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Today's televised Friday night match – Huddersfield v Castleford at the former's John Smith's Stadium spent much of the day in doubt. With heavy snow sweeping across the north of England, fans woke to warnings that the game might not take place as neither club nor stadium officials could reach the  ground.

The M62 over the Pennines - which Sky's outside broadcast team needed to cross after last night's Wigan v Catalans tussle - was blocked and littered with abandoned vehicles. Fans were warned not to set off until there was an official announcement that the match was on, but that came well into the afternoon.

The visiting Tigers had started the week with rugby-centred disruption as the club announced that coach Lee Radford had left the club just three weeks into his second season, and was being replaced on a temporary basis by Andy Last, the assistant coach who had been brought to the club by Radford when he joined last year.

The visitors arrived tonight still seeking their first points of 2023.

The Giants had first use of the ball and ended the opening set with an attacking kick into the Tigers' in-goal, before Castleford speedster Jason Qareqare raced back to knock the ball dead - at the cost of a repeat set for the hosts.

On top of the disruption leading up the the match, the visitors were missing full-back Niall Evalds and influential hooker and captain Paul McShane.

It was his replacement George Lawler who opened the scoring with nine minutes played, grounding the ball next to the left post and making Gareth Widdop's conversion a formality for a 0-6 lead.

The Tigers were playing loose and fluent, looking like they might well benefit from the much talked about coach change bounce. But that didn't last. Minutes later, their defence opened a gap to invite Chris McQueen to cross next to the posts, which he happily did. Ollie Russell converted to level the scores at 6-6.

With almost 25 minutes played, Russell nudged the Giants into the lead with a penalty when Cas were caught offside at a play-the-ball.

With the half-hour approaching, the interchange came into the frame as players went to the sideline for treatment. Will Pryce darted over the line after collecting a wide pass from a scrum which followed a Tigers knock-on in their own 20m.

Russell made no mistake converting the try, and the score stood at 14-6. Minutes later, the video ref was called into action when Pryce kicked through and Jake raced onto the ball to collect cleanly and ground for another four points. This time, though Olly Russell couldn't convert.

But when Kenny Edwards was penalised for a high tackle minutes later. to no-one's surprise, Russell made the kick from in front of the posts. The hooter sounded before play could restart from the penalty, with the half-time score at 20-6.

McQueen got the second half scoring under way striding in after the home team dominated the opening five minutes, running clear out on the right wing. But he was too far out for Russell to convert the opportunity.

Three minutes later the video ref was called in again when a mazy run by Pryce saw him cross the line but lose the ball as he went to ground it under the tackled.

But the Fartowners' next score came predictably with just 10 minutes of the half gone: Leroy Cudjoe broke down the left had touchline and then delicately kicked infield when faced with a lone Castleford defender in front of him.

Lolohea pickedup the ball and passed it to Marsters, who dashed over to keep the scoreboard moving, aided by another conversion from Russell.

Marsters returned the favour on 64 minutes, moving the ball to Cudjoe to run clear and score on the left. Russell couldn't convert, kicking the ball across the face of the goal for a 34-6 score.

The hosts continued to dominate their visitors who consistently fumbled both possession and tackles until the match ended with a last-minute penalty to the team in claret and gold. Russell made no mistake from in front of the sticks and Huddersfield recorded a a 30-point winning margin at 36-6.

For the opening five minutes the Tigers looked like they had recovered the fluency of two or three years ago and opened  the scoring, but that proved to be a false dawn as they fell apart and continued the lack of of form which has been their hallmark of 2023 so far.

The Giants had dominated all but the opening five minutes, but the win came at a price with Theo Fages and Joe Greenwood lost from the match in the first half.

Huddersfield Giants:  Lolohea (T), Golding, Bibby (T), Marsters, Cudjoe (T), Russell (4G, 2P), Fages, Hill, Peats, Wilson, Jones, McQueen (2T), Yates. Substitutes: Greenwood, Ashworth, English, Pryce (T). 18th Man: Livett.

Castleford Tigers: Broadbent; Qareqare, Sutcliffe, Fonua, Eden; Widdop (G), Milla, Matagi, Lawler (T), Massey, Edwards, Mellor Westerman. Substitutes: Milner, Mustapha, D Smith, Watts. 18th Man: Vetes.

Full Time: 36-6.

Half Time: 20-6.

Score progression: 0-4, 0-6, 4-6 6-6, 8-6, 12-6, 14-6, 18-6, 20-6. HT. 24-6, 28-6, 30-6, 34-6, 36-6 : FT.

Lead Exchanges: Castleford - Square - Huddersfield.

Referee: Tom Grant.

Venue: John Smith's Stadium, Huddersfield. 



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Posted by tb on Fri 10th Mar 2023 10:04 PM | Views : 6089 | Replies : 0 | BACK TO STORIES