CASTLEFORD TIGERS are into the all-important top-four after last night’s dramatic 17-16 home win over visitors Warrington Wolves.
It looked like Warrington had salvaged an undeserved point when they equalised with four minutes left, but Cas old boy Daryl Clark knocked on near his own line in the next set and Liam Finn landed the winning one-pointer.
The win moved Tigers two points ahead of Huddersfield Giants, who play their game in hand at home to Catalans Dragons tonight.
Cas were the better team. Beaten 44-6 at home by Warrington less than three weeks ago, they defended magnificently and took their chances in outstanding fashion.
Having added Clark and Ashton Sims to an already strong squad, Warrington were fancied to go all the way in Super League this year.
But they are now six points behind Tigers with five games to play and last night’s defeat has almost certainly ended their title hopes.
The finish was more exciting than seemed likely when Cas led 12-6 at the break and 16-6 with 11 minutes left.
The big moment in the first half came on 26 minutes when Kevin Penny touched down after the ball had gone loose from a Chris Sandow kick.
Referee Ben Thaler signalled try, but asked the video refs James Child and Warren Turley to check.
They spotted the faintest of knock-ons by Ryan Atkins, the ball was turned over and in the next set Cas scored their second try when Luke Gale and the impressive Oliver Holmes combined to put Michael Shenton in.
That made it 10-0 after Justin Carney had opened the scoring from Ben Roberts’ pass, with Gale converting.
Cas defended magnificently, with Roberts and Ashley Gibson making try-saving tackles on Penny and Holmes doing the same to Sandow. Ben Harrison also went close for the visitors, being held up over the line and Rhys Evans crossed, but Stefan Ratchford’s pass was forward.
Cas cracked eight minutes before the break when Richie Myler powered over from Sims’ pass and Sandow converted, but Gale made it 12-6 at the break with a penalty and Cas increased their lead on 44 with a terrific try.
Finn’s kick was palmed by Shenton on to Holmes and he found Carney, who got over at the corner, though Gale’s conversion attempt hit a post.
Cas absorbed heavy pressure and thought they had sealed it when Gibson crossed from Jake Webster’s pass, but Thaler – and then the video refs – spotted a foot in touch.
That was with 13 left and two later Finn kicked straight at Myler, who raced the length of the field for an unconverted try.
Gale then missed with a drop goal attempt – confirmed by the video refs – and it looked like that would prove crucial as Warrington levelled when Ratchford’s pass was finished by Penny and Sandow’s kick levelled the scores.
Castleford Tigers: Roberts, Gibson, Webster, Shenton, Carney, Finn, Gale, Lynch, Milner, Millington, O Holmes, McMeeken, Massey. Subs Dorn, Cook, Moors, Springer.
Warrington Wolves: Ratchford, Penny, Evans, Atkins. Monaghan, Sandow, Myler, Hill, Clark, Sims, Westwood, Currie, Harrison. Subs Asotasi, Wheeler, Dwyer, G King.
Referee: Ben Thaler (Wakefield).