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Round 3: Cas squeeze past Dragons
Castleford enjoyed their first taste of success on their return to the engage Super League, overcoming Catalans Dragons 34-28 in a gripping encounter at the Jungle.
Having suffered the pain of relegation at the end of the 2004 season, Castleford have found life hard since their return to the top flight, suffering heavy defeats at the hands of both Hull and St Helens.
However this win, their first Super League victory since the September 11 2004, offers coach Terry Matterson hope they can avoid the relegation trapdoor this time around, although they will need to learn how to close a game out if they are to achieve that goal.
After leading 26-10 at one stage in the second half, the Tigers slipped to being 28-26 behind, before Michael Shenton?s 74th-minute charge to the line finally secured the points.
Matterson?s cause was helped considerably by the loss of Stacey Jones, the Catalans? playmaker, to a broken arm in their defeat at Salford last weekend.
After looking void of any creativity for almost an hour, the visitors eventually clicked into gear and produced a devastating spell of rugby, reminiscent of their opening weekend win over Wigan.
Vital to the Tigers victory were centre Gray Viane and stand-off Ryan McGoldrick.
The former has been impeccable since arriving from Widnes and increased his tally of tries this season to six with a hat-trick, whilst the latter produced an all-round performance that justified why Castleford fought so hard to secure his release from Wests Tigers.
Having been left out of the side so far this campaign, it was Waine Pryce, one of just three survivors from the class of 2004, who opened the scoring in the third minute with his first touch of the season.
His 60-metre burst to the line and Craig Huby?s subsequent goal built the platform for what followed.
Catalans fought back with interest but were all too guilty of trying to force an extra pass and they were made to pay on 13 minutes when the impressive Danny Sculthorpe found Viane in space on the left-hand side, the centre making no mistake in finding the line.
Having been rejected by St Helens and relegated at Widnes, Viane is now showing his full potential.
His try, backed up by a brace after the break, leaves him second on the embryonic try scorers chart.
It appeared a walkover might be on the cards when McGoldrick fed Huby to open a 16-0 lead, more so when Mark Hughes was sent to the sin-bin for holding Ben Roarty.
Jamil Fakir made light of the full-back?s absence though to barge over from close range and open the visitors? account.
Castleford hit back with an effort from Richard Fletcher, again set up by Huby, although Thomas Bosc?s scramble touchdown brought the scores closer together at the interval, Castleford leading 22-10.
Viane opened the second period with his second try, grounding Sculthorpe?s deft kick to the corner, although when Chris Beattie plundered a further French response following on from a sin-binning for Pryce, a fightback looked likely.
With just 20 minutes remaining, the prospect looked all the more ominous, when Renaud Guigue capitalised on Andy Kain?s failure to deal with Sean Rudder?s high kick to score to the left of the posts.
Luarent Frayssinous kept his cool to reduce the arrears to 26-22 with the conversion.
The visitors then produced what had previously seemed unthinkable by taking the lead on 63 minutes, when John Wilson collected Hughes? pass to crash over in the corner.
Frayssinous then kicked his fourth conversion to draw a chorus of boos from the home crowd as Castleford bordered on throwing away all their early hard work.
But the crowd of 5825 need not have worried for too long, as first Shenton collected a pass from Roarty to score in the right hand corner, and then Viane rounded things off with the last touch of the game.
Castleford: Platt, Pryce, Viane, Shenton, Dyer, McGoldrick, Kain, Sculthorpe, Henderson, Nutley, Fletcher, Huby, Roarty.
Replacements: Mason, Bird, Haughey, Handforth.
Catalans Dragons: Hughes, Murphy, Wilson, Guigue, Verges, Rudder, Frayssinous, Beattie, Rinaldi, Fellous, Fakir, Guisset, Hindmarsh.
Replacements: Bosc, Chan, Touxagas, Mounis.
Castleford (22) 34.
Tries: Pryce, Viane 3, Huby, Fletcher, Shenton. Goals: Huby 2, Kain.
Catalans Dragons (10) 28.
Tries: Fakir, Bosc, Beattie, Guigue, Wilson. Goals: Frayssinous 4.
Referee: S Ganson (St Helens)