Castleford crushed

Castleford 14 Hunter Mariners 42
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Castleford, who put up one of Britain's more respectable displays in the first round of the Visa World Club Championship, took several steps backwards with a shoddy show against Australians who hardly had to extend themselves. Led by Robbie Ross and Noel Goldthorpe, Hunter were far too good for opponents unrecognisable from their determined efforts against Perth last Sunday.

The Mariners had the better of an error-strewn first half, always looking likely to break the Castleford defence if they could only hang on to the ball for long enough. Their winger John Carlaw had three inviting chances in the opening minutes, but could accept none of them. Instead Castleford took an early lead when their Australian second rower, Andrew Schick, did well to hold on to an awkward pass from Brendon Tuuta to go over.

Castleford's failure to clear their lines at the end of a set of six tackles soon had them under pressure. They succumbed when Scott Hill and Ross linked neatly for Goldthorpe to score a try which he converted himself.

Goldthorpe sent the former Wigan forward, Tony Iro, through some weak tackling for the second try and Castleford could only manage a penalty from Ian Tonks before Hunter crossed again through Hill, who had been placed on reports for a tackle which had seen Jason Flowers stretchered off.

The Castleford coach, Stuart Raper, could be heard telling his players this was their worst performance since he arrived and it would have been hard for them to argue. A more ruthless side than Hunter would have been out of sight by this stage, but they began to exact further punishment when a long run by Ross stretched Castleford's defence for Troy Stone to touch down.

Then Willie Poching's run and one-handed pass set up Ross for a try of his own. Carlaw finally got the try he had threatened from the start, thanks to Ross's run and Castleford's woefully unconnected tackling.

The home side did get a second try, from Chris Smith, when Adrian Vowles' high kick ran loose, but Carlaw claimed his second from Hill's kick, before Mike Ford gained a little more consolation for Cas. Hunter were firmly in exhibition mode by this time, but Ross rounded it off by stretching over for their eighth try in the last minutes.

Castleford: Flowers, Roach, Lidden, Chapman, Smith, Vowles, Ford, Sampson, Russell, Crooks, Schick, Tonks, Tuuta. Substitutes used: Sykes, Orr, Goddard, Gay.

Hunter Mariners: Ross, Thompson, Godden, K Iro, Carlaw, Hill, Goldthorpe, Maddison, Kimmmorley, Stone, T Iro, Marquet, Poching. Substitutes used: Brann, Doherty, Piccinelli. Substitute not used: Beauchamp.

Referee: S Cummings (Widnes).

n Leeds Rhinos were outclassed 34-8 by the Adelaide Rams in Australia yesterday, despite scoring a try through Ryan Sheridan in the second minute. The Leeds substitute Terry Newton was sent off in the 63rd minute for an alleged spear tackle.