By THOMAS McCOOEY
A MUCH-improved Castleford performance from last week’s 70-12 defeat to Hull K.R. was not enough to snatch the result against Wakefield in the first Magic Weekend encounter.
After keeping Wakefield to within one score, Castelford coach Ian Millward oozed frustration, saying frankly: “I’d rather be winning than talking about improvement.”
Millward felt Castleford’s outside backs let his forwards down and said he’d like to show his backs what it’s like to play in the forwards.
He continued: “I thought our pack of forwards were outstanding today. I thought they were the best pack of forwards there. Unfortunately our outside backs couldn’t complement us in attack and defence. I really feel for our forwards today – I thought they put in a really good shift.”
It was Castleford who scored first, inside the first minute as Jordan Thompson easily slipped through some slack Wakefield defence but they soon got to grips with the pace of a frantic game – though their own defence left much to be desired as the sides racked up more than a point per minute between them in the first half.
The second period slowed considerably and Richard Agar put it down to the conditions.
“It wouldn’t surprise me if there were a lot of high scoring games this weekend looking at the track and if the weather’s like this,” he noted.
“It noticeably slowed-up. The conditions played a part and the closeness of the game played a part in what both teams were doing with the ball pretty much until the final ten.
“In conditions like this a little bit of football goes out of the window and it becomes attritional.”
Tim Smith pulled out a stunning play in the closing minutes in what turned-out to be the winning play after a post-final hooter penalty to Castleford returned nothing and Agar was generally happy with his display bar some fine points.
“He came up with a couple of big plays – not all of them good ones but he made up for it when it mattered most. He’s a smart player and sometimes as a halfback it’s hard when your team’s lacking a little go forward and momentum. It was difficult for him to try and create that today but he came up with a big play when it really mattered for us.”
With the game seemingly won, Ben Cockayne tried to create a spectacular finish by racing the length of the field after coming up with a loose ball. The video referee ended up awarding a penalty to Castleford and although it didn’t matter, Agar would’ve preferred the game to have been put to bed sooner:
“We kept it interesting didn’t we? Even to the death,” he said. “I was a bit disappointed at the end – if Benny Cockayne kicks the ball over the touchline instead of trying to keep the fans entertained and score a length of the field try, that’s it. They somehow managed to find a way to make us defend our line again. I don’t think we had too much luck on video calls today.”
WAKEFIELD 32 (V Mellars R Mathers S Southern D Washbrook P Fox T Smith tries P Sykes 4 goals) bt CASTLEFORD 26 (J Thompson S Jones N Youngquest O Holmes D Orr tries K Dixon 2 Orr goals) at Etihad Stadium. Referee: J Child.
Final team lists:
CASTLEFORD: Richard Owen; Nick Youngquest, Jordan Thompson, Kirk Dixon, Rhys Williams; Rangi Chase, Danny Orr; Lee Mitchell, Oliver Holmes, Brett Ferres, Craig Huby, Stuart Jones, Paul Jackson Res: Jonathan Walker, Adam Milner, Grant Millington, Nathan Massey
WAKEFIELD: Richard Mathers; Peter Fox, Dean Collis, Vince Mellars, Ben Cockayne, Paul Sykes; Tim Smith, Danny Washbrook; Danny Kirmond, Frankie Mariano, Andy Raleigh, Paul Aiton, Kyle Amor. Res: Kyle Wood, Steve Southern, Matt James, Ali Lauititi
Halftime: Wakefield 24-16