Danny Orr made a winning start as Castleford Tigers’ temporary head coach when he inspired his team to come from behind to beat Widnes Vikings 28-26 at the Wish Communications Stadium.
Orr, who took up the role this week following the departure of Ian Millward, was forced to field a weakened side without five first teamers and saw the Tigers throw away a 12-0 lead to be trailing 26-16 at the break.
But Cas toughened up in the second half and did not conceded a single point while scoring two tries themselves to end their run of seven straight defeats and climb off the bottom of the Super League.
Castleford had started well as they shot into a 12-0 in the first 11 minutes with young winger James Clare getting on the end of a Rangi Chase kick to go over from long range for a well taken try and Richard Owen touching down in the corner from Jordan Tansey’s long pass.
But four tries in 13 minutes for Widnes turned the game on its head as alarming gaps appeared in the Tigers defence and Paddy Flynn, Rhys Hanbury, Jon Clarke, Cameron Phelps all helped themselves to scores and Patrick Ah Van kicked three goals.
Back came Cas through Owen following another long pass out wide, this time by Chase, but it was the Vikings who had the last say in a wide open first half when Ah Van crossed in the corner to make it 26-16 at the break.
It was much tighter game in the second half with both defences improving and even got a little feisty before the Tigers scored their fourth try, Jordan Thompson forcing his way over after taking Tansey’s pass. Ellis’s goal reduced their deficit to four points.
Cas then came up with what proved to be the winning try 13 minutes from time when Chase’s brilliant pass set Tansey racing clear and he found support from Adam Milner, whose spectacular dive over the line showed how much he enjoyed scoring. With Ellis adding the conversion the Tigers were 28-26 up and they held on in a nervy finish.
Widnes had a chance to tie the scores in the final minute when Owen was controversially ruled to have made a high tackle, but Ah Van put his kick from wide out wide of the posts and it was relief all round at a win at last for Castleford.
Scorers - Castleford: Clare, Owen 2, Thompson, Milner; goals Ellis 4. Widnes: Tries Flynn, Hanbury, Clarke, Phelps, Ah Van; goals Ah Van 3.
Castleford: Tansey; Clare, Shenton, Thompson, Owen; Chase, Ellis; Mason, Milner, Huby, Holmes, Hauraki, Massey. Subs: Martin, Walker, Clark, Boyle.
Widnes: Hanbury; Flynn, Dean, Phelps, Ah Van; Brown, Mellor; O’Carroll, Clarke, Pickersgill, Winterstein, Leuluai, Gerrard. Subs: Kavanagh, Joseph, Lawton, White.
Referee: Richard Silverwood.