Agar purrs after Wildcats hold off Tigers fightback

Castleford 26 Wakefield 32

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The Independent Online

The Wakefield coach, Richard Agar, was delighted with his team's staying power as they held on for victory in the first match of Super League's Magic Weekend in Manchester.

Agar had been scathing of his team after they conceded 30 points without reply in the second half of their previous game, at home to Warrington, but he was full of praise after they held off a spirited Tigers fightback in energy-sapping conditions.

Castleford thought they had snatched the points in a dramatic finish when the substitute forward Nathan Massey went over three minutes from the end, but the try was disallowed by the video referee,James Child, for offside. The Wakefield scrum-half, Tim Smith, clinched the points with his second try for the club.

"It's a great way to start the weekend's festivities," said Agar. "There was only a score in it and there was some high drama at the end. It wouldn't surprise me if there were a lot of high-scoring games this weekend, looking at the track and if the weather stays like this.

"I think in conditions like this, a little bit of football goes out of the window and it becomes very attritional. The pleasing thing for me is that we've been under the cosh but we've managed to defend our line when it matters most. We were a bit worried if that try had been allowed how we might have come back from it but it was rightly ruled out."

Agar was delighted with Smith's match-winning score but even more pleased with a whole-hearted effort from the hooker Paul Aiton.

"Smithy's a smart player," he said. "Sometimes it's hard as a half-back when your team is lacking a bit of go-forward and momentum. But he came up with big play for us when it reallymattered. We were genuinely concerned that we might run out of interchanges. Some of our guys were really struggling but Paul Aiton has played 80 minutes and I thought, given the conditions, his size and what came his way today, it was one of toughest displays I've ever seen."

Castleford were aiming for redemption after their Super League-record 70-12 defeat at Hull KR, after which they issued a public apology.

Their coach, Ian Millward, said: "I thought our pack of forwards was outstanding. Unfortunately our outside backs couldn't complement them. I really feel for our forwards today, they put in a really good shift.

"There were too many one-on-one tries. Sometimes you'd like to call time out and put [the backs] all in the forwards and let them see what it's like to play there.

"I'm glad we got back on the horse today but that improvement should have been enough to win a game. I'd rather be winning than talking about our improvement."

Castleford Owen; Youngquest, Thompson, Dixon, Williams; Chase, Orr; Jackson, Jones, Huby, Ferres, Holmes, Mitchell. Substitutes used Walker, Milner, Millington, Massey.

Wakefield Mathers; Fox, Collis, Mellars, Cockayne; Sykes, Smith; Amor, Aiton, Raleigh, Mariano, Kirmond, Washbrook. Substitutes used Wood, Lauitiiti, Southern, James.

Referee R Hicks (Oldham).