Castleford win to tighten grip on play-off spot

Castleford 34 Bradford 30

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The Independent Online

Castleford shrugged off their heavy workload for a win over Bradford that could prove vital to their chances of hanging on to a place in the play-offs.

The Tigers were at the end of a gruelling run of three games in nine days, but far from weakening in the second half, as might reasonably have been expected, they outlasted Bradford to rack up 16 unanswered points and win the game. The key man in both attack and defence was the veteran Danny Orr, who recently signed a new deal to keep him at the club next year.

"We signed Danny to take us around the park, but his defence has been really solid as well," Cas's assistant coach Andy Hay said.

With a starting line-up showing six changes from their unwanted midweek commitment at Wigan, Castleford still did not look exactly refreshed in the opening stages. Within five minutes, they were 12 points down, with the Bulls' Australian pair, Marc Herbert and Brett Kearney, largely responsible.

Herbert launched the high kick from which Kearney scored the opener and then came up with a lovely reverse pass to give him the opportunity for his second. The Castleford coach Terry Matterson's complaints about player burn-out were starting to look like a self-fulfilling prophecy, but the Tigers began to pull themselves together with an opportunist try from a loose ball by Adam Milner.

Gareth Raynor's interception from Rangi Chase led indirectly to a third Bradford try. He was initially hunted down, but was back on his wing in time to take Kearney's cut-out pass and touch down.

Some lovely footwork from Joe Arundel brought a try in reply and Cas drew level when Chase capitalised on Milner's initial break, but a long spell of Bradford pressure saw them ahead again at the end of 40 minutes of try-trading, thanks to Shad Royston taking Olivier Elima's lay-off.

Bradford seemed to be on their way to victory when Ben Jeffries and Kearney combined for Paul Sykes to go over and make it a 12-point lead. Instead, Cas defied the lead in their limbs to score three tries and win the game.

Rob Parker took Orr's short pass for a try on his home debut and then a ball from Ryan McGoldrick put Arundel in for the second. The Tigers finally hit the front for the first time when Orr was again the provider for Stuart Jones.

Cas's determined tackling in the time remaining was an equally important factor, with Orr and Jones coming up with two of the best efforts.

"They were very resilient and we just weren't good enough," said the Bulls' coach Mick Potter, who reluctantly agreed it will now be terribly difficult for his team to make the play-offs.

"After the week we've had it was a great effort by the guys who were out there," Hay said. As though proving Hay's point, Matterson was too tired to talk, while Hay has put his name forward as a potential successor now that Matterson has made the decision to leave at the end of the season.

Castleford McGoldrick; Youngquest, Dixon, Arundel, Owen; Chase, Orr; Jackson, Milner, Parker, Ferres, Jones, Hudson. Substitutes used Massey, Thompson, Widders, Davies.

Bradford Kearney; Ah Van, Sykes, Whitehead, Raynor; Jeffries, Herbert; Lynch, Diskin, Burgess, Elima, Langley, Hargreaves. Substitutes used Addy, Royston, Kopczak, Scruton.

Referee R Silverwood (Mirfield).