Castleford Tigers dropped out of the top four in the First Utility Super League after their much changed side suffered a 48-10 defeat at Warrington Wolves.
The result did not tell the full tale as Daryl Powell’s men - including youngsters Ben Reynolds and debutants Brad Day and Will Maher - were competitive for the first hour and put in a big effort despite the close proximity of the Wembley cup final before running out of gas in the final quarter.
The luck seemed right against them from the start and they were not helped by a few big refereeing decisions going against them, but Warrington showed their class in the end and always looked the sharper side, eventually going over for eight tries.
Castleford started well and dominated the first 20 minutes yet the scoreboard did not show it.
They had three straight sets in the first five minutes as they forced the hosts back from the start and were incredibly unlucky not to open the scoring.
First when youngster Ben Reynolds was stopped inches short of the line then when Scott Wheeldon touched the ball down over the line only to be denied by the video referee after Liam Finn’s high kick was lost in the air by Stefan Ratchford, but maybe touched Frankie Mariano before hitting the ground.
From the next set Warrington marched down field and did open the scoring when Ryan Atkins took advantage of a wicked bounce off Gareth O’Brien’s kick that was misjudged by Reynolds. Chris Bridge’s conversion made it 6-0.
Cas responded and again forced a spell of pressure with two Finn kicks and some good chasing forcing drop-outs.
But once more completely against the run of play Michael Monaghan made a smart break from half-way and O’Brien backed up to score a try converted by Bridge.
When Bridge went over from close range on 22 minutes and converted again it looked like a rout was about to follow, but the Tigers kept their heads for the remainder of the half, showing commendable spirit.
Another Finn kick forced a drop-out and Cas got some points on the board at last as James Clare finished superbly in the corner after collecting a fine long pass out wide by Jamie Ellis.
Finn was given the goal kicking job for the first time in a Cas shirt, but was unable to add the conversion from the touchline.
There were no more scores for the rest of the half, but Cas were unlucky again when Mariano made a terrific long range break only to be held up over the line.
A big Cas comeback looked on six minutes into the second half when Oliver Holmes produced a strong finish to get the ball down over the line with four Wolves players unable to stop him.
Finn’s conversion made it 18-10, but soon after it was Finn’s error when he knocked on in his own half that led to what proved the gamebreaker for the hosts. Rhys Evans went over in the corner and Stefan Ratchford’s kick put 14 points between the team again.
Five minutes later former Cas junior Anthony England powered over for another try from Mickey Higham’s pass and Ratchford’s goal made it 30-10.
Jamie Ellis forced a drop-out as the Tigers kept battling, but it was one-way traffic in the last 15 minutes as the Wolves ran in three more tries.
Ratchford, Joel Monaghan and Evans again all crossed the line and Ratchford added three more conversions to complete the big win for his side who went above Cas in the table with this success.
Scorers - Warrington: Tries Atkins, O’Brien, Bridge, Evans 2, England, Ratchford, J Monaghan; goals Bridge 3, Ratchford 5. Castleford: Tries Clare, Holmes; goal Finn.
Warrington: Russell; Evans, Bridge, Atkins, J Monaghan; Ratchford, O’Brien; Hill, M Monaghan, Harrison, Waterhouse, Westwood, Grix. Subs: Higham, Wood, England, Laithwaite.
Castleford: Reynolds; Tansey, Channing, Gibson, Clare; Ellis, Finn, Lynch, Milner, Wheeldon, Mariano, Hauraki, Jewitt. Subs: Massey, Holmes, Day, Maher.
Referee: James Child.