IN A PERFECT demonstration of ‘smash and grab’, Castleford Tigers got their season back up and running last night.
Daryl Powell’s side spent much of this West Yorkshire derby defending their own line, particularly in the second half when Wakefield scrum-half Danny Brough’s continual peppering of Tuoyo Egodo caused no end of problems.
Granted, Castleford had gone 14-10 ahead with the first of winger James Clare’s hat-trick in the 45th minute but then it was all defensive steel as they repelled their hosts time and time again.
It looked like they would eventually succumb only to counter-attack not once, but twice.
First, with a rare venture into Trinity territory, full-back Jordan Rankin did brilliantly to steal in front of opposite number Ryan Hampshire and collect Peter Mata’utia’s high kick and score in the 56th minute.
Oli Holmes, the England second-row who made an impressive return from injury, messed up the restart and that saw Brough dummy over and bring it back to 20-16.
Ordinarily, that would set up a dramatic finish where the veteran scrum-half generally comes into his own.
However, Castleford, with young Jake Trueman pulling the strings, refused to let him take control.
Instead, they launched another raid with Paul McShane this time showing the guile to pick out a perfect pass for Clare to add his second in the 69th minute
The 28-year-old quickly completed his treble when Egodo - who recovered well from some early mistakes - made a storming run to break Trinity once more and then Rankin added his second in a similar style to his first.
Winger Egodo had come in after Greg Eden was dropped following a dreadful mistake in defeat against Leeds Rhinos last week and he must have feared the worst himself after some costly dropped balls.
But he showed great spirit to get back in the game, even if opposite wideman Clare took the plaudits.
For Wakefield, this was an eighth defeat in nine games and leaves them lurching too near the relegation zone for their liking.
It is now 13 games since they last beat Castleford but, at the moment, they would take a win against anyone and face another tricky encounter at Wigan next Thursday.
Tigers had missed Trueman’s organisational quality when he missed his first game of the season last week but how they welcomed him back last night to get back in the play-off hunt.
The 20-year-old created a try in each half, first with a brilliant break for Holmes - making his return after being injured at Easter - and then produced a quality looped pass for Clare’s opener.
Initially, the game was tight with both defences being on top.
Indeed, there was no score until Danny Brough broke the deadlock with a 24th minute penalty.
There had been few chances of note, Castleford having the best of the limited few only to see Clare bundled into touch and Cheyse Blair spilling just as he had a sniff out wide.
Brough had sailed his first kick directly into touch but, once he got his radar on, he helped create some pressure of their own.
They earned a drop-out but Castelford held firm, Mason Caton-Brown denied any space near the touchline.
The visitors, though, did not help themselves, second-row Mike McMeeken twice losing the ball heading into contact coming out of his own half.
Fortunately, the excellent Greg Minikin was in good shape, the Tigers centre doing brilliantly to stop Bill Tupou with a crucial tackle and then also rising high to claim Brough’s latest threatening kick.
Given the ongoing stalemate, it was perhaps no surprise when Brough opted for that easy two points.
They were gifted the opening try, though, at the end of the restart set.
Egodo let Brough’s long downfield kick bounce - never a good idea whoever the kicker is - and could only watch on in horror and panic as it spun back to the opposition.
Moments later, amid all the panic, England centre Reece Lyne kept calm to usher Kyle Wood over for the try that Brough improved.
But Castleford responded almost immediately. Holmes, with his first touch after entering the field, made a searing and, as Ben Jones-Bishop slipped, Egodo applied the finish.
However, once more his side failed to deal with a kick - the restart going back to Wakefield - and when they were caught offside Brough added another two points.
Trueman made his first imprint on the game, though, with a classy break to set up Holmes before the break, the second-row showing great speed to get the better of full-back Ryan Hampshire, and they would never let up.
Wakefield Trinity: Hampshire; Jones-Bishop, Lyne, Tupou, Caton-Brown; Miller, Brough; England, Wood, Tanginoa, Pauli, Arundel, Batchelor. Substitutes: Crowther, King, Kopczak, Hirst.
Castleford Tigers: Rankin; Clare, Blair, Minikin, Egodo; Trueman, Mata’utia, Watts, McShane, Clarkson, Sene-Lefao, McMeeken, Milner. Substitutes: Massey, O’Neill, Millington, Holmes.
Referee: Marcus Griffiths (Leigh)