Two teams only separated in the league table by points difference rounded off an exciting Thursday evening in Super League round thirteen. Castleford Tigers and the Huddersfield Giants are both retaining hopes of a top four finish but knew that a win tonight would mean they finish the weekend in sixth, still some way from that elusive top four.
The Tigers were slight favourites with the bookies but with the Giants only getting a two-point start on the coupon the win was anyone’s. It was a matter of which side wanted it the most. Tigers coach Powell made seven changes to his side from last time out, but interim Giants coach Robinson made just one change on the bench.
A fabulous offload from Mike McMeeken found Gareth O’Brien to run forty metres and score under the H to get the scoreboard ticking in Castleford’s favour. O’Brien added the conversion for a 6-0 lead.
Greg Eden got the second Tigers try on eleven as he somehow managed to get the ball on the ground while airborne and under the tackle from Ashton Golding. O’Brien was unable to add the touchline conversion.
The Giants turned defence into attack on seventeen with Jermaine McGillvary taking a long miss-out pass from Aidan Sezer to cross unopposed and round to improve the angle. Sezer added the conversion from wide for 6-10, the Giants right back in a game where they had been second best.
Four minutes later and the Giants were level, Jake Wardle bouncing off a couple of tacklers and then spinning over the line to score in the shadow of the sticks and give Sezer a simple conversion to edge his side into a two-point lead.
After a Chris McQueen interference at the play the ball, O’Brien took the opportunity to kick a twenty-metre penalty to level the scores and a minute later he put over a thirty metre drop goal to give his side a 13-12 lead at the break.
It was a stunning start to the second half for the Tigers who scored a try out of nowhere following a las tackle kick on their own forty. Eden collected a miss-kick and went forty metres before finding Mike McMeeken who then passed out to Jack Sanderson who rounded to score on his debut. O’Brien was unable to add the conversion from wide, the Tigers five points ahead.
On fifty-one a clumsy Giants tackle gave O’Neill the chance to take the lead out to seven points which he gladly accepted from thirty-five metres out.
A fifty metre break by Jake Wardle took the Giants downfield and three plays later the ball was moved right with McGillvary crossing on the overlap for his second of the night. Sezer added a touchline conversion, brushing the near post as it passed over the crossbar. The margin back to that O’Brien drop goal before the interval.
A Sezer drop goal from twenty metres, after he brilliantly managed to compose himself after an awful lay-back pass from McGillvary, levelled the scores at 19-19 with twelve minutes left on the clock. The Giants were on the front foot, and with the scores now level they were the favourites.
Within a minute the Giants were back in the lead when Sezer juggled an inside pass and went ten metres to score. He converted his own for 25-19 with ten minutes left to play.
Sezer missed an attempted drop goal on seventy-four which would have established a seven-point margin.
The points were sealed on seventy-nine after McGillvary leapt to take a Sezer cross-field kick and drop to the floor under the Sene-Lefao tackle to complete his hat-trick. Sezer added the extras after the final hooter for a 31-19 win.
It had been the game of the day for excitement with the Giants experiencing every emotion before taking the points from a Castleford Tigers side who will now struggle to make the top four. The Giants, steered by the masterful Aidan Sezer keep their hopes alive but know that they still have an uphill task.
Castleford Tigers: Clare, Sanderson (T), Blair, Shenton, Eden (T), O’Brien (T, 3G, DG), Turner, Watts, McShane, Griffin, Sene-Lefao, McMeeken, Massey. Subs: Millington, O’Neill, Hepi, Fleming.
Huddersfield Giants: Golding, McGillvary (3T), Cudjoe, Wardle (T), McIntosh, Turner, Sezer (T, 5G, DG), Wilson, Holmes, Matagi, Edwards, McQueen, Lawrence. Subs: Russell, Wood, Trout, Gavet.
Referee: Liam Moore.
Half Time: 12-12.
Full Time: 19-31.
Venue: Halliwell Jones, Warrington.