Despite leading 22-4 at the half-time break, Castleford Tigers found themselves in yet another nail-biting finish against closest rivals Wakefield Trinity.
Despite putting themselves under immense pressure from the kick-off, the Tigers held out and managed to score the first try of the game.
Jake Trueman’s high bomb was fumbled by Mason Caton-Brown. This allowed James Clare to race onto the loose ball and dot down.
It took them just five minutes to grab a second as Jesse Sene-Lefao crashed over from close range.
The bad news for Cas though was the front-rower picked up a dislocated shoulder and had to leave the field.
Peter Mata’utia converted both for a 12-0 lead.
Clare picked up his second try in the next set. A break from Cory Aston put the Tigers on the front foot.
A few tackles later, an offload off the floor from Watts, gave Cas an overlap, which Clare exploited.
Debutant Cory Aston then made it four tries in 24 minutes for the home side.
Daniel Smith and Liam Watts combined to break through the Trinity defence and Smith offloaded to the half-back who the slid under the posts.
Wakefield were determined not to let this game get out of control.
The first attacking set for Trinity deep inside the Tigers half ended with a spectacular finish in the corner from Mason Caton-Brown, who was making his second debut for the club.
Castleford then camped inside Wakefield territory for the remainder of the half.
In the final few minutes, Mata’utia had the chance to convert two penalty attempts but they both drifted wide.
HALF-TIME: CASTLEFORD TIGERS 22-4 WAKEFIELD TRINITY
Multiple attacking sets on the bounce from the Tigers put Trinity under pressure once again.
After holding out for five minutes, Castleford spread the ball wide and Greg Minikin burrowed his way over.
Another debutant managed to get himself over the line a minute later.
However, Ben Reynolds was held up by Liam Watts and Cory Aston. This was purely academic as the fifth tackle play that followed resulted in Wakefield’s second try of the evening.
Caton-Brown climbed higher than Clare to claim Hampshire’s high kick to score his second.
As Mitch Clark charged through the Wakefield players, he collided with Pauli Pauli which seemed to put a spring in the Trinity side as Caton-Brown then followed up with a big tackle on Clare.
Another penalty conceded by Wakefield at the play-the-ball, gave Cas another shot at goal.
This time Mata’utia converted to extend the lead to 20 points with 25 minutes remaining.
Just after the hour mark, Joe Arundel pushed past Greg Minikin and had enough strength to get past Cory Aston to score in the corner. Hampshire converted to make the score 28-14.
After being held-up earlier in the game, Ben Reynolds finally managed to get a try on his debut.
Max Jowitt managed to step inside Minikin and released Reynolds who raced over the line. Hampshire converted to make it 28-20.
Wakefield scored again, straight from the kick-off.
Powerful runs from Fifita and Pauli Pauli put Trinity on the front foot.
Ben Jones-Bishop patted down Ben Reynolds high kick into the hands of Tirinau Arona who slid over the line.
Hampshire converted from the touchline to put Wakefield to within two points with 8 minutes remaining.
After a charge down from Ben Reynolds, Ben Jones-Bishop nearly found himself over in the corner but Junior Moors and Mata’utia combined to stop the winger.
With less than two minutes to go, Reynolds knocked the ball on just inside the Tigers half and the home-side held on to clinch an important victory.
FULL-TIME: CASTLEFORD TIGERS 28-26 WAKEFIELD TRINITY
Peter Mata’utia, James Clare, Greg Minikin, Michael Shenton, Greg Eden, Jake Trueman, Cory Aston, Liam Watts, Adam Milner, Jesse Sene-Lefao, Oliver Holmes, Mike McMeeken, Nathan Massey.
Interchanges: Junior Moors, Mitch Clark, Jacques O’Neill, Daniel Smith
Tries: James Clare (2), Jesse Sene-Lefao, Cory Aston, Greg Minikin
Goals: Peter Mata’utia (4/8)
Max Jowitt, Mason Caton-Brown, Joe Arundel, Reece Lyne, Ben Jones-Bishop, Ben Reynolds, Ryan Hampshire, David Fifita, Kyle Wood, Tinirau Arona, Matty Ashurst, Danny Kirmond, Jordan Crowther.
Interchanges: Craig Kopczak, Keegan Hirst, Pauli Pauli, George King.
Tries: Mason Caton-Brown (2), Joe Arundel, Ben Reynolds, Tirinau Arona
Goals: Ryan Hampshire (3/5)
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