Wakefield Trinity’s previous game at Belle Vue had been abandoned due to snow. Many fans may have wished the same result had occurred with this fixture last night.
There was no snow, of course, but the relentless, driving rain made for truly miserable conditions.
You could not argue with the effort and endeavour from both sides, but what people thought could be a thrilling West Yorkshire derby turned into a rudimentary, old-fashioned slugfest in the mud.
At the end of it all, and for the second week running, a drop-goal from Castleford’s England scrum-half Luke Gale proved pivotal.
Whereas his effort against Leeds Rhinos at Elland Road last Friday capped some stunning football and a 25-24 success versus the champions, his one-pointer last night was almost a prerequisite in the dank, dreadful mire.
It came in the 34th minute, enough to give Castleford a 7-0 interval lead after he had converted Mike McMeeken’s try.
Trinity winger Ben Jones-Bishop continued his impressive start to the season, scoring a wonderful try of his own as he won a 50m footrace to beat Jame Clare to Liam Finn’s long, downfield kick.
But it took his side until the hour mark to make that initial score and, for all they tried everything at the finish, they could not get that crucial second try.
Still, there was plenty of drama at the end. Gale’s second penalty in the 74th minute gave his side an 11-6 advantage, but Greg Minikin fumbled the tricky bouncing kick at the re-start offering Trinity a late chance to steal it.
Tom Johnstone weaved his way close, but could not ground and exhausted Castleford defended their line one last time to earn a ninth successive win against Trinity that takes them up to third in the table.
Again it was a vital moment; Castleford then edged their way downfield to the other end, just getting in shooting distance for Gale to slot his 36th-minute drop goal.Dave Craven
After winning their opening four games, Chris Chester’s side have now lost their last three ahead of Easter Monday’s trip to Hull FC.
They are sick of the sight of Gale. It was his last-minute drop goal that decided the last game here against Castleford last year.
Tigers, who sprung a surprise by playing teenage stand-off Jake Trueman at full-back, host Warrington Wolves on Easter Monday when Liam Watts, their recent buy from Hull FC, is set to debut having completed a three-match ban last night.
They should really have made more of their first-half possession last night given they forced Wakefield to drop-out four times.
However, all they could muster was McMeeken’s solitary try in the 17th minute.
The rest of the time Trinity either marshalled their defence well or the visitors lacked any real cutting edge.
In comparison, the hosts barely had any attacking opportunities yet, that said, they did get over the Castleford goalline twice.
Shortly before McMeeken’s effort Trinity prop Anthony England seemed certain to score as he charged over from close range.
However, Oli Holmes, the Castleford second-row who earlier in the day had announced a new two-year deal, produced a stunning tackle to halt his opponent’s momentum and England ended up spilling in the process.
It was a crucial intervention; Castleford, instead, broke the deadlock in their next possession.
Wakefield questioned whether they should have been penalised for a ball steal on Minikin beforehand, but the visitors capitalised regardless, Grant Millington and Benny Roberts combining to usher England second-row McMeeken over from 20m out.
Gale, whose kicking had pinned Trinity back, added the conversion, but there were few other chances.
Later, another huge prop – Trinity do have a few – in the shape of David Fifita barrelled close.
The Australian was not supposed to be in the side due to a troublesome groin, but, after his late inclusion, there looked no issues in that department as he muscled his way over.
As he did so, though, McMeeken hung onto the ball and it came lose as Fifita tried ripping himself clear.
Again it was a vital moment; Castleford then edged their way downfield to the other end, just getting in shooting distance for Gale to slot his 36th-minute drop goal.
You could sense he knew points would be in short supply.
And so it turned out. Another Trinity prop – Keegan Hirst – was held up trying to barge over early in the second period and it was not until the hour mark that they finally crossed via Jones-Bishop’s fine effort, but it would not be enough.
Wakefield Trinity: Grix, Jones-Bishop, Lyne, Tupou, Johnstone, Miller, Finn, England, Randell, Huby, Horo, Ashurst, Arona. Substitutes: Wood, Fifita, Hirst, Pauli.
Castleford Tigers: Roberts, Minikin, Webster, Shenton, Clare, Trueman, Gale, Cook, McShane, Millington, Holmes, McMeeken, Milner. Substitutes: Ellis, Moors, Foster, Springer.
Referee: James Child (Dewsbury).