Castleford Tigers blew their big chance to win the Super League Leaders’ Shield when they produced a poor display to lose 28-6 at Catalan Dragons.
Daryl Powell’s men found it hard going from first minute to last and will have to settle for a fourth place finish.
They will now go to St Helens in the play-offs next Friday and will get a second bite of the cherry if they lose as a result of their
first-ever top four finish in the Super League.
Castleford never really got going in the first half and only good defence enabled them to stay in the game at just 10-0 down.
Precious little happened in a tight opening with three successive drop-outs forced by the hosts and the Tigers pushed back.
They saw out the pressure well and survived one scare when Michael Oldfield knocked a high kick back and Ben Pomeroy kicked on only to
knock the ball out of James Clare’s hands to have a try ruled out by the video referee.
Kirk Dixon went close at the other end when knocking on over the line jumping high to try to get to a Marc Sneyd kick.
The deadlock was finally broken on 29 minutes and it was Catalan who came up with a big score as Morgan Escare backed up Vincent Duport’s
break to race in for a try converted by Thomas Bosc.
Cas continued to struggle to get themselves into attacking positions with their forwards for once not being able to make much headway and
it was the Dragons who scored again with the final play of the half.
Daryl Millard managed to get an offload away near the line and Escare dived over for a well taken try that was not converted with Bosc
hitting the post with his kick.
The Tigers looked to have more sharpness initially in the second half only to suffer a body blow when Sneyd’s pass was intercepted by
Pomeroy, who immediately launched a counter attack finished by Zeb Taia.
Bosc’s goal made it 16-0, but Cas hit straight back after getting the ball back from the restart, moving the ball well for Luke Dorn and
Oliver Holmes to combine to send Dixon over for a try goaled by Sneyd.
When Dorn then knocked-on in his own half from the first set following the restart it summed up the Tigers’ day and it was hard work again
from this point.
The error count rocketed from both teams with the humid conditions and fast first half taking its toll. But after Pomeroy dropped the ball
over the line trying to ground it the hosts did score again when Ian Henderson went over from acting half and Bosc’s goal made it 22-6.
Cas remained under pressure and Elliott Whitehead brushed off Sneyd to go over for another try goaled by Bosc.
That proved the final score of the game, although it needed a great effort from Holmes to chase back to foil Duport with a superb tackle.
Cas never looked like hitting back in the closing stages and they looked tired as the game petered out to its sad conclusion for Tigers
Scorers - Catalan: Tries Escare 2, Taia, Henderson, Whitehead; goals Bosc 4. Castleford: Try Dixon; goal Sneyd.
Catalan Dragons: Escaré; Oldfield, Pomeroy, Duport, Millard; Bosc, Williams; Elima, Henderson, Anderson, Taia, Whitehead, Baitieri. Subs:
Lima, Maria, Pelissier, Garcia. Subs: Lima, Maria, Pelissier, Garcia.
Castleford Tigers: Dorn; Dixon, Webster, Shenton, Clare; Sneyd, Finn, Lynch, Clark, Jewitt, Holmes, Hauraki, Massey. Subs: Huby, Millington,
Referee: Ben Thaler.