Castleford Tigers 0 Wigan 22: Misfiring Tigers gift victory as Warriors end try drought

How ironic that Castleford Tigers could not score a try against befuddled opponents who had become renowned for just that.

Troubled Wigan Warriors had gone five successive halves without crossing and were edging closer to the four-hour mark when Jackson Hastings finally ended their barren run in the 14th minute last night.

Thereafter, Castleford had enough possession and territory to win three matches but badly fluffed their lines when a fifth successive win would have seen them usurp Wigan from fourth.

Sign up to our daily newsletter

The i newsletter cut through the noise

Instead, their opponents, who defended superbly but were given so much help by Tigers’ misfiring attack, added three more tries in the second period to ease the pressure on head coach Adrian Lam who otherwise faced four consecutive defeats.

Castleford Tigers' Derrell Olpherts. Picture: John Clifton/SWpix.com

It was the third game in 10 days for both sides and it showed.

Still, that will not help Castleford chief Daryl Powell who, with play-off rivals Leeds Rhinos and Hull FC both losing earlier in the day, knew this was a fine chance to help cement a top-six spot.

They had all the early pressure but did nothing with it mainly due to poor last plays, which then continually plagued them.

In contrast, Wigan scored with their first attack when Hastings straightened up from close in.

Harry Smith added the first of his three goals but the hosts initially continued to dominate in all facets other than the scoreboard.

Castleford’s forwards made ground comfortably, the likes of Nathan Massey, George Griffin and Suaia Matagi eating up metres around the ruck especially with Derrell Olpherts and Jordan Turner starting their sets so well.

However, when it came to the last 20m, Powell’s erring side were devoid of all cohesion, imagination and accuracy.

Too often Danny Richardson slid kicks directly to a Wigan defender, Gareth O’Brien was similarly off-target and they lacked injured hooker Paul McShane’s organisation from dummy-half.

When O’Brien did force a drop-out, Griffin spilled the ball when running it back from halfway.

Castleford were grateful to Oli Holmes who – for the third time in barely five minutes – won possession back with one of his trademark rib-rattling hits.

Joe Bullock spilled in his own half due to the sheer ferocity of the England second-row’s defence and Liam Byrne was the other stunned forward who finished on the wrong end of Holmes’s famed technique.

After Holmes’s third hit, possession was once more wasted by a wretched O’Brien kick. You began to wonder if Castleford would score before the turn of the next Bank Holiday. To compound matters, they were reduced to 12 men with just 14 seconds of the half left when Jesse Sene-Lefao this time rattled Bullock but illegally and was yellow carded.

That said, matters were levelled up – in terms of players on the pitch, at least – within just 53 seconds of the second half.

Byrne was sin-binned for a dangerous tackle around the lower leg of Massey but Tigers once more wasted the chance as Michael Shenton spilled.

Instead, they were grateful for Olpherts desperately getting a hand to a loose ball to prevent Oliver Gildart from scoring. O’Brien did force a second drop-out of the game yet, with a penalty, too, Castleford still could not get over.

Wigan remained steely but they were aided by the home side looking shambolic any time they tried to move the ball wide.

Smith missed a simple penalty attempt meaning Powell’s side were still in touch but then Castleford missed touch with a penalty of their own.

Matters got worse when Liam Marshall picked up another loose pass to race 80m for Wigan’s second try just before the hour.

Gildart added their third try with 13 minutes remaining, showing all the clinical touch Castleford had been so badly lacking, and Brad Singleton added a fourth with the final play.

With just three rounds remaining, Castleford face Salford Red Devils at Magic Weekend on Saturday with their play-offs fate still very much up in the air.

Castleford Tigers: Evalds; Olpherts, Mata’utia, Shenton, Turner; O’Brien, Richardson; Watts, Milner, Millington, Holmes, Sene-Lefao, Massey. Substitutes: Griffin, Foster, Eden, Matagai.

Wigan Warriors: Hardaker; Halsall, Bibby, Gildart, Marshall; Smith, Hastings; Singleton, Shorrocks, Partington, Bateman, Farrell, Smithies. Substitutes: Bullock, Byrne, Pearce-Paul, O’Neill.

Referee: James Child (Dewsbury).