CASTLEFORD TIGERS suffered their fourth defeat in six Betfred Super League games when they were pipped 20-18 at Huddersfield Giants.
It was a scrappy, but exciting clash, decided by Alex Mellor’s hat-trick try seven minutes from time, after Castleford had led four times.
The winning touchdown was the third time Giants had gone ahead.
The scores were levelled on another four occasions and both teams had possible touchdowns disallowed, but the hosts scored three tries to two and just about deserved the win.
Cas scored inside two minutes when Greg Eden intercepted Kruise Leeming’s pass and galloped over from half-way, Peter Mata’utia converting.
Their injury curse had already struck, Grant Millington being hurt in the first carry of the game and going off after the try.
Setting the pattern for the game, Giants were quickly level when Mellor crossed off a break and pass by Lee Gaskell who then had a touchdown ruled out – by video referee Robert Hicks – for obstruction.
After the 21st minute penalty kicked by Mata’utia which edged Tigers back ahead and completed the first-half scoring, Jake Trueman stretched through, but that was a double movement and Tigers had another possible touchdown ruled out near the end of the half, when Thaler and Hicks agreed Mike McMeeken – returning after injury – had knocked on trying to stretch over.
Cas conceded a penalty in the next set and as the hooter sounded Jermaine McGillvary dived over at the corner. Thaler thought it was a try, but Hicks ruled the winger had been barged into touch by Trueman’s desperate tackle.
There was no doubt over Mellor’s second try a minute after the break, the second-rower powering over from Matt Frawley’s pass and Darnell McIntosh adding his second conversion.
The lead lasted five minutes until Giants conceded three successive penalties – leading to a team warning – and in-form Matt Cook powered over off a tap from the third of them, Mata’utia adding the two to edge Cas back ahead.
McIntosh booted penalties on 51 and 57 minutes to nose Giants in front for the second time and Suaia Matagi and Akuila Uate were both held up over Tigers’ line as pressure mounted.
But penalties by Mata’utia on 62 and 65 minutes swung the game back in Tigers’ favour by two points.
Yet again, they couldn’t take a grip on the match and with 11 minutes remaining Mata’utia’s offload was intercepted close to Giants’ line and in that set Mellor completed his hat-trick from McGillvary’s pass, though that effort was unconverted.
Thaler and Hicks denied Gaskell a try soon afterwards and in a frantic finale Dan Smith – making his Cas debut against his former club – was held up over the line, then Adam Milner got across, but Adam O’Brien prevented him getting the ball down and the Cas man was sin-binned for thrusting his head at the defender.
Huddersfield Giants: McIntosh, McGillvary, Turner, Jake Wardle, Uate, Gaskell, Frawley, Ta’ai, Leeming, Matagi, Joe Wardle, Mellor, Murphy. Subs O’Brien, Roberts, Ikahihifo, Hewitt.
Castleford Tigers: Turner, Clare, Minikin, Shenton, Eden, Trueman, Mata’utia, Watts, Milner, Millington, Sene-Lefao, McMeeken, Moors. Subs Cook, Clark, O’Neill, Smith.
Referee: Ben Thaler (Wakefield).