Warrington Wolves returned to winning ways after a strong second half saw them record a 38-14 victory over Castleford Tigers at the Halliwell Jones Stadium.
Castleford were dealt an early blow. Peter Mata’utia got injured in the warmup, forcing Daryl Powell into a reshuffle. Jesse Sene-Lefao took Mata’utia’s place in the centre, Brad Martin came into the second row and Leiws Bienik came up to the bench.
Despite the late change, it was the Tigers who struck first. Man of Steel Paul McShane broke down the middle and gave it to the supporting Jake Trueman to score by the posts. Danny Richardson scored the conversion to open up a six-point advantage.
Warrington were able to hit back on the 10-minute mark. Quick hands saw them work the ball out wide, and Josh Charnley was able to run down the touchline and score. Stefan Ratchford missed the conversion, meaning they still trailed by two points.
Just four minutes later, the Wire claimed their second try. Ratchford got a short ball off to Toby King, who was able to spin his way over. Ratchford scored the touchline conversion to edge Warrington ahead by four.
It did not take long for Castleford to respond. Warrington knocked on from the kick off, and then their goal line dropout didn’t go 10 metres. From the resulting field position, the Tigers worked it left and Jordan Turner was able to score in the corner. Richardson pulled the conversion wide, meaning the scores were level at 10 apiece.
It was Warrington who struck next just a few minutes later. Gareth Widdop collected the ball, and went across the line, before finding a gap to go over. Ratchford was off-target with the conversion attempt, meaning their lead stood at four points.
The hosts extended that lead just past the half-hour. Ratchford kicked two more points after a high tackle.
It was a tight start to the second half. Warrington thought they had extended their lead through Charnley but the pass to him was called forward.
However, just a few minutes later, Ratchford managed to offload inside for Widdop to score under the posts. Ratchford then converted.
It was soon two tries in four minutes for the hosts. Blake Austin broke clear down the middle and fed Widdop to score his hat-trick. Ratchford added the conversion.
Wire then made it three tries in eight minutes. Ben Currie dropped a short ball off for Toby King, who spun his way out of a tackle to go over. Ratchford was off-target with the conversion attempt.
There was time for another Warrington try before the end. Daryl Clark went himself from dummy half and managed to get the ball down. Ratchford scored the conversion.
However, the final word would go to Castleford. Trueman collected a high kick and worked the ball out wide to Turner, who scored his second in the corner. Richardson missed the conversion.
The two sides face each other again at Leigh in two weeks’ time in the Challenge Cup semi-finals.
Warrington Wolves: Stefan Ratchford, Josh Thewlis, Jake Mamo, Toby King, Josh Charnley, Blake Austin, Gareth Widdop, Chris Hill,Daryl Clark, Mike Cooper, Ben Currie, Jack Hughes, Joe Philbin.
Subs: Jason Clark, Robbie Mulhern, Matty Davis, Rob Butler.
Head Coach: Steve Price.
Castleford Tigers: James Clare, Derrell Olpherts, Jesse Sene-Lefao, Michael Shenton, Jordan Turner, Jake Trueman, Danny Richardson, Nathan Massey, Paul McShane, Daniel Smith, George Griffin, Brad Martin, Adam Milner.
Subs: Tyla Hepi, Suaia Matagi, Lewis Peachey, Lewis Bienik.
Head Coach: Daryl Powell.