Wakefield Trinity 12 Castleford Tigers 28: Greg Eden hat-trick edges visitors towards Super League survival
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Castleford remain second from bottom, but are now two points clear of Wakefield with only five games remaining. Trinity, having been six adrift of safety, would have been delighted with that in June, but it will take a special effort for them to bounce back from this disappointment and overhaul their nearest rivals now.
Trinity had won their previous four home games, but were second best in this one, though a couple of disallowed tries would have made a big difference had they been awarded.
Danny Ward had been in the Castleford coaching hot seat for little more than a week, but already his charges look much more like a team than the dispirited bunch beaten in Andy Last’s final game two weeks ago.
While Wakefield struggled to apply any sustained pressure, Tigers defended with greater resolve than in previous games, they remained composed when things went against them and their finishing was excellent, three tries in 14 minutes either side of the break putting them in the driving seat.
The spine of full-back Gareth Widdop, who landed three conversions and a penalty, debutant Blake Austin and ex-Trinity captain Jacob Miller were more creative than their rivals and the visitors’ had the superior kicking game.
Considering what was at stake, it might have been a drab affair, but both teams tried to move the ball and the lead changed hands three times in an entertaining contest.
Trinity, though, seemed to lose heart in the closing stages and they made some tired errors at key moments.
Left-winger Greg Eden led the way for the visitors, scoring their crucial tries just before half-time, after Wakefield had briefly gone ahead and completing his hat-trick after the final hooter.
Tigers struck the first blow, through recent signing Charbel Tasipale, after just eight minutes. That was reward for some spirited defence on their own line, from a penalty and six-again, moments earlier.
Jack Broadbent made an initial run before Miller hoisted a kick towards Wakefield’s posts, the ball went back off Liam Watts and was gathered by Tasipale who stepped inside past Josh Griffin and planted the ball down.
Video official Jack Smith wasn’t convinced by the grounding, but eventually gave the green light.
Tigers were good value for their early lead, but had an escape nine minutes later when it appeared Griffin had registered a debut try. The centre, in his first game since being suspended for seven matches following a red card in Hull FC’s Challenge Cup quarter-final loss to St Helens, thought he had scored when he grounded a kick by Luke Gale which had rebounded off Austin.
Kendall indicated a try, but was overruled by Smith who spotted Matty Ashurst in an offside position and within 10 metres from the kick, though he didn’t have an influence on the touchdown.
Tigers would have been well satisfied with their start to the game, but Trinity, temporarily, turned it on its head with back-to-back tries either side of the half-hour mark, wich was their best spell on the match..
The first was an excellent finish by Max Jowitt after Gale and Mason Lino had handled, the field position coming from an error by Austin and then a penalty.
Another penalty in the next set carried Trinity back upfield and Griffin wasn’t to be denied this time, crossing from Lino’s delayed pass. Jowitt missed with both conversion attempts and two errors by the home side were ruthlessly punished in the final four minutes of the half as Castleford rallied to take a two-score lead into the break.
First, Tom Lineham spilled Austin’s spiral kick and in the resulting set Eden finished superbly from Widdop’s pass. The full-back then again provided the final ball to Eden, with 40 seconds remaining, after a big hit from Austin forced Griffin into a knock on deep in Trinity territory, the try coming direct from the scrum base.
Leading 16-8 at the interval, the visitors took an even firmer grip on the game 10 minutes into the second period when Alex Foster, who had replaced Broadbent after he suffered a suspected fractured shoulder, finished off a counter-attack begun through Elliot Wallis’ brilliant kick-return and carried on by the impressive Tasipale.
Griffin pulled four points back for Trinity with his second try soon afterwards, though Gale could not add the extras. Tom Lineham’s spectacular finish just after the hour would have got Wakefield right back into the contest, but Reece Lyne’s pass was ruled forward and Wakefield never really threatened after that.
They received back-to-back penalties in the next set and Widdop booted the second of them to make it 24-12 and Eden’s last-gasp touchdown put icing on the cake.
Wakefield Trinity: Jowitt, Senior, Griffin, Lyne, Lineham, Lino, Gale, Bowden, Hood, Whitbread, Ashurst, Pitts, Proctor. Subs Kay, Fifita, Atoni, Battye.
Castleford Tigers: Widdop, Wallis, Broadbent, Turner, Eden, Austin, Miller, Watts, Horne, Lawler, Edwards, Tasipale, Westerman. Subs Griffin, Massey, Matagi, Foster.
Referee: Chris Kendall (Huddersfield).