Castleford Tigers 32 Widnes Vikings 22 - Greg Eden lands third straight hat-trick to inspire comeback

Greg Eden continued his remarkable scoring record with a third-successive hat-trick as leaders Castleford came from behind to beat bottom side Widnes.

Castleford's Greg Eden scored his third successive hat-trick. Picture by Allan McKenzie/
Castleford's Greg Eden scored his third successive hat-trick. Picture by Allan McKenzie/

On his 100th career appearance, Super League’s leading scorer took his overall tally for the season to 24 tries in just 16 appearances.

Eden’s scores proved vital as the Tigers came from 22-10 behind early in the second half to eke out a fifth-straight victory, while condemning Widnes to a fifth-successive defeat.

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Tigers boss Daryl Powell made three changes to the side that beat Leeds at Newcastle in last Sunday’s Magic Weekend encounter, while Widnes head coach Denis Betts made seven changes following last week’s heavy defeat at the hands of Wakefield.

Luke Gale.

Castleford playmaker Rangi Chase made his debut for the Vikings in that match having joined them on loan for the rest of the season but the terms of his loan meant he was ineligible to face his parent club.

It was perhaps no surprise that Castleford forced all the early pressure.

England scrum-half Luke Gale enjoyed plenty of possession but the Vikings defended tenaciously as Castleford prop Grant Millington was held up over the line.

In the 11th minute, Gale was involved in a sweeping handling sequence which led to full-back Zak Hardaker sending Eden over in the left corner.

Luke Gale.

The Vikings continued to defend doggedly and they replied in the 19th minute when they worked the ball across the face of the Tigers’ defence and Ryan Ince touched down in the right corner.

It was a fine finish from the young winger and Ed Chamberlain added the extras before Ince showed his worth at the other end of the field by forcing Eden to knock on when near the line.

Once again, Widnes advanced up field to breach Castleford’s defence as Jack Johnson jinked through the home rearguard and dived under the posts for a try which Chamberlain converted.

Jesse Sene-Lefao then went close in the left corner after being stopped just short before home replacement Gadwin Springer threw a wayward pass which Charly Runciman intercepted to put Widnes back on the attack.

As the interval approached, Springer underlined his physical prowess when he claimed possession inside Widnes’ 20-metre line and barged through several visiting defenders to score.

Gale converted to leave Widnes 12-10 up at the break and – six minutes after the restart – another flowing move culminated in Corey Thompson taking a pass from Runciman and diving over in the left corner.

Two minutes later, Jordan Johnstone drove through the heart of the Tigers’ defence to score after supporting Chamberlain’s break following a pass from Lloyd White.

Chamberlain’s third goal put the away side 22-10 up but Castleford roused themselves and Ben Roberts cleverly put Greg Minikin over inside the right channel in the 54th minute.

Four minutes later, Gale’s kick to the left corner found the onrushing Eden and he touched down to score before the winger, who scored a hat-trick in last week’s win over Leeds, completed another treble when he raced over in the left corner with six minutes remaining, with Gale converting.

There was still time for Matt Cook to go under the posts late, Gale kicking his fourth goal.

Castleford Tigers: Hardaker, Monaghan, Minikin, Shenton, Eden, Roberts, Gale, Lynch, McShane, Millington, Sene-Lefao, McMeeken, Massey. Substitutes: Milner, Cook, Springer, T. Holmes.

Widnes Vikings: Johnson, Ince, Chamberlain, Runciman, Thompson, Heremaia, Johnstone, Burke, White, Gerrard, B. Walker, Olbison, J. Chapelhow.Substitutes: E. Chapelhow, Cahill, D. Walker, Manuokafoa.

Referee: Chris Campbell (RFL)