Heroic Castleford knock holders out of cup

Kirk Dixon.
Kirk Dixon.

Castleford Tigers can look forward to a Tetley’s Challenge Cup semi-final after a heroic effort saw them knock out holders Wigan Warriors 16-4.

Ironically it was Wigan lad Lee Jewitt who put the seal on a fantastic victory for the Tigers with the deciding try two minutes from the end of a gruelling high intensity test.

It was tight with the result in the balance until the closing stages, but there was no doubt that Daryl Powell’s men - all superb to a man - deservedly march on in the cup.

Castleford were good value for their 6-0 lead at the break and should have been further in front after dominating most of the half.

In the wet conditions it was difficult for both sides as they had to rein in their natural attacking game, but the Tigers had most of the territory and it was only a combination of bad luck and bad decisions that kept the score low.

They were first unlucky when Marc Sneyd’s high kick was dropped by Joe Burgess only for the ball to go dead after accidentally hitting the following up Kirk Dixon.

A minute later it was Sneyd’s turn to curse his fortune as he followed up his own kick, which was knocked down by Wigan full-back Matthew Bowen, but dropped the ball in trying to get over the line. Unbelievable video referee Ben Thaler ruled it a charge down by Bowen and not a knock-on and the opportunity was lost.

Dixon was almost in on 18 minutes, but chose to pass inside for Weller Hauraki and the ball was knocked down by the hosts to their relief again as no knock-on was given.

Luke Dorn did get over the line on 28 minutes, but had his effort controversially ruled out by Thaler for obstruction in the build-up.

Two minutes later there was no denying Cas, however, as winger James Clare touched down in the corner. Again there was a hint of obstruction, but the try was awarded and Sneyd added the conversion.

It was still all Cas and in the last minute of the half the superb Andy Lynch had the ball taken from him inches short of the line.

If the first half had belonged to Cas the second half saw much more of Wigan in attack and early on they missed a chance when Joe Burgess dropped the ball with the line looking open.

The Tigers then wasted a glorious opportunity when Dorn made a superb break only for his pass inside to be knocked on by Michael Shenton to Sneyd with hardly a home player in sight.

The next 20 minutes was all about dogged Tigers defence as Wigan turned up the heat and had several back to back sets.

The Cas players showed how much they wanted it, however, as a succession of heroic tackles kept the hosts out.

Sean O’Loughlin lost the ball over the line after being held up, Anthony Gelling was denied inches short by Clare and the young Tigers winger also made a great catch under pressure.

Oliver Holmes produced another fantastic save when he chased back to haul down George Williams.

The defence finally cracked as Williams sent Liam Farrell over. Wigan stayed behind, however, with Matty Smith unable to add the touchline conversion.

Any thoughts of a big finish from the Warriors were then crushed on 69 minutes when Cas came up with a special play that saw the ball moved wide where Jake Webster gave one of the offloads of the season to set Dixon racing clear for a massive try.

With Sneyd unable to add the goal there were still six points in it and Sneyd then missed a drop-goal attempt to keep the result in the balance.

But with two minutes left Jewitt sent a dummy to open up a gap after taking the ball at acting half and gleefully went over for the try everyone knew was the clincher. A fantastic finish to a fantastic performance by Castleford.

Scorers - Wigan: Try Farrell. Castleford: Tries Clare, Dixon, Jewitt; goals Sneyd 2.

Wigan: Bowen; Manfredi, Sarginson, Gelling, Burgess; Williams, Smith; Flower, McIlorum, Dudson, Farrell, Bateman, O’Loughlin. Subs: Hughes, Crosby, Hampshire, Sutton.

Castleford: Dorn; Dixon, Shenton, Webster, Clare; Sneyd, Finn; Lynch, Clark, Huby, Holmes, Hauraki, Jewitt. Subs: Millington, Mariano, Wheeldon, Ellis.

Referee: Richard Silverwood.

Half-time: 0-6.

Attendance: 8,736.