Wigan Warriors 30 Castleford Tigers 22 - report and reaction
Wigan’s 30-22 win at HJ Stadium in Warrington, was marred by an injury to Tigers’ winger James Clare who was carried from the field on a stretcher early in the second half.
Wigan’s substitute forward Morgan Smithies was sin-binned following tackle on Clare.
Tigers coach Daryl Powell said: "It's a crusher tackle isn't it?.
"A really poor tackle, there was another one early on which got missed by the ref. We're trying to get them out of the game, you can see the impact on the player when it happens."
Of Clare he said: "He has gone to hospital, we will keep our fingers crossed he's okay."
Castleford made a strong start, full-back Gareth O’Brien breaking the early deadlock with Tigers’ first points for 161 minutes.
Having held out under heavy pressure near their own line in the opening stages, Tigers made the most of their first serious attack, which came after Bevan French fumbled a kick by Jake Trueman.
Oliver Holmes picked up and should have scored, but was denied by a combination of Liam Marshall and a post.
He lost possession, but Tigers got the ball for the first knock-on, then a penalty and a set restart.
After all that, Trueman’s pass picked out O’Brien and he threw a dummy to scoot over for his first Tigers try, after 15 minutes.
Danny Richardson converted and added the extras again when Nathan Massey forced his way across the line from close range soon afterwards, but Wigan quickly replied with back to back tries.
Sam Powell caught the defence napping from acting-half, Zak Hardaker converting and then Joe Burgess was in support to cross from Liam Farrell’s break.
There was no goal that time, but Wigan hit the front six minutes before the interval when they kept the ball alive on the last and Ben Flower finished off some quick handling, Hardaker tagging on the two to make it 16-12 at the break.
Tigers received the penalty after the stoppage for Clare’s injury, forced a drop out in that set and hit level with a fine, unconverted, try when Adam Milner, Richardson and O’Brien moved the ball wide for Derrell Olpherts to go over at the corner.
Wigan went back in front with a penalty goal seconds before Smithies’ return from the sin-bin and then - after Ethan Havard was held up over Tigers’ line - a superb pass from Thomas Leuluai sent Farrell through a gap and Hardaker’s kick made it 24-16.
Twelve minutes from time Harry Smith booted a 40-20 and Joe Bullock crashed over in the next set, Hardaker’s conversion putting the game out of Tigers’ reach
With five minutes left Hardaker kicked fresh air trying to boot the ball dead and Michael Shenton touched down.
Richardson landed his third goal, but that was as close as Tigers got.
Powell said: "I thought we were way off, it was a disappointing effort .
"We're going to have to respond quickly, I think we deserved to get beat today."
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