Castleford 28-26 Wakefield: Tigers withstand valiant Trinity fightback
By Ben Grounds
Last Updated: 19/04/19 7:11am
Castleford held off a tremendous fightback to beat Wakefield 28-26 and clinch a 12th successive derby victory to get their Easter campaign off to a thrilling start.
The Tigers were in total control of Thursday night's clash as they led 26-4 early in the second half but were hit by a four-try burst in 20 minutes from the visitors.
In the end, they just held on for a 28-26 victory to move them clear in third place in the Betfred Super League.
Half-backs Cory Aston (Castleford) and Ben Reynolds (Wakefield) both marked their debuts with tries, while winger Mason Caton-Brown celebrated his return to Trinity by scoring twice.
Reynolds got his chance after Wakefield lost both regular half-backs Danny Brough and Jacob Miller to injury, while Aston made the most of his long-awaited chance by making his mark in the top flight.
The 24-year-old spent a year with Leeds without making his senior debut and, after joining the Tigers in December 2017, had to wait 16 months for his opportunity.
Aston seized it in memorable fashion by scoring one of his side's five tries, watched from the stands by proud father Mark, the Sheffield Eagles coach who nurtured him through the system at the South Yorkshire club.
Caton-Brown made an inauspicious start, failing to deal with Jake Trueman's lofted kick to present Clare with a simple first try.
Four minutes later, forward Jess Sene-Lefao took Liam Watts' short pass to crash over near the posts.
Sene-Lefao suffered a suspected dislocation in the act of scoring and played no further part in the match but, with Peter Mata'utia kicking both conversions, the Tigers were off to a flier at 12-0.
Aston then took centre stage, producing a break out of his own 20-metre area to create the position for Clare to score his second try, and then supporting a break by substitute Daniel Smith to touch down himself.
Mata'utia added his third goal to extend the lead to 22-0, and winger Greg Eden had a try disallowed before Wakefield stopped the rot through Caton-Brown, who took full-back Max Jowitt's cut-out pass to produce an acrobatic finish at the corner.
Ryan Hampshire failed with the conversion attempt and Mata'utia was off target with two penalties in the closing stages of the first half at the end of which the home side held an 18-point lead.
Centre Greg Minikin increased it to 22 points when he finished off a flowing move early in the second half, and that looked to be the end of the contest.
However, Caton-Brown grabbed his second try, leaping above Clare to regather Hampshire's kick for his second try.
After Mata'utia had finally found the target with a penalty, Wakefield added a third try through centre Joe Arundel.
This time Hampshire converted at the third attempt to make it 28-14 and the revival continued when full-back Jowitt broke through the heart of the Tigers defence to send Reynolds over for his try.
It was all Trinity at that stage, and when Castleford winger Greg Eden spilled the ball from Reynolds' crossfield kick, forward Tinirau Arona was on hand to score at the corner.
Hampshire's touchline conversion cut the deficit to two points, which is how it stayed as Wakefield paid the price for their slow start.
Man of the match - Liam Watts
Man of the match Liam Watts told Sky Sports: "Wakefield are a good side and we knew they were going to come back at us at some point.
"It was just a matter of when, so luckily we got a decent lead and it got a bit nervy those last 10 minutes, but having not done well in holding on in recent weeks, it's really pleasing we got the win.
"We couldn't hold onto the ball towards the end! We can't keep playing like that as with such small margins, it does take it out of you but a win's a win. We got there in the end.
"We'll rest up for the next couple of days. We've not got it easy this Easter."
Castleford coach Daryl Powell: "They got a bit of momentum from scoring after we put the ball down in front of the posts, and tactically they did some things that were pretty smart. Momentum is massive in rugby league, and it's really hard to stop.
"We couldn't turn the tide, and we lost two boys again. What's happening to us is interesting. Jesse's in a bit of pain while Oli Holmes has come off felling his knee so we've then got blokes playing out of position.
"But with two young halves, I thought Cory did a great job. We showed good composure to kill the game off and there were some great signs in the first half."
Wakefield coach Chris Chester: "I don't know whether Cas were that good in the first half or we were just poor.
"We had a few choice words at half time, as I just felt we had no real intent defensively, and we were a little bit soft in a few areas, certainly the contact area.
"I thought we fronted up to that in the second half, but we gave ourselves too much to do. You can't afford to do that against any team, let alone Castleford on their pitch. Giving them a 22-point start, you're never going to win games when you do that."