An unforgettable end to a sensational match preserved Castleford Tigers’ 100 per cent start to Super League and left champions Wigan Warriors on their knees.
AN UNFORGETTABLE END to a sensational match preserved Castleford Tigers’ 100 per cent start to Super League and left champions Wigan Warriors on their knees.
Having led 30-24 with three minutes left, Cas looked to be heading for an agonising defeat when Wigan equalised and almost immediately went a point in front.
But it’s an 80-minute game and the hosts snaffled a short kick-off to give themselves one last chance.
Wigan’s defence was looking to snuff out a drop goal attempt, but that left a gap which Luke Dorn spotted and pace and footwork took him over the line for a try which Marc Sneyd converted to seal an incredible 36-31 triumph. It was a suitably frantic finale to an end-to-end contest which had MAH Jungle rocking like it was 1999.
The first half alone featured nine tries, five goals, a bad injury and a yellow card and saw Cas squander a 16-0 lead after 12 minutes.
Kirk Dixon – recalled in place of Richard Owen who had scored a hat-trick against Hull KR in the previous game – got over at the corner after some lovely passing involving Craig Huby, Liam Finn, Weller Hauraki and Dorn.
Sneyd landed the first of his three first half goals, then – after Justin Carney had been sin-binned for punching John Bateman – Dorn burrowed over from close range.
Soon after, Sneyd’s kick caught the defence flat-footed, Finn batted the ball back and Adam Milner touched down.
Wigan hit back through Matty Bowen, Blake Green and Matty Smith before Daryl Clark went over from acting-half, but further tries for Tony Clubb and Joe Burgess sent the visitors in 24-22 ahead.
Had Dixon been on his wing Burgess’ try might have been prevented, but he suffered a suspected broken jaw in a tackle by Michael McIlorum following the re-start after Tigers’ second try.
Michael Channing switched to the wing – with Frankie Mariano as his centre – and restored Tigers’ lead from Weller Hauraki’s pass on 57.
Sneyd converted and added a penalty moments later after a foul by Ben Flower, who was sin-binned. Wigan had looked to be taking a grip before Channing’s try, with Clark (on Liam Farrell and then Iain Thornley) and Dorn (on Burgess) producing vital try-saving tackles.
However, Cas would have been well clear if Smith hadn’t pulled off a wonder tackle on Michael Shenton before Channing had a touchdown disallowed for obstruction.
Dorn produced a stunning try-saver on Burgess with nine left, but three from time Smith put up a high kick and Josh Charnley took it to go over.
Smith landed a magnificent touchline conversion – only his third goal – to level the scores and then booted a drop goal in the next set.
Defeat for Castleford would have been a travesty, but they stayed switched on from the re-start and that set up Dorn’s heroics and a thoroughly deserved win.
Castleford Tigers: Dorn, Dixon, Channing, Shenton, Carney, Sneyd, Finn, Lynch, Milner, Huby, Holmes, Hauraki, Millington. Subs (all used): Massey, Clark, Mariano, Wheeldon.
Wigan Warriors: Bowen, Charnley, Sarginson, Thornley, Burgess, Green, Smith, Crosby, McIlorum, Taylor, Farrell, Bateman, Flower. Sub (all used) Tomkins, Pettybourne, Clubb, James.
Referee: Robert Hicks (Oldham).