Warrington 12-14 Castleford: Injury-hit Tigers end Wolves' hopes of winning Super League & Challenge Cup double

Castleford
Castleford

Patched-up Castleford kept their Old Trafford dream alive and dashed the double hopes of Warrington with a 14-12 victory in the elimination play-off at the Halliwell Jones Stadium.

The Wolves have the Challenge Cup safely in the trophy cabinet but their 64-year wait for the league title goes on, while the Tigers' reward for their gritty triumph is a trip to Wigan or Salford in next Thursday's semi-final.

Warrington ended the game a man short after centre Bryson Goodwin, playing his final match for the club, was sin-binned for kicking the ball away in frustration while the defeat brought to a sudden end to the distinguished career of 38-year-old former England forward Ben Westwood.

The Wolves went into the game with just one win in their previous eight league games - the worst record of any team in the league over the last two months - and they lost influential playmaker Blake Austin to injury at half-time but actually played better in his absence as they took the game down to the wire.

Castleford were without a host of regulars, having lost an entire back-row in last week's defeat at Wigan, and coach Daryl Powell re-shuffled his half-backs in a bid to spark an attack that lacked teeth against the Warriors.

As befitting a sudden-death match, there were plenty of nerves on show throughout a scrappy first half.

Even the normally reliable Stefan Ratchford was wide with an early penalty attempt but the Wolves had most of the pressure and Goodwin breached the Castleford line only to be held up.

The only try of the first half came on 27 minutes when loose forward Adam Milner, fresh off the bench, won the race to Paul McShane's grubber kick, opening the scoring with only his second touch.

The Tigers created the position with some aggressive defence but Warrington certainly gave them a helping hand with some sloppy attacking play.

Austin gave his side hope with a break only to be thwarted by full-back Jordan Rankin and, to compound his misery, he hurt his knee in the tackle.

Former Castleford hooker Daryl Clark looked to have reached the line five minutes later but video official Ben Thaler over-ruled match referee Chris Kendall in disallowing the try and the visitors finished the first half on top, albeit only with a 6-0 lead.

Austin limped on to half-time but failed to appear for the second half - but his replacement Jake Mamo, who slotted in at full-back to enable Ratchford to move into a playmaking role, instantly gave his side renewed hope by scoring within two minutes of the restart.

The position was created by Ben Currie's successful charge-down of Peter Mata'utia's attempted clearance kick and Mamo finished decisively at the corner.

Ratchford levelled the scores with a touchline conversion but the home side fell behind once more when Rankin sliced through their left-sided defence for the Tigers' second try and Mata'utia kicked his second goal.

The reintroduction of in-form prop Liam Watts for the last quarter enabled Castleford to strengthen their grip on the contest. He lost the ball in a strong surge for the line and earned a penalty that Mata'utia kicked to open up an eight-point lead.

Wolves captain Chris Hill grabbed a lifeline for his side on 69 minutes when he touched down Daryl Clark's stabbed kick to the line and Ratchford's second goal cut the gap to two points.

Ratchford had a chance to tie the scores for a second time but his ambitious penalty from halfway fell short of the target as the Yorkshiremen hung on for a memorable victory.

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