Castleford Tigers let a half-time lead slip as the Rangi Chase comeback game fell flat with a disappointing defeat to Warrington Wolves at the Mend-A-Hose Jungle.
Hopes of a win to keep their top four hopes alive looked good as they led early and were deservedly ahead at half-time, but 20 unanswered points in 12 second half minutes saw them blown away.
Despite the final 42-26 score this was never a one-sided game with the Tigers having two efforts disallowed by referee Chris Kendall in the second half.
Defeat was also hard on winger Denny Solomona, who crossed for four tries while it summed up the Tigers’ day that their usually reliable goalkicker Luke Gale missed five out of six conversion attempts and hit the post twice.
Cas started well and after a Gale high kick was almost taken by Ben Crooks they were awarded a penalty as the home centre was adjudged to have been tackled in the air.
From the next set Junior Moors’ short pass gave Frankie Mariano a chance to attack the line and he finished strongly for his second try in two games back in the team.
Luke Gale miskicked the conversion attempt in windy conditions and went on to miss three of four shots at goal in the opening half, denying the Tigers a bigger interval lead their attacking play deserved.
Warrington soon had their first score on the board as they moved the ball quickly to their right and with a dummy centre Rhys Evans was clear. He then shrugged off an attempted tackle by Luke Dorn to score a try that also went unconverted.
The visitors struck again on 11 minutes when Evans showed his pace once more, racing 90 metres for a try after intercepting Gale’s pass. Kurt Gidley’s conversion made it 10-4.
The Tigers still looked dangerous in attack and were rewarded with their second try as a great pass by Dorn sent Solomona over for his first try of the afternoon. Gale’s touchline conversion hit the post to keep the Wolves ahead.
Rangi Chase came off the bench for his first game back at Cas and was met by a huge roar. He struggled to impose himself on the game in the first half, but the Tigers scored again when Gale and Dorn combined well to give Solomona space to go over for his second try. Gale this time goaled to make it 14-10.
Another great move almost brought another try from the next set, but it was Warrington who scored next as Stefan Ratchford raced over following a suspiciously forward looking pass off a Cas drop-out. Gidley’s goal put them, ahead.
The Wolves looked set to score again just before half-time only for Solomona to position himself well to catch a Chris Sandow kick to the corner and promptly then race the length of the field for another spectacular try to complete a 17-minute hat-trick..
Cas started the second half well enough with Gale taken down only inches short and Ryan Hampshire almost getting to a Chase grubber kick that bounced up dangerously.
But slack defence allowed Brad Dwyer to score from a close range tap penalty to put the visitors back ahead.
The Tigers thought they had regained the advantage soon after when Mariano raced through a gap only to look round and see referee Chris Kendall had signalled a controversial obstruction decision.
That proved the game’s major turning point as within five minutes Warrington had opened up a 36-18 lead. Sandow kicked a penalty then made a great break to send Ben Currie over and Toby King backed up breaks by former Cas duo Daryl Clark and Joe Westerman for another try.
Cas had another score chalked off in another controversial decision as Junior Moors’ pass to Hampshire was ruled forward and once more it was compounded when the visitors struck again through their former Tigers hero Clark who danced his way over from 25 metres out.
To Castleford’s credit they kept going to the finish and scored two tries in the last nine minutes. Solomona latched onto McShane’s grubber kick to go over in the left corner and Crooks took Chase’s high kick to the other corner for a final consolation effort.
It was all over by then and the Tigers go into the final weekend of the regular season in seventh place,
Scorers - Castleford: Tries Mariano, Solomona 4, Crooks; goal Gale. Warrington: Tries Evans 2, Ratchford, Dwyer, Currie, King, Clark; goals Gidley 3, Sandow 4.
Castleford Tigers: Dorn; Hampshire, Crooks, Minikin, Solomona; McShane, Gale; Tickle, Milner, Patrick. O Holmes, Mariano, Moors. Subs: Millington, Chase, Cook, Springer.
Warrington: Ratchford; Russell, Evans, Atkins, Lineham; Gidley, Sandow; Hill, Clark, Sims, Currie, Hughes, Westerman. Subs: King, Dwyer, Westwood, Bailey.
Referee: Chris Kendall.