Castleford maintained their challenge for the Super League play-offs with a battling 18-8 victory over Catalans Dragons at the Jungle.
The win enabled the Tigers to stay in front of form team Leeds and close the gap on the fourth-placed Catalans to four points with four games left of the regular season.
Skipper Paul McShane led the way in his makeshift role of half-back in the absence of an injured Danny Richardson while his partner Gareth O’Brien crucially kicked five goals from as many attempts.
The French club, who had spent the week in West Yorkshire following their win over Wakefield five days earlier, rallied after trailing 14-0 and tries either side of half-time from Sam Tomkins and Joe Chan got them back in contention but Tomkins was unable to add either conversion.
The Catalans were without record-breaking winger Fouad Yaha due to compassionate leave but were boosted by the return of prop Dylan Napa from a five-match suspension as well as Tomkins, Dean Whare and Mitchell Pearce from injury.
The visitors carved out the first scoring opportunity through second rower Chan and the Tigers were grateful for a last-ditch tackle from McShane to haul him down short of the line.
Castleford were more clinical when they created an opening, scrum-half O’Brien dummying his way past Tomkins for the first try after 11 minutes.
O’Brien kicked the conversion and added a penalty for offside midway through the first half to extend his side’s lead to 8-0.
That quickly became 14-0 when the Tigers pounced on a handling error from Napa on his own 20-metre line with full-back Greg Eden slicing through for their second try.
The introduction of big front rower Sam Kasiano injected fresh purpose into the Catalans attack and he looked set to score after taking hooker Michael McIlorum’s pass close to the line only to spill the ball.
The Dragons eventually did pull a try back two minutes before the interval when Tomkins found a chink in the home defence but he was wide with the conversion.
HT: Castleford 14-4 Catalans
The England captain was also off target when the dangerous Chan forced his way over for the Catalans’ second try five minutes into the second half, after Pearce’s pass had created the opening.
O’Brien put two scores between the sides with another penalty on the hour but the Catalans threw caution to the wind in the final quarter with substitute Arthur Mourgue and Whare both coming up with threatening runs on either flank.
The home side defended heroically in the face on the constant onslaught and, when Kasiano was held up over the line, it signalled the end of the Dragons’ hopes and O’Brien wrapped up the scoring with his third penalty.
Winger Bureta Faraimo went close to scoring a third Castleford try in the last minute when he swooped on a loose ball but he was denied by Tomkins’ last-ditch tackle and the home side finished with 12 men when prop Suaia Matagi was sin-binned for an off-the-ball tackle.
FT: Castleford 18-8 Catalans
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