Skipper Joel Monaghan scored twice on his return from injury to help Warrington end the regular First Utility Super League season on a high with a 44-6 rout of Castleford.
The free-scoring Australian winger had missed the Wolves’ previous four matches with a calf injury but made his mark with two of his side’s nine tries condemned the Tigers to their heaviest home defeat under coach Daryl Powell, who was left fuming by Ben Westwood’s head shot that hospitalised Luke Gale.
“It was a clear strike to the head,” said Powell. “It was a disgracefl tackle. I don’t know how bad he is but he looked really distressed when I saw him.”
But Powell added, however: “I thought they might have beaten us with 12 men. We were really shabby today. Warrington were on the button. I thought they were excellent and had too much intent for us.”
It took Monaghan just seven minutes to make his mark, touching down Richie Myler’s kick to the corner, while Ben Currie and former Castleford favourite Daryl Clark both went close following Gareth O’Brien’s 40-20 kick before second rower Ben Westwood forced his way over for Warrington’s second try.
Trailing 10-0 after 16 minutes, Castleford suffered a body blow with the loss of scrum-half Luke Gale after he failed to fully recover from an early head knock and they conceded four more tries before the break.
O’Brien seized on a fumble by defender Mike McMeeken to touch down to extend their lead and even when full-back Matty Russell limped off on 26 minutes it could not disrupt the Wolves’ rhythm, with the versatile Stefan Ratchford slotting effortlessly in his role and Currie switching from the pack to centre.
Winger Gene Ormsby went 70 metres for an opportunist try after Castleford passing broke down in a promising attacking position and Westwood and Currie combined sweetly to get Monaghan over for his second try.
When another Tigers passing move broke down near the visitors’ line, Myler took his side upfield and in the next set got Currie racing through a hole for their sixth try of the half.
O’Brien’s third goal made it 30-0 at the break and there was no let-up from the rampant visitors in the second half.
Monaghan looked to have completed his hat-trick after gathering Myler’s kick but had the try disallowed for a knock-on before Ratchford extended his side’s lead early on 53 minutes after cleanly touching down O’Brien’s kick.
Teenage second rower Sam Wilde, a first-half substitute for Russell, got in on the try spree with his first for the club on 66 minutes to make it 40-0.
At least Castleford improved in the second half and, after McMeeken had been held up over the line, replacement forward Junior Moors went through a gaping hole in the Warrington defence for a consolation try, which Liam Finn converted. The Tigers finished a badly-beaten team, though, and Myler swooped on another handling error to sprint 40 metres for the visitors’ ninth try.
Castleford: Dorn, Gibson, Webster, Shenton, Carney, Finn, Gale, Lynch, Milner, Millington, O. Holmes, McMeeken, Springer. Subs: Boyle, Cook, Moors, Roberts.
Warrington: Russell, Ormsby, Ratchford, Atkins, Monaghan, O’Brien, Myler, Hill, Clark, Sims, Westwood, Currie, Harrison. Subs: Dwyer, Asotasi, Wilde, England.
Referee: Phil Bentham (RFL).