Stand-off Dean Widders grabbed two tries in a five-minute spell to help Castleford leapfrog their neighbours Wakefield into the top eight with a crucial 40-16 victory in an entertaining Super League derby at The Jungle yesterday.
With Bradford failing to halt their losing run with a home defeat to Salford, the Tigers are now in pole position to claim the final play-off spot and, more importantly, improve their prospects of a new Super League licence for 2012 at the expense of their arch-rivals.
Castleford look to have the edge over the Wildcats in the race for a new ground and yesterday's victory was a real tonic on the field for Terry Matterson's men as they bounced back from their crushing defeat at Warrington.
In a match low on quality but high on excitement, only two points separated the evenly-matched sides until the chunky Widders demonstrated deceptive pace to touch down Rangi Chase's grubber kick on 58 minutes.
When Widders dummied his way past Daryl Millard five minutes later to claim his second try, there was no way back for Wakefield, despite a second try from the battling Glenn Morrison, who had given his side the lead with his first score after only eight minutes.
Bradford began the post-Steve McNamara era with their eighth league defeat in a row, going down 26-30 to Salford at Odsal. Jodie Broughton, Ste Tyrer and Ashley Gibson all crossed for the Reds, while Steve Menzies and debutant Vinny Finigan responded for the Bulls, who trailed by 10 points at the interval. A Karl Fitzpatrick score and another Broughton spectacular doubled that lead after the break, but Stuart Reardon, Elliott Whitehead and Finigan's second made for a grandstand finish.
Mick Potter, the St Helens coach, takes over at Bradford next season and his current side beat Harlequins 32-18 yesterday, with Shaun Magennis grabbing a try on his full debut.
"It was a mixed bag," reflected Potter of Saints' performance. "There were errors from both teams but it was a competitive match for the crowd. We were our own worst enemy at times."