WHEN Castleford Tigers announced they were bringing their home fixture against Wigan Warriors forward two days, the visitors made it clear they were not happy about the switch.
Wigan continued to look like they would rather be somewhere else as Castleford exploited their lethargy to get off the mark in Super League with a well-earned win at Wheldon Road last night.
The lopsided scoreline was a fair reflection.
The home team, who had lost their three previous games, were everything Wigan were not: enthusiastic, disciplined and clinical with the ball.
Luke Gale, the lively scrum-half signed from Bradford Bulls, did a fine job of pulling the strings behind a dominant pack which made light of the absence, through injury, of captain Andy Lynch.
Gale came up with a fine kicking game, including a 40-20 in the first half, teased the defence with ball in hand and landed seven goals from eight attempts.
It was not the most spectacular of performances by Castleford, but they played to their strengths, defended with spirit on the rare occasions they were put under pressure and never looked troubled after taking a 10-0 lead before Wigan had been in possession of the ball.
It was the perfect start for a team needing an injection of confidence after a series of disappointing results.
Wigan conceded an early penalty; Anthony Gelling knocked a pass down to give Castleford a repeat set and at the end of that Justin Carney swatted off Josh Charnley on a powerful run to the line.
Gale could not convert that, but added the extras to the next three tries as the home team went 22-4 ahead at half-time.
The re-start following Carney’s touchdown was kicked out on the full and in the resulting set opposite winger James Clare, given a chance because of an injury to Denny Solomona, produced a spectacular diving try after Grant Millington had moved the ball wide.
The first two tries came inside five minutes and Carney added another, this time carrying Charnley over the line with him, on 13.
Wigan pulled a try back soon afterwards through Charnley, but Castleford remained on the front foot and increased their lead on the stroke of half-time.
Dorn, making his first appearance of the season in place of the injured Jordan Tansey, dummied to Carney and went himself to complete a fine score which left Castleford very much in the driving seat.
Wigan, who have now suffered back-to-back league defeats following their World Club Series loss to Brisbane Broncos, are gaining a reputation for petulance and Joel Tomkins handed Castleford an easy two points for dissent at the start of the second half.
Charnley quickly pulled a second unconverted try back, but the home team knew it was going to be their night when Finn scored a fortunate try, regathering his own kick – which came back off Michael McIlorum – to stroll over.
This was an indication that the luck which had deserted Castleford earlier in the season was beginning to change.
Charnley then dropped a high kick from the impressive Finn and Oliver Holmes was gifted Castleford’s sixth touchdown.
Dorn’s return was important for Castleford and he made a searing break which led to the seventh try. He was tackled just short, but Castleford had the numbers and Holmes, who was another impressive performer, put Michael Shenton over.
This led to chants of ‘easy, easy’ from the home fans and there were ironic cheers when Wigan’s Matty Smith scored a late consolation try, which he also converted.
The fixture was brought forward from Sunday to allow Castleford extra time to prepare for Thursday’s visit to Huddersfield Giants. Despite Wigan’s reluctance, the crowd of 7,772 made it a worthwhile exercise for the home team.
Castleford Tigers: Dorn, Clare, Webster, Shenton, Carney, Finn, Gale, Cook, Milner, Millington, Holmes, Moors, Massey. Substitutes: Roberts, Boyle, Wheeldon, Crossley.
Wigan Warriors: Bowen, Charnley, Gelling, Sarginson, Manfredi, Powell, Smith, Clubb, McIlorum, Mossop. J Tomkins, L Farrell, Bateman. Substitutes: Williams, Tautai, Patrick, Greenwood.
Referee: T Roby.