Wigan 24 Castleford 30: Manu's raw power leaves Wigan adrift at bottom

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The Independent Online

Castleford put a six-point gap between themselves and Wigan on a night when relegation from Super League began to loom as a real possibility for the game's most famous club. There might be more than half the season left, but this was a crucial game and one in which the promoted Tigers triumphed on merit.

They started the season as favourites to go back down, but in players like their half-backs Peter Lupton and the 38-year-old Brad Davis and their powerhouse forward, Willie Manu, they had men who were too good at their jobs for Wigan.

Manu, who missed the season's start after serving a Community Service Order in Sydney, set up the first try for Michael Platt and scored the last with a display of brute strength. "The more he plays, the better he'll get,'' said his coach, Terry Matterson.

Cas led three times in the first half, through Platt, Gray Viane and a contentious second from Platt after he was held in a tackle.

Mark Calderwood, his first for the club, and Micky Higham twice brought Wigan level, but when Castleford hit the front for the third time they finished the job.

Davis put them 10 points ahead at half-time, and although Nathan McVoy became another to score his first Wigan try after the break, Castleford never looked like losing.

Paul Handforth reached through a forest of legs to touchdown and the killer blow came from Manu, who handled three times in a surge down the left before his raw power took him over.

Higham's late second try gave Wigan a glimmer of hope, but Castleford were not to be denied.

"We came second,'' said Noble succinctly. "We paid for a poor first half.

"Our backs are against the wall and we need to roll our sleeves up for the whole 80 minutes," Noble added.

Wigan: Ashton, Calderwood, Goulding, McAvoy, Richards, Orr, Moran, Logan, Godwin, Seuseu, Tickle, Fletcher, O'Loughlin. Substitutes: Paleaaesini, Hargreaves, Higham, James.

Castleford: Platt, Pryce, Shenton, McGoldrick, Dyer, Lupton, Davis, Fa'aoso, Henderson, Nutley, Roarty, Manu, Bird. Substitutes: Ward, Huby, Viane, Handforth.

Referee: K Kirkpatrick (Warrington).

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