the line just before Huddersfield’s second score – got Cas back in the contest when he zipped through from Mike McMeeken’s offload.
Cas went ahead four minutes before the break, in their seventh successive set on Giants’ line. The barrage included four penalties, two drop-outs and a scrum. The last of those penalties came after Moors crashed over, but Jordan Rankin stole the ball before sending Jake Mamo on a sprint to touch down at the other end.
Thaler indicated a try, but was overruled by Bentham, only for Moors to finally touch down in the next set. Cas’ defence held Jordan Turner up over the line at the start of the second half and then Clare forced Innes Senior into touch just short, having denied the same player in similar fashion in the first half.
Clare turned from try-saver to scorer on 58 minutes with a fine finish from Peter Mata’utia’s long pass.
McMeeken scored his second try, from close-range on 67 minutes, Moors powered over off good work from Grant Millington and McShane three minutes later and Matau’tia dummied over with five left.
Millington had the final say, with his first try of the season – to his obvious delight – getting on the end of a kick by Jake Trueman on the last play of the game. Webster, who will join Bradford Bulls next year, was handed the conversion, but missed from almost in front.
Castleford Tigers: Mata’utia, Clare, Webster, Shenton, Eden, Roberts, Trueman, Watts, McShane, Millington, Moors, McMeeken, Massey. Subs Minikin, Milner, Sene-Lefao, Clark.
Huddersfield Giants: Rankin, Mamo, Turner, Wardle, I Senior, Gaskell, Brough, Lawrence, O’Brien, Matagi, Ta’ai, Roberts, Hinchcliffe. Subs Leeming, Clough, Smith, English.
Referee: Ben Thaler (Wakefield).