Despite putting up a brave and spirited performance, Wakefield slipped to defeat at the hands of local rivals Castleford Tigers by 40 -20 in the opening round of Super League at the Millennium Stadium, Cardiff.
Castleford were the team to get the first points on the board in a closely fought first half which was heavily disrupted by penalties. Centre Joe Arundel touched down in the corner after just five minutes to put the Tigers 4-0 up with Kirk Dixon missing the resulting conversion.
The Wildcats showed good spirit and responded well to going behind. Hooker Julien Rinaldi forced his way through the Tigers defence to touch down over the whitewash and level the scores up at 4-4. Wildcats debutant Josh Veivers missed the conversion.
A scrappy first half that was filled with penalties, saw Castleford’s Joe Arundel sin binned after 24 minutes for holding down.
Wakefield took full advantage of the Tigers being down to 12 men. Paul Johnson went over the line for the Wildcats, but the Tigers defence didn’t allow him to get the ball down. From the resulting play of the ball, Wakefield showed good movement stringing a number of passes together and causing the 12 men of Castleford problems. Castleford consequently gave away back to back penalties and Dale Ferguson took full advantage by touching down for the Wildcats. Veivers converted the kick from just outside the posts to put the Wildcats in the lead by 10-4.
Castleford came straight back at Wakefield. Aaron Murphy gave away a penalty deep inside the Castleford half and from the resulting penalty, the Tigers gained good field position. Slick passing and an excellent offload from Rangi Chase drew in the Wildcats defence and allowed ex Wakefield man Brett Ferres to go over in the corner. Dixon missed the conversion to take the Tigers back within two points.
Castleford took the lead on 34 minutes with a try from winger Nick Youngquest. After clever build up, the Castleford attack sucked in the Wildcats defence and left a gap on the wing for Youngquest to touch down and secure the four points. With an unsuccessful conversion the Tigers led by 12 points to 10.
The Tigers continued to attack from the kick off, however referee James Child stopped play when he judged Wildcats hooker Sam Obst to have tackled without the ball and sent him to the sin bin, leaving both sides with 12 men each. Castleford took full advantage from the penalty with Michael Widders fighting through a number of Wakefield defenders to get the ball down over the whitewash. Dixon converted the try giving the Tigers an 18-10 lead at half time.
Castleford started the second half on top and extended their lead even further within a minute of the restart. Rangi Chase intercepted a Tommy Lee pass and went in for the Tigers under the sticks. Dixon converted the try giving Castleford a 24-10 lead.
Castleford continued to dominate and scored again through youngster Adam Milner. After good build up play, Milner headed for the line and was granted the try by video referee Steve Ganson after what appeared to be a clear double movement. Dixon was unsuccessful with the conversion leaving the score at 28-10.
Halfback Sam Obst returned to the game after his stint in the sin bin and the Wildcats showed good spirit to get back into the game. Dale Ferguson scored his second try of the match, after being set up by Julien Rinaldi after 58 minutes, taking the Wildcats to back within 14 points.
The comeback was well and truly back on for Wakefield when Luke George ran the length of the pitch to touch down. With Veivers converting the try, the Wildcats were back within eight points, with the scores at 28-20. The momentum seemed to be with Wakefield, until referee James Child controversially sent centre Daryl Millard to the sin bin for holding down in the tackle.
Castleford took advantage of having an extra man for the second time in the game and finished the stronger of the two teams. Two tries in the last ten minutes from Jackson and Widders secured victory for the Tigers, the final score being 40-20.
There were plenty of positives for Wildcats Head Coach John Kear to take out of the game as the team travel to Catalans next week.