Castleford Tigers survived a huge Wakefield Trinity comeback to return to winning ways and lift the Adam Watene Trophy at a tense Mend-A-Hose Jungle.
There was little sign of the drama to come as Daryl Powell’s men sailed into a 22-0 lead in the first 24 minutes and led by 20 points with just 25 minutes left.
But Trinity threw everything at them in the closing stages and in the end came close to winning, only losing 28-26.
Cas dominated much of the first half with strong defence in their opponents’ half and some strong attacking play.
They were under pressure early as Peter Mata’utia’s kick-off went out on the full. But they survived with keen defence driving Matty Ashurst into touch.
Early attacking sets came to nothing, but Cory Aston - given a chance at half-back - put in a dangerous high kick that was well defended by Wakefield’s returning winger, Mason Caton-Brown.
Jake Trueman’s high kick brought dividends in the 11th minute, however, as Caton-Brown spilled the ball and James Clare pounced for the opening try to which Mata’utia added a touchline conversion.
Cas quickly added a second try when props Liam Watts and Jesse Sene-Lefao combined well near the line for the latter to reach out to score another try converted by Mata’utia.
The try came at a cost, though, with Sene-Lefao going off with a suspected dislocated shoulder.
From the restart, however, Aston made a brilliant break to set the Tigers up in good field position. Mike McMeeken then came up with a great offload and Greg Minikin sent Clare over for his second try.
Super League debutant Aston became try scorer soon when he backed up well to take Daniel Smith’s offload following good work initially by Watts. With Mata’utia goaling it was 22-0 after 24 minutes.
The rest of the half was not so impressive from the Tigers, although Greg Eden came within a whisker of another score as he just put his foot on the touchline in trying to squeeze over in the corner.
Wakefield looked fortunate not to concede a penalty when McMeeken lost the ball in a tackle on his own line and from the resulting set started with a scrum they took full advantage to score their first try, Caton-Brown diving over impressively in the corner after taking Max Jowitt’s pass.
It stayed 22-4 to half-time with Mata’utia surprisingly missing two penalty kicks that were much easier than the initial conversion he had earlier landed.
Cas started the second half in strong fashion with Mata’utia and Trueman kicks forcing goalline drop-outs. The pressure told as Minikin finished strongly for a try after taking Mata’utia’s pass.
Trinity regained possession from a short restart and almost hit back straight away when Ben Reynolds tried to ground the ball under pressure from several tacklers. It was deemed a no try by the video referee, but the next play did bring a score as Caton-Brown took Ryan Hampshire’s high kick to go over.
Craig Kopczak was held up over the line on the next Wakefield attack and it was game on now.
Mata’utia eased home nerves 15 minutes into the half with a penalty to stretch the lead to 28-8.
But Trinity kept on coming. David Fifita - who was generally handled well by the Tigers - was tackled just short on a last tackle play before Joe Arundel scored against his former club, finishing strongly down Castleford’s problem right side. Hampshire added a goal from wide out.
Kyle Wood was held up over the line on the next set, but relief was only temporary for the hosts as Reynolds backed up a break by Jowitt to race in for a try goaled by Hampshire.
More pressure followed with Keegan Hirst held up over the line before Reynolds’ high kick was knocked down and Tiniroa Arona collected to go over for yet another Wakefield score. With Hampshire converting from the touchline it was now 28-26 and a big finish was ensured.
Trinity had one more chance when Ben Jones-Bishop went for the corner, but to the relief of the home fans he was dragged in touch and Cas saw out the closing stages well enough to collect a precious two points against their local rivals.
Scorers - Castleford: Tries Clare 2, Sene-Lefao, Aston, Minikin; goals Mata’utia 4. Wakefield: Tries Caton-Brown 2, Arundel, Reynolds, Arona; goals Hampshire 3.
Castleford Tigers: Mata’utia; Clare, Minikin, Shenton, Eden; Trueman, Aston; Watts, Milner, Sene-Lefao, Holmes, McMeeken, Massey. Subs: Moors, Clark, O’Neill, Smith.
Wakefield Trinity: Jowitt; Jones-Bishop, Lyne, Arundel, Caton-Brown; Reynolds, Hampshire; Fifita, Wood, Arona, Ashurst, Kirmond, Crowther. Subs: Pauli Pauli, Kopczak, King, Hirst.
Referee: Chris Kendall.