Castleford Tigers came from 12-4 down to beat Huddersfield Giants 44-12 and keep the pressure on for a second place finish in the Betfred Super League.
Daryl Powell’s men were in cracking form ahead of the play-offs as they earned revenge for the recent home defeat by the Giants in the regular season, scoring eight tries to two.
The visitors looked sharp early on and defended well in the first half, but were blown away in the last 20 minutes.
An entertaining first half that was not without its controversies, mistakes and some outstanding attacking play ended with Cas 16-12 up.
It was Huddersfield who started the sharper and were awarded a highly dodgy first try in the second minute.
Adam O’Brien darted to the line and tried to get the ball down in a pile of bodies. Referee Ben Thaler signalled try and video referee Phil Bentham backed him up despite none of the countless replays showing that the ball was ever grounded over the line.
A good argument for the current video referee system it was not, but the upshot was a try and Danny Brough’s goal put the visitors 6-0 ahead.
The Tigers response was great and after a strong set they put their first points on the board as they ran the ball on the last tackle and Paul McShane’s final pass sent Greg Eden diving over.
McShane, on kicking duties with Luke Gale and Jamie Ellis both missing, was unable to add the conversion from wide out.
Another good move down the left swiftly followed before Michael Shenton lost the ball trying to get a pass away under pressure close to the line.
The fast start continued as Huddersfield came close to a second try. Jake Wardle broke down the left and passed out to winger Innes Senior who looked set to score only for a brilliant tap tackle by James Clare to deny him.
Jake Webster was held up over the line with Thaler this time not asking the video referee to have a look. In the same set Liam Watts was held on the line on the last tackle.
On 20 minutes the Giants were back on the attack and scoring as Lee Gaskell shrugged off two tacklers to burst through for a try goaled by Brough.
Cas then turned up the heat as Ben Roberts’ kick forced a drop-out and Jake Webster dived over for a try following a superb offload by Mike McMeeken.
More pressure followed, backed by several home penalties. Two Roberts kicks forced further drop-outs and Watts was held up over the line.
It looked like the Giants defence had cracked when Junior Moors barged over from close range. The ball came loose and Jake Mamo raced away for what he thought was a try for Huddersfield only to be brought back as the referee signalled a try for Cas.
The video referee ruled no try, but the Tigers were given a penalty for a ball steal and from the next set there was no stopping Moors this time as he powerfully got the ball down for a try converted by McShane to make it 16-12.
Huddersfield had the better of the start to the second half with Jordan Turner held up over the line and good defence needed by Clare to prevent Senior from getting in down the visitors’ left
But the Tigers then took control, gradually turning the screw with clever kicks by Trueman keeping the Giants penned in on their own line.
The crucial try came on 58 minutes when Peter Mata’utia’s long pass gave Clare a chance to attack the Giants line and he grabbed it with a strong finish. McShane added the touchline goal and the hosts had breathing space with a 10-point lead.
McMeeken added to the advantage with a spin in the tackle and another powerful finish with McShane again goaling.
Trueman’s grubber led to another goal-line drop-out and the Giants defence cracked again as Moors took Grant Millington’s offload to power over..
McShane again converted and three minutes later he was on target from the touchline after Mata’utia had completed a good handling move from a scrum for yet another score.
There was still time for one more try as Millington showed determination to score his first of the season, diving on Trueman’s well judged grubber kick over the line.
The soon to be departing Webster had a go at goal, but was unsuccessful, leaving the final score at 44-12 and a job well done by the impressive Tigers, who were tested before they produced their irresistible rugby.
Scorers - Castleford: Tries Eden, Webster, Moors 2, Clare, McMeeken, Mata’utia, Millington; goals McShane 6. Huddersfield: Tries O’Brien, Gaskell; goals Brough 2.
Castleford Tigers: Mata’utia; Clare, Webster, Shenton, Eden; Roberts, Trueman; Watts, McShane, Millington, Moors, McMeeken, Massey. Subs: Minikin, Milner, Sene-Lefao, Clark.
Huddersfield Giants: Rankin; Mamo, Turner, Wardle, Senior; Gaskell, Brough; Lawrence, O’Brien, Matagi, Ta’ai, Roberts, Hinchcliffe. Subs: Leeming, Clough, Smith, English.
Referee: Ben Thaler