Castleford produced another stirring display of their title credentials as they enhanced their position at the top of Super League with victory over Wigan.
It has been all too easy to fawn over the attacking prowess of Daryl Powell’s side in these opening weeks of the season but here it was their defensive mettle which laid the platform for another victory, their seventh in eight games.
“It’s the kind of win not associated with Castleford sides in the past,” Powell said. “It’s our best win of the season because of the nature of it.”
This was billed as a clash of the early title favourites several weeks ago but a dip in Wigan’s form – coupled with injuries to almost a dozen players – ensured Castleford went into the match as heavy favourites and they did not disappoint.
“It wasn’t good enough,” said Shaun Wane, whose Wigan side are now without a win in four matches. “We didn’t deserve it; we didn’t deserve to get close to them. They’ve hardly any injuries and they’re flying.”
The Tigers did not resemble league leaders early on, with plenty of handling errors but they withstood the pressure Wigan placed on their line with some fine defensive work.
And that bore fruit as half time approached, as the Tigers raced into a 14-0 lead. They went ahead when the half-back, Ben Roberts, produced a deft pass to send Jake Webster over before Jesse Sene-Lefao’s quick offload sent Zak Hardaker downfield, with the full-back providing the final pass for Luke Gale to cross. Gale later converted a penalty to open up a commanding lead.
Wigan, to their credit, rallied and gave themselves hope when the full-back Morgan Escaré darted over from close range to narrow the gap to eight at the break. However, Sene-Lefao once again turned the momentum of the contest after half-time with a superb individual try – although the defending from Wigan in the buildup was suspect.
The Warriors would continue to fight – despite looking out of sorts in attack –but the Tigers’ defensive efforts proved far too strong. Many will highlight the points Castleford seemingly score at will on occasions as the greatest indicator of their strength this season but in reality it is defensive efforts such as this which will see them go far in 2017.
Wigan Escaré; Davies, Forsyth, Isa, Marshall; Williams, Leuluai; Nuuausala, Powell, Flower, Tomkins, Farrell, Sutton. Interchange Clubb, Tautai, Gregson, Bretherton.
Castleford Hardaker; Monaghan, Webster, Minikin, Eden; Roberts, Gale; Massey, McShane, Cook, Holmes, McMeeken, Milner. Interchange Sene-Lefao, Moors, Springer, Chase.
Referee R Hicks.