Warriors have the edge over mis-firing Castleford

Garry LoGarry Lo
Garry Lo
WIGAN WARRIORS' Joe Burgess recaptured some of his old England form to crucially blast holes that left Castleford Tigers always chasing last night.

The winger gave Daryl Powell’s side all sorts of problems, twice making long-range breaks to help set up two tries for Oliver Gildart.

Granted, Castleford, who recovered from 14-2 down to trail just 14-12 at the break, were still always in the contest.

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But after Sam Tomkins’ 40/20 kick led to England stand-off George Williams stepping over in the 57th minute, they fell 24-12 behind and – given their laxness with the ball – it would always prove difficult from there.

They had chances but, too often, their control was found wanting; they swept past Catalans Dragons 41-0 on Sunday but these opponents were a different proposition entirely.

Jake Webster, the usually reliable Kiwi centre, had a wretched night especially in defence but he also made two knock-ons when in good positions.

He was not alone; Adam Milner made an excellent break near the death only to fumble when playing the ball. It summed up the West Yorkshire club’s night. Instead, when Garry Lo – the Papuan winger who scored on his Super League debut with James Clare injured – spilled coming out of his own 20, Tony Clubb barged over in the 76th minute to make sure.

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Wigan won 9-8 at champions Leeds Rhinos last week and here dispatched the League Leaders Shield holders to cement their place in second just behind leaders St Helens.

The way the game started must have left England rugby union head coach Eddie Jones – a guest of Wigan chairman Ian Lenagan – feeling right at home.

Strangely, there was three penalty attempts at goal in the opening 12 minutes.

Luke Gale opened the scoring first and, though Sam Tomkins was wide with his first effort, he wasn’t with his second.

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In between, ex-Sheffield Eagles star Lo almost got his debut off to a dream start by hacking on a loose Wigan pass and charging up the field but Williams got back to mess up his hopes of a try. That feat would come later.

However, it was the hosts who took control with two ruthless tries down their left edge.

First, Burgess, having switched to centre, bumped off Webster – not many players do that to the 34-year-old – and surged clear from his own half.

Greg Minikin, the Castleford winger, did marvellously to chase down the former England winger but a quick play-the-ball meant his effort was rendered worthless; Gildart skipped in the final five metres untouched from dummy-half.

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Webster was then harshly penalised for blocking a Wigan chaser at a kick to set up position for their second try.

That said, Benny Roberts will be disappointed allowing Liam Farrell to twist out of his attempted tackle from 20m out, the ex-England second-row then accelerating in.

Sam Tomkins improved both but, once Castleford earned a couple of penalties to gain some position of their own they were able to make a mark.

Oli Holmes cut a lovely line to angle over off Gale’s short pass to get them started.

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Soon after, Jake Trueman –again belying his teenage years at full-back – showed great precision to find the right pass for Lo to cross in the 37th minute.

Gale could not improve the second effort but they were just two points behind at the break.

Nevertheless, the second period got off to the worst possible start as Burgess – again having come inside to centre – this time went around Webster to sprint 60m field downfield and set up Gildart.

Wigan Warriors: Tomkins; marshall, Bateman, Gildart, Burgess; Williams, Powell; Clubb, Leuluai, Flower, Isa, Farrell, O’Loughlin. Subs: J Tomkins, Sutton, Tautai, Navarrete.

Castleford Tigers: Trueman; Minikin, Webster, Shenton, Lo; Roberts, Gale; Watts, McShane, Massey, Holmes, Wardle, Foster. Subs: Millington, McMeeken, Milner, Cook.

Referee: Robert Hicks (Oldham).