Castleford Tigers 40 Widnes 26: Denny Solomona's record try haul allows Dorn to depart on high
The second of Solomona’s three tries in a 40-26 win over Widnes Vikings established a new club record for most touchdowns in a season.
Solomona finished the year with an incredible 42 tries from just 29 appearances, eclipsing the previous Castleford record of 40 in 41 games set by the late St John Ellis in 1993-94.
His 40 Super League tries and seven hat-tricks – which includes one four-try haul – are both new competition records.
It was a memorable afternoon all round for Castleford, who climbed above Catalans Dragons to finish fifth on the Super-8s table. They were led out by Luke Dorn, ahead of the final game of his career and the Australian was among Castleford’s scorers.
Widnes opened the scoring when Tom Gilmore’s kick was batted back by Hep Cahill and Connor Farrell touched down, Lloyd White adding the extras.
Dorn crossed soon afterwards from a pass by Jake Webster, who then sent Solomona over to equal Ellis’ record. The historic moment came two minutes before the interval, when Castleford were down to 12 men with Paul McShane in the sin-bin for flopping on Chris Dean.
Gilmore kicked straight at the New Zealander, who made a comfortable catch near his own line and raced 80 metres untouched to cross between the posts, to a standing ovation from the Castleford fans.
Super League’s two leading try scorers were in direct opposition, with Solomona facing Corey Thompson, who began the afternoon second on the list with 25.
Two minutes into the second half Thompson increased his tally after Solomona failed to deal with Gilmore’s high kick.
That cut Castleford’s lead to six points, but they responded with two tries in as many minutes, both created by Luke Gale.
His pass sent Ben Crooks through a big gap in the defence then the scrum-half kicked over the line and Solomona ran through to touch down.
Matt Cook scored his first try of the season, from a pass by McShane and the hooker scored himself, moments after Farrell had been sin-binned for holding down. Gale’s sixth conversion made it 40-10, but Widnes ran in three tries through Patrick Ah Van, Farrell and Thompson and White added two conversions.
Castleford coach Daryl Powell described fifth place as a “phenomenal achievement” after an injury-hit year, but insisted: “We are after more, we are aiming for something special.
“We have got a lot of high-quality players who have bought into the way we play, but the key thing for us moving forward is we’ve got to defend better. If we do that we will be a force.”
Castleford Tigers: Dorn, Flynn, Webster, Minikin, Solomona, Hampshire, Gale, Cook, McShane, Springer, O Holmes, Savelio, Milner. Substitutes: Maher, Chase, Crooks, McMeeken.
Widnes Vikings: Hanbury, Thompson, Dean, Runciman, Ah Van, Mellor, Gilmore, J Chepelhow, White, Dudson, Whitley, Farrell, Cahill. Substitutes: T Chapelhow, Leuluai, Heremaia, Manuokafoa.
Referee: J Smith (Warrington).