Rugby League: Castleford continue to surprise

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The Independent Online
Halifax . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .10

Castleford. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .35

CASTLEFORD again showed the sort of form that could yet make them Yorkshire's most realistic championship chasers, following last week's victory over Wigan with another unexpectedly clear-cut win, writes Dave Hadfield.

A close contest, full of imagination and urgency, was transformed into a romp by some outstanding rugby in the second quarter of the match. Trailing 10-6 midway through the first half, Castleford raced away before half-time.

Tawera Nikau, much closer to the centre of the action in the absence through injury of Lee Crooks, was much more effective as a result and one of his breaks sent in Grant Anderson. St John Ellis, who opened the scoring, grabbed his second after kicking ahead, Tony Kemp raced clear for another and Graham Steadman kicked for the corner and got the kind bounce his enterprise deserved just before the break.

A second try from Graeme Hallas after the interval hinted at a Halifax recovery, but they missed the Great Britain prop Karl Harrison more than Castleford missed Crooks.

Simon Middleton removed all doubts, leaving Steve Hampson rooted embarrassingly to the spot on his debut for Halifax. In the last minute, Steadman plucked Paul Bishop's pass out of the evening air to go 55 yards for the final try.

Steadman, who also kicked three conversions and a drop goal for a personal tally of 15 points, was outstanding for Castleford, but the whole side are now looking solid as well as adventurous.

It is just as well the New Zealand tourists were not still around to see the contribution of their fellow countrymen, because Nikau, Kemp and Richie Blackmore all turned in performances that could have done the Kiwi cause the world of good.

With home-grown players in similarly confident mood, they add up to a convincing blend for Castleford as the season gets into its stride.

Halifax: Lay; Bentley, Schuster, Hallas, Preston (Hampson, 44); Hagan, Bishop; Boyd, (Harland, 55) Southernwood, Lord, Jackson, Harland (Perrett, 47), Divorty.

Castleford: Steadman; Ellis, Blackmore, Anderson, Middleton; Kemp (Smith, 68), Ford; Sampson (England, 66) Russell, Ketteridge, Morrison, Smales, Nikau.

Referee: C Steele (Askham-in-Furness).

St Helens opened up the Stones Bitter championship race with 10 tries in their 54-3 win over the League leaders, Bradford Northern. Anthony Sullivan, the Welsh wing, led the rout with four tries.