Toronto Wolfpack 10 Castleford Tigers 28 - Cas spoil Canadians' Super League bow

A powerful first half performance by Castleford Tigers ruined Brian McDermott’s return to Emerald Headingley and Toronto Wolfpack’s Betfred Super League debut.

Sunday, 2nd February 2020, 4:33 pm
Updated Sunday, 2nd February 2020, 4:34 pm
Castleford Tigers debutant George Griffin is wrapped up by the Toronto defence. Picture by Tony Johnson.

Superstar Sonny Bill Williams, in his first game since switching codes, had star billing, but played a bit-part role, knocking on with his first two touches after being introduced as a first half substitute.

Toronto made much the brighter start and it was 12 minutes before Cas had a play-the-ball in their half, by which time the ‘away’ side led 6-4, but after that Tigers were in control.

Cas missed some chances, but created plenty and were rarely troubled defensively, Toronto’s tries coming from a kick and then an interception.

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Tigers' George Griffin (left) and Adam Milner are treated after a clash of heads. Picture by Tony Johnson.

Halves Jacob Trueman and Danny Richardson gave glimpses of how effective they could be when they bed in, Grant Millington set a strong lead in the pack and Cheyse Blair, a centre playing in the second-row, also impressed.

The second half scoring was shared, but Tigers had got the job done by leading 22-4 at the interval.

Wolfpack’s former Wakefield Trinity winger Liam Kay had the honour of scoring their first Super League try, running through to touch down Blake Wallace’s grubber after just three minutes.

It looked like Toronto, coached by former Leeds Rhinos boss McDermott and including ex-Headingley duo Anthony Mullally and Brad Singleton, might score again five minutes later.

Paul McShane in action for Castleford Tigers in their win over Toronto Wolfpack.

But Hakim Miloudi spilled Josh McCrone’s pass just short and Greg Eden - only playing because off-season signing Sosaia Feki is injured - picked up and raced the length of the field to score.

Richardson landed the first of his three conversions.

Millington stretched over from Richardson’s pass and then Trueman cut through and passed towards Millington almost on Toronto’s line, but Josh McCrone got in the way.

Wolfpack countered and would probably have scored, but Kay spilled Joe Mellor’s pass near half-way with a clear run to the line.

Adam Milner had a spell in the concussion bin following a sickening clash of heads with George Griffin.

The latter didn’t return from a head check, but Milner did and scored almost immediately, from Jordan Rankin’s kick, on 31 minutes.

Three later, Trueman was held up over the line by Mellor and Wallace, but two plays after that Michael Shenton celebrated his competitive return from long-term injury with a well-worked try created by Trueman and Rankin.

Richardson landed a penalty after the half-hooter and the result was placed beyond doubt six minutes into the second period when Peter Mata’utia sliced through, moments after video ref Chris Kendall ruled Blair had been held up over the line.

Miloudi pulled a try back with a 70 metre sprint after intercepting Rankin’s pass at the start of the final quarter and Kendall - after a ridiculously long look - overruled referee James Child for the second time in the game, deciding Adam Sidlow had knocked on over the whitewash.

It was Toronto’s first defeat since a 46-16 drubbing at Toulouse Olympique 11 months ago.

They gave the ball some air and played nice rugby in brief patches, but whether their squad - largely unchanged from last year in the Championship - is good enough to compete at this level remains to be seen.

Toronto Wolfpack: Wallace, Kay, Miloudi, Leutele, Russell, Mellor, McCrone, Sidlow, Ackers, Mullally, Dixon, Olbison, Wilkin. Subs Springer, Singleton, Cunningham, Williams.

Castleford Tigers: Rankin, Olpherts, Mata’utia, Shenton, Eden, Trueman, Richardson, Watts, McShane, Millington, Griffin, Blair, Milner. Subs Massey, Smith, O’Neill, Hepi.

Referee: James Child (Dewsbury).