Toa Kohe-Love showed Warrington how much they will miss his finishing if, as expected, he leaves them this winter. A hat-trick of tries from the New Zealander was the difference between the two sides as Castleford's faint hope of making a late dash for a top-five place died.
Warrington's new coach, Steve Anderson, officially in charge for the first time, still has some hopes of keeping Kohe-Love, who has been linked with several other Super League clubs for next season. "I've had a brief talk with Toa and we'll probably find out a bit more this week," he said.
Unusually for this stage of the season, there were two scrum-halves making their debuts, and it was Warrington's Gary Hulse – a match for the departed Allan Langer in stature, if not in experience – who had the upper hand early on. "I watched him for 15 minutes on Thursday night and that was enough for me," said Anderson. "That's what the rest of this season is about. If a young player's got natural ability he is going to get a chance."
Hulse seized that opportunity, side-stepping through after eight minutes for the game's opening try.
With both sides struggling in the continuous rain, Kohe-Love juggled Steve McCurrie's pass but brought it back under control to touch down.
Two conversions and a penalty from Lee Briers added up to a 14-point lead, but then Castleford's Jamie Rooney made his presence felt.
The half-back on loan from Featherstone landed three penalties before half-time to narrow the gap, and it was his skidding kick that forced a knock-on from Dave Alstead early in the second half.
From that possession, the Tigers moved the ball swiftly for Darren Rogers to score on the left flank and Rooney to kick his fourth goal from the touchline.
The momentum was now all with Cas, but Rooney missed the penalty that would have brought them level, and Warrington stepped up the intensity of their tackling to crucial effect.
They pushed Castleford into a series of mistakes – the most damaging being Waine Pryce's knock-on near his own line from Jon Clarke's kick.
From that turnover, Warrington scored the pivotal try, Briers kicking through for Kohe-Love to dive in for his second point. McCurrie and Hulse then linked up for the hat-trick try, Briers adding a drop goal for his conversions.
The Castleford coach, Graham Steadman, admitted that a play-off place was now beyond them."It was a massive game for us," he said. "A win today and Leeds next week at The Jungle could have turned the tide in our favour. Unfortunately it was not to be. It's a mountain for us now."
Warrington Wolves: Alstead; Smyth, Kohe-Love, Sibbit, Hunte; Briers, Hulse; Masella, Clarke, Nutley, McCurrie, Guisset, Nikau. Substitutes used: Noone, P Smith, Knott, Wood.
Castleford Tigers: Flowers; Pryce, Wells, Eagar, Rogers; Roper, Rooney; Sykes, Shaw, Sampson, M Smith, Fritz, Vowles. Substitutes used: Harland, Lennon, Bates, Gay.
Referee: R Connolly (Wigan).Reuse content