Davis' class takes Castleford back to top flight

Whitehaven 8 Castleford 36
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The Independent Online

He could hardly have achieved his aim more triumphantly than this, scoring two interception tries and having a hand or a foot in the four others as Castleford marched back to Super League after a one-year absence.

It was a masterclass from a player determined to leave the game with nothing but good memories. "It's on my horse and into the sunset for me," Davis said. "The club deserves to be back in Super League and that was my aim at the start of the season ­ to help them get there."

Davis' impact on the game began when Whitehaven twice conceded penalties for attacks on him, a high tackle by Aaron Lester and a late one by Leroy Joe. With Steven Ganson in charge, either player could have seen a red card, but he contented by sending Joe to the sin-bin.

During his 10 minutes' absence, Davis saw to it that Whitehaven's evening began to unravel.

First, he almost sent Michael Platt through and then got there again to supply the pass from which the substitute, Craig Huby, scored with his first touch of the ball. Then he figured twice in a confident handling move, that ended with Steve Crouch charging through at an angle to take Deon Bird's pass and score. Even with Joe back on the field, the mayhem continued, with Davis' pinpoint kick for the corner and Damien Blanch's leap producing a third try in six minutes. Castleford could see the bright lights of Super League gleaming in the distance. Seven minutes before half-time, Davis intercepted Joel Penny's pass to race through a transfixed defence.

The only sour taste for Castleford at the end of a brilliant half of rugby was Davis's complaints that he had been bitten in a tackle.

Four minutes after the break Davis scored again, this time from Spencer Miller's pass and the 5,000 Castleford fans who made the trip to Widnes were dreaming of trips to Wigan and Warrington rather than Whitehaven next season.

Davis and Platt then set up Tom Haughey, before Haven finally registered through David Seeds and Craig Calvert. By then, Castleford's place back among the élite was assured. Whether the future lies with their current coach, Dave Woods, is another matter. He admitted during the week that he did not expect to be kept on, even if he guided Castleford to promotion. "It's a matter for the board," he said. "They've got to decide who they want to do the job, but I'd love to stay."

Whitehaven's Steve McCormack, disappointed at this stage for a second year in succession, had an admission of his own. "We didn't do ourselves justice tonight," he said. There are plenty of rumours that he might now be on the move, with Widnes the likely bidders for his services.

Whitehaven: Broadbent; Calvert, Seeds, Nanyn, Wilson; Joe, Penny; Tandy, Sice, Fatialofa, Miller, Hill, Lester. Substitutes used: Rudd, Summers, Chambers, Jackson.

Castleford: Platt; Pryce, Shenton, Hepworth, Blanch; Davis, Henderson; A Watene, Smith, Fletcher, Haughey, Crouch, Bird. Substitutes used: Handforth, Huby, Vowles, F Watene.

Referee: S Ganson (St Helens).