Castleford Tigers 35 Warrington Wolves 20: Classy Cas' back to Wembley

JORDAN Turner scored a hat-trick as Castleford Tigers completed a remarkable turnaround to dump Warrington Wolves out of the Challenge Cup and reach Wembley for the first time since 2014.

Just eight days ago, Daryl Powell’s embarrassed side suffered a record-breaking 60-6 home defeat to Leeds Rhinos, a third straight loss that left them facing all sorts of questions ahead of this semi-final.

However, Powell said then that they could recover in time to beat the club he will join at the end of the season and they duly did in a stunning show as they set up a showpiece against St Helens at Wembley on July 17.

Sign up to our daily newsletter

The i newsletter cut through the noise

He was able to make eight changes to the side that lost against Leeds, bringing back numerous players from injury, and the effect was obvious.

Gareth O’Brien was an inspired choice at scrum-half for the dropped Danny Richardson, picking Warrington apart almost at will at times, while fit-again full-back Niall Evalds brought all his quality to their attacking play.

It was not always easy - it never is with Castleford; they led 19-0 at the break after some scintillating football but saw Wolves score two tries via Ben Currie and Jake Mamo at the start of the second period to leave them at 19-8.

Fortunately, that was as serious as their opponents got as they bumbled their way through the rest of the game.

Currie bizarrely passed into touch at the restart allowing Jake Trueman and O’Brien to find Evalds who wonderfully held his pass until Jesse Sene-Lefao was ready to strike through a gaping gap.

Castleford Tigers' Paul McShane celebrates his try (SWPIX)

Even though Jacques O’Neill, the young Castleford loose forward, was yellow carded not long after entering the field, for a dangerous tackle on Toby King, it did not deter Powell’s side, whose pack proved outstanding.

Yes, King did weave through some meek defence to score in the next set but, once more from the restart, Warrington erred, Currie this time spilling Stefan Ratchford’s pass.

From there, Evalds’ excellent long pass saw Turner - the makeshift winger who must be one of the signings of 2021 after his arrival from Huddersfield Giants - hold off Blake Austin to touch down for his treble.

In the next set, and still down to 12 men, Derrell Olpherts unleashed O’Brien on another break before Paul McShane produced a lovely runaround with Alex Foster - playing his first game of the season - to score another try.

Castleford Tigers' Jesse Sene-Lefao scores (SWPIX)

O’Brien improved and - after Josh Charnley replied with a try - added a penalty to leave Powell’s side in charge.

Powell had led Castleford to the final in 2014, his first full season in charge at Wheldon Road, and it would be fitting now if he could finish off his reign at the club with a first Cup win since 1986.

They showed real character and class in this performance but Warrington were desperately poor.

They arguably had the best chance of the opening exchanges when Austin dummied over only to be denied by a desperate effort from Turner and Trueman who combined to ensure the Wolves saw the ball dislodged.

Castleford Tigers' Jordan Turner scores one of his three tries (SWPIX)

Instead, O’Brien did dummy over at the other end in the 16th minute for a try he also converted.

When Evalds’ smart pass set Oli Holmes free from near halfway, Turner was eventually brought down just short but Jake Mamo - reported to be joining Castleford in 2022 - was sin-binned for holding down the Tigers winger.

O’Brien slotted the simple two points and - unlike Warrington later - Powell’s side certainly made the most of their numerical advantage, Turner helping himself to two tries when finishing off some quality build-up play.

That made it 18-0 and, after Mamo’s return, McShane added a drop goal.

They had needed a one-pointer to win in both previous rounds against Hull KR and Salford Red Devils so you could understand his thinking.

In the end, it was not required here as Castleford motored on to Wembley.

Castleford Tigers: Evalds; Olpherts, Mata’utia, Shenton, Turner; Trueman, O’Brien; Massey, McShane, Matagi, Holmes, Sene-Lefao, Milner. Substitutes: Watts, Foster, O’Neill, Clare.

Warrington Wolves: Ratchford; Lineham, Mamo, King, Charnley; Austin, Widdop; Hill, D Clark, Cooper, Currie, Hughes, Davis. Substitutes: Mulhern, Philbin, Akauola, Walker.

Referee: Chris Kendall (Huddersfield)