Castleford Tigers bounced back to their best form as they kept up their record of running in more than 40 points in every home game this season in a 54-4 thrashing of world champions Wigan Warriors.
The Warriors were not helped by suffering injuries doing the game, but they were blown away by a Tigers team in the kind of rampant form that saw them thrash Leeds Rhinos in similar style earlier in the season.
Daryl Powell’s men ran in nine tries in a scintillating display that showed exactly why they have been top of the table for most of the year and still remain there.
After slow starts in some of their recent games the Tigers were on fire at the beginning of this game and ahead within 50 seconds.
They moved the ball expansively deep in their own half, Michael Shenton got free down the left and passed inside to Luke Gale, who was taken down just short of the line. From the resulting play-the-ball Adam Milner forced his way over from close range and Gale added the goal.
Greg Minikin defended a dangerous high kick at the other end before Cas were on the attack again with Greg Eden unlucky not to be able to take a high kick aimed to the left wing.
They crossed for their second try on eight minutes, however, as Shenton dived over on the left following a great set which featured a strong Zak Hardaker break.
Gale again added the goal and popped a penalty between the sticks to make it 14-0.
Only an obstruction decision given by referee Robert Hicks prevented Eden from adding to his tally as Super League’s top try scorer while Ben Flower went close for Wigan when held up over the line.
The Warriors’ first spell of pressure followed although they were down to 12 men for 10 minutes after Frank Nuuausala was sin-binned for dissent after conceding the penalty from which Gale kicked the goal.
Liam Marshall dived over in the corner only to put a foot in touch on the way. A drop-out was forced from the next set and from that the visitors got on the scoreboard with Sam Powell charging over for a try that went unconverted by Morgan Escare.
Cas came straight back after a Wigan error in their own half and Matt Cook did well to force his way over from close range after looking to have been held up.
The Tigers then scored a superb try when Mike McMeeken produced a shimmy and showed great pace to charge over following a move that saw the ball kept alive in great style.
Gale’s fifth goal made it 26-4 and that was how it stayed to half-time, although Gale was unlucky with a long range drop-goal in the last seconds when the ball hit the crossbar.
Wigan were hampered by injuries to George Williams and Ben Flower in the second half, but they were still chasing shadows for much of the rest of the game.
There was no let up from Cas, although they were unlucky when Gale and McShane combined well and the former was the subject of a high shot by Escare in the act of scoring.
Bizarrely no try was given and no penalty try, but the Tigers had a penalty and Escare was walking to the sin-bin after getting a yellow card.
From the next set the Tigers did put more points on the board as Rangi Chase’s long pass over to the right wing sent Minikin over in the corner.
Soon after Gale did have his try as he completed a lovely runaround with Grant Millington and he added the conversion.
Within two minutes another try followed, Millington this time backing up McShane’s break to score after the hooker had seen his kick half charged down. Gale’s goal made it 42-4 and Cas had passed the 40-point mark for the sixth time in a row at home.
Taulima Tautai was held up over the line as Wigan had a brief respite, but brief it was as within two minutes the Tigers were attacking again and a swift handling move ended with McMeeken sending Jake Webster charging for the line. Gale added the touchline goal to rub in his side’s advantage.
The game went into a bit of a lull in the last quarter with the result all over, but Cas did manage one more score when McMeeken made an initial break, Hardaker followed it on well and found Minikin who raced over in the corner. McShane took over the kicking duties and landed a touchline conversion to complete the scoring on another memorable night at the Mend-A-Hose Jungle.
Scorers - Castleford Tigers: Tries Milner, Shenton, Cook, McMeeken, Minikin 2, Gale, Millington, Webster; goals Gale 8, McShane. Wigan: Try Powell.
Castleford Tigers: Hardaker; Minikin, Webster, Shenton, Eden; Roberts, Gale; Millington, McShane, Massey, Sene-Lefao, McMeeken, Milner. Subs: Chase, Moors, Cook, Monaghan.
Wigan Warriors: Escare; Davies, Gelling, Burgess, Marshall; Williams, Powell; Nuuausala, McIlorum, Flower, J Tomkins, Farrell, O’Loughlin. Subs: Tautai, Sutton, Isa, Ganson.
Referee: Robert Hicks.