Defence stands up as unbeaten Castleford Tigers nil Widnes

Greg Minikin: Two tries against Widnes Vikings.
Greg Minikin: Two tries against Widnes Vikings.

Castleford Tigers continued their superb start to the new season as they produced a strong defensive display to back up their attacking prowess in a 34-0 victory away at Widnes Vikings.

Daryl Powell’s men had plenty of defending to do, particularly in the opening quarter, but did it well to achieve a rare nil on their hosts.

After no scores in a competitive first 20 minutes the Tigers took charge with four tries in 15 minutes to open up a 22-0 half-time lead and they did not loosen their grip on the game after the break.

The breakthrough came when impressive back row forward Mike McMeeken produced a terrific offload and Greg Minikin, playing at centre with Jake Webster rested on the famous Widnes pitch, charged over for a try goaled by Luke Gale.

Only good defence prevented Greg Eden adding to the lead almost straight away as he was forced into touch by Corey Thompson.

But there was no stopping Minikin for his second try on 29 minutes after the ball was moved wide following a great break by Ben Roberts, recently on as a replacement after his return from injury. Gale added the goal from wide out and it was 12-0.

Skipper Shenton was next to dash over for his 100th career try in Super League after the Widnes restart had gone out on the full to hand possession straight back to the now rampant Tigers. Gale kicked his third goal.

On 36 minutes Shenton turned try maker as his pass was collected well by Eden who raced in for another try. Gale hit the post with the touchline conversion attempt, but Cas were 22 points to the good at half-time.

The Tigers began the second half strongly only for Roberts to drop ball over the line trying to get it down. Jesse Sene-Lefao’s offload was then dropped by Hardaker and Widnes held on just.

Rain swept in as conditions deteriorated, but it did not affect the Tigers as on 50 minutes they stretched their lead with Matt Cook crossing for his first try of the season.

Gale’s easy goal made it 28-0 and brought up a career milestone for him as he passed the 1500 points mark.

Within five minutes Cas were over again as Shenton’s fantastic pass sent winger Eden over for a try converted by Gale.

Minikin went close to his hat-trick when halted just short on 61 minutes.

Widnes briefly responded, but a promising move ended when Tom Armstrong knocked on with an overlap on his outside.

Thompson saved a try for Widnes when he got his hand to Hardaker’s pass with the line looking open for Eden to get his hat-trick.

Hep Cahill was stopped near the line by strong defence as the Tigers showed their determination to keep their opponents out. Another late attack was repelled as Gale got back to knock the ball out over the back line and castleford’s shut out was complete as they made it four wins from four to stay top of the Betfred Super League.

Scorers - Castleford: Tries Minikin 2, Shenton, Eden 2, Cook; goals Gale 5.

Widnes Vikings: Hanbury; Thompson, Armstrong, Runciman, Ah Van; Bridge, Craven; Chapelhow, White, Buchanan, Houston, Whitley, Cahill. Subs: Heremaia, Leuluai, Olbison, Burke.

Castleford Tigers: Hardaker; Monaghan, Minikin, Shenton, Eden; McShane, Gale; Lynch, Milner, Springer, Sene-Lefao, McMeeken, Massey. Subs: Millington, Moors, Cook, Roberts.

Referee: Jack Smith.

Half-time: 0-22.

Attendance: 6,396.