Castleford teenager Jason Qareqare scored his first try for the Tigers within a minute of the game starting last Thursday, having learned that he would be playing by phone when he was in a maths class at his school in York, and returning to the classroom on Friday.
So impressive was that debut that coach Daryl Powell named him in the line-up for a repeat performance against Wakefield at the Mobile Rocket Stadium tonight, though from the bench.
The hosts had their own hopeful story with the return of England winger Tom Johnstone from a two-month injury lay-off, as they hoped to continue the Tigers’ recent trail of woe when it came to results.
After an early mistake by Cas, when Jordan Turner couldn’t take in a pass and turned the ball over in the first set on their own 20m, the game settled into a set-for-set wrestle for the next 10 minutes.
Then Danny Richardson kicked a 40-20 for the Tigers and set up a full attacking set in the Trinity half – but the chance was wasted and a lost ball was swooped on by Trinity.
A penalty got them downfield and a break by former Cas youth Joe Westerman saw them tease the Castleford defence and before giving a penalty away for obstruction when they looked threatening in the visitors’ 10m zone.
With both teams committed to moving the ball, there was plenty of opportunities arising from loose ball, but it was when Paul McShane got his hands on the ball on the Wakefield line and stabbed a grubber through the Trinity defence for George Griffin to ground and Richardson to convert.
The visitors led 0-6 with 20 minutes played.
But Wakefield hit back immediately with a flowing break and forced a drop out when Michael Shenton couldn’t take a Crossfield kick and put the ball into touch-in-goal. Jacob Miller dived over in the resulting set and Mason Lino’s conversion evened up the score just four minutes later.
Swapped handing errors in the Trinity red zone occupied the next few minutes, with no score.
But then a scintillating break against the Wakefield sliding defence by Peter Mata’uita the right centre pass the ball to left winger Jordan Turner who crossed in the corner.
Richardson couldn’t covert from the sideline and the visitors led 6-10.
But that was immediately followed by bad news as half-back Gareth O’Brien was forced off with a knee injury. Though that did bring Qareqare onto the field.
With less than half a minute to go, Bill Tupou joined the injury list for Wakefield with a leg injury requiring on-field treatment before being stretchered off.
That was the half’s last meaningful action and the teams went to the sheds at ahlf time with the game balanced at 6-10.
Wakefield applied plenty of early pressure after the restart, but it was Cas who came closes to scoring when Derrel Olpherts grounded the ball – but with his foot in touch. But Shenton made no mistake minutes later when when Max Jowett couldn’t hold a Richardson grubber and the Cas centre pounced to touch down the ball over the line. Richardson couldn’t convert from the touchline and the Tigers now led by eight points at 6-14
They stretched that lead when a rolling move from left to right saw Turner run before passing the ball for Mata’utia to burrow over on the right. Richardson kick went across the face of the goal and the score was now 6-18.
But Trinity started pressuring the Tigers defence, and with just over 10 minutes to go Miller and Lino combined again when Miller got his second try grounding a Lino kick, and Lino then added his second conversion. The gap now stood at 12-18.
With five minutes to go Cas tried for a drop goal to stretch the gap to two scores, but Kyle Wood blocked the kick and Wakefield marched downfield to force a goal-line drop out. But their own attack ended with a pass to touch.
It was the visitors’ turn to march upfield and though no score came of it they turned the ball over within metres of the Wakefield line with less than 10 seconds to go.
When the hooter went, Castleford got the two points they desperately needed and stretched their unbeaten six-year, 14 game unbeaten run in the derby to another victory over the neighbours.
Full Time: 12-18 Half Time: 6-10
Wakefield: Jowett, Kershaw, Lyne, Tupou, Johnstone, Miller (2T), Lino 2(G), Tanginoa, Walker, Arona, Pitts, Ashurst, Westerman. Subs: Fifita, Wood, Battye, Arundel.
Castleford: Evalds, Turner (T), Shenton (T), Mata’utia (T), Opherts, O’Brien, Richardson (G), Griffin (T), McShane, Matagi, Holmes, Sene-Lefao, Massey. Subs: Watts, Foster, Smith, Qareqare.
Referee: Liam Moore
Score progression: 0-4, 0-6, 4-6, 6-6, 6-10. Half Time. 6-14, 6-18, 12-18