It was a threadbare Castleford Tigers who travelled to a windswept DW Stadium to take on a Wigan Warriors side who are still looking to get their season underway in what has, so far, been a very disappointing 2019.
A win for the home side would lift them to eighth in the table and the Tigers would make a similar one place gain, to third spot, of they could get the two points.
It was the third game in just over a week for these two sides, and with two injury hit squads and poor playing conditions neither side will have been looking forward to the game. Would Wigan let a twenty point lead slip, as they did when the two sides met in Castleford three weeks ago.
The Tigers dominated the opening minutes of the encounter but it was Wigan who came closest to opening the scoring when Zak Hardaker touched down a George Williams grubber on fifteen but the referee and video referee ruled a knock-on in goal.
It was already clear that this was unlikely to be a high scoring encounter.
The first points actually came on twenty-five from the boot of Peter Mata’utia and he kicked a twenty-five metre penalty to edge his side ahead.
Sean O’Loughlin’s hands in at the tackle on Dan Smith gifted a second Mata’utia penalty goal on thirty-eight, the Tigers taking a 4-0 lead into the interval.
In the pouring rain Wigan registered the first try of the game on fifty-three when Sam Powell backed his way over the line with a scoot from acting half back to twist over the line and get the ball on the ground. Zak Hardaker added the conversion and edged his side into a 6-4 lead.
Wigan should have sealed the win on seventy three after the broke downfield but a final Burgess pass was knocked on by Williams with the line begging.
Thomas Leuluai was helped off the field on seventy-six after going down difficultly in the tackle but the change in play-makers didn’t effect the Warriors for the remainder of the game and they steered their way to the final hooter and an important 6-4 victory.
It was a hard fought encounter in terrible conditions with defences bossing the game and little opportunity for expansive play as both sides were dogged by mistakes and dropped balls. Wigan keep their hopes of a play-off position alive and Daryl Powell will wonder what might have been if he’d had a full squad to pick from.
Warriors: Hardaker (G), Marshall, Hankinson, Gildart, Burgess, Williams, Shorrocks, Flower, Leuluai, Bullock, Isa, Greenwood, Partington. Subs: O’Loughlin, Tautai, Powell (T), Smithies.
Tigers: Mata’utia (2G), Clare, Minikin, Egodo, Eden, Aston, Trueman, Watts, McShane, Maher, Clarkson, McMeeken, Massey. Subs: Milner, Clark, Peachey, Smith.
Referee: Chris Kendall.