Castleford scrum-half Luke Gale was in inspiring form as the Tigers maintained their unbeaten start to the Super League season with a thrilling 30-22 victory over Warrington at the Halliwell Jones stadium.
Gale claimed one try, had a hand in two others and landed three goals as the Tigers showed why many are tipping them to be real Super League challengers in 2017 with this success over last year’s beaten Grand Finalists.
Former Man of Steel Zak Hardaker also caught the eye with a try and a spectacular 70-metre break from deep inside his own half to set up Gale’s try during an eight-minute purple patch in the first half which saw the Tigers cross for four tries.
Jesse Sene-Lefao and Greg Eden also touched down in a stunning spell of attacking rugby by Daryl Powell’s side and the win was secured with a fine second-half try from winger Greg Minikin and Eden’s second of the game five minutes from time.
Winger Tom Lineham and second row forward Andre Savellio both claimed two tries for the Wolves, who are still looking for their first league win of the season with Declan Patton kicking two goals and Harvey Livett adding another.
The Wolves were quickest out of the blocks, Kevin Brown’s crossfield kick was palmed back by Rhys Evans and second row forward Savellio did well to scoop up the loose ball to dive over before Patton added the conversion.
The Wolves were an inch away from increasing their lead when Joe Westerman just failed to touch down a Patton kick and Castleford immediately went down the other end of the field and Gale sent Sene-Lefao over.
Two minutes later, Mike McMeeken set off on a 40-metre midfield run before sending Hardaker racing clear to score.
Gale added both conversions to turn the game on its head as the Tigers led 12-6.
And it got even better for Powell’s men when quick hands by Gale and Hardaker got Eden over in the corner before Hardaker brushed through some poor defensive efforts and sprinted 70 metres before sending Gale clear to score – and the scrum-half kicked his third goal of the half to make it 22-6.
The Wolves gave themselves a lifeline three minutes from the break when Lineman managed to power over from close range.
The deficit was cut to six points when Brown’s long pass saw Lineham claim his second try of the night, Patton converting.
But the Tigers hit back when a mazy run by Rangi Chase saw the visitors keep the ball alive and Minikin beat four men as he crossed to make it 26-16.
The Wolves were fighting hard though and set up an exciting finale when Savellio claimed his second try which Livett converted to make it 26-20.
But Cas held their nerve and Eden sealed the victory with his second try of the night five minutes from time.
Warrington Wolves: Johnson, Russell, Evans, Atkins, Lineham, Brown, Patton, Cooper, Clark, Sims, Hughes, Savelio, Westerman. Substitutes: Dwyer, Crosby, Livett, Westwood.
Castleford Tigers: Hardaker, Minikin, Webster, Shenton, Eden, Chase, Gale, Lynch, Milner, Springer, Sene-Lefao, McMeeken, Massey. Substitutes: Millington, Moors, Cook, Monaghan.
Referee: P Bentham (RFL).