The Huddersfield Giants had second place on their mind as they travelled the short distance to Castleford to take on a Tigers side who were looking to move into fifth place, but the Giants would be wary in the knowledge that the Tigers took the scalp of the Dragons last time out.
There were numerous changes to both sides, Paul McShane notably on the bench for the Tigers where he is usually in the starting thirteen. The Giants had new loan signing Toby King in their side and Owen Trout in the front row.
The home side were given a two-point start in the coupon, the visitor’s slight favourites for the win.
After a great start from Huddersfield, it was the Tigers who opened the scoring. A Giants pass to ground with Jake Trueman collecting the loose ball and breaking through the defensive line before finding Derrell Olpherts to go in. Danny Richardson added the conversion for a 6-0 Tigers lead.
Castleford doubled their lead on thirteen with a sensational weaving Trueman try as he broke from inside his own half and danced through past the defenders to sprint to the line. Richardson was on target again for 12-0, the Giants stunned.
A Richardson 40-20 gained the Tigers position and three plays into the set the Giants were given offside, Richardson kicking the penalty goal to further extend the lead.
With the clock showing thirty minutes, a Trueman pass hit the fingers of Jermaine McGillvary into the hands of Olpherts who stretched for the line to ground. Richardson added the extras, against all the pundits’ expectations the Tigers had a 20-0 lead, and fully deserved it.
Six minutes before the interval the Giants opened their account when McGillvary collected a pinpoint Tui Lolohea kick to the corner and managed to stay in field under the tackle to ground one-handed by the corner flag. Will Pryce added the conversion from the touchline, smashing the ball between the uprights, the Giants trailing by fourteen at the break.
Five minutes after the restart a terrific passage of play saw Castleford keeping the ball alive through multiple pairs of hands before Kenny Edwards found Jake Mamo who rounded his opposite number to score. Richardson missed his first conversion attempt of the evening.
Sebastine Ikahihifo was held up over the line on fifty as the Giants looked to claw their way back into the game but despite also being awarded a penalty the Giants couldn´t get over for the try and when a Richardson penalty on fifty-four further extended the Tigers lead, the Giants needed four converted tries.
The Tigers were down to twelve for the remainder of the game when Paul McShane was yellow carded for a dangerous tackle on seventy-one.
Chris McQueen grabbed a late consolation to push the Giants into double figures as he broke the line twenty out and showed a good turn of pace to go in. Pryce added the extras for 26-12.
With just over a minute on the clock Pryce took a Luke Yates pass to get the third Giants try and added the conversion himself to reduce the arrears to eight points at the final hooter.
Kenny Edwards was shown a yellow card for slowing the play the ball with seconds remaining but it mattered not as the final hooter sounded on a Tigers win.
This was a reality check for the visitors, the Giants first defeat since April but a third consecutive victory for the Tigers which lifts them higher into the play-off positions as they look to give themselves a chance of making the Grand Final. The Giants set off well and controlled the early play but as soon as they conceded the first try of the game they never looked like they would get anything out of it against a clinical Castleford who seem to be improving with every game.
Castleford Tigers: Eden, Olpherts (2T), Fonua, Mamo (T), Faraimo, Trueman (T), Richardson (5G), Griffin, Milner, Massey, Edwards (SB on 79), Mellor, Westerman. Subs: McShane (SB on 71), Lawler, Smith, Matagi.
Huddersfield Giants: Lolohea, McGillvary (T), Cudjoe, King, Senior I, Russell, Pryce (T, 3G), Wilson Levi, Trout, Jones, McQueen (T), Yates. Subs: Lawrence, Greenwood, Ikahihifo, Golding.
Score Progression: 4-0, 6-0, 10-0, 12-0, 14-0, 18-0, 20-0, 20-4, 20-6 : HT : 24-6, 26-6, (SB), 26-10, 26-12, 26-16. 26-18, (SB) : FT.
Lead Exchanges: Castleford.
Referee: Jack Smith.