Rugby League: Warrington still in the hunt: Wire keep championship hopes alive

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Castleford. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .16

Warrington. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .21

WARRINGTON will go into their final match of a season which has seemed several times to have died under them still with a chance of winning the First Division championship.

A stuttering and disjointed victory at Castleford yesterday means that a win over Sheffield on Friday and a slip by Wigan and Bradford in midweek would give them the title. Even if their two rivals win, they can maintain the pressure on them by winning at Wilderspool.

They rarely looked as though they believed in either scenario and it was the slackness of Castleford plus some key decisions in their favour which kept them in the hunt.

Castleford had three tries disallowed, while Warrington added one highly dubious one to their account when Mark Forster seemed to bounce the ball as he crossed in the corner.

That try gave Warrington a 16-12 lead early in the second half and, although Castleford levelled with two Lee Crooks penalties, a Jonathan Davies drop goal and Forster's second try eventually saw them home.

That came when Davies poached possession from Graham Steadman at a play-the- ball, but even after that Warrington seemed intent on squandering their advantage.

In a frantic last few minutes, Andy Bennett became the second Warrington player to be sent to the sin bin and Davies missed a chance to seal the game with a penalty.

Warrington owed what fluency they did display to the skills of Kelly Shelford. He set up both their first-half tries, first with a clever pass to Jon Roper and then with a delightful little kick which he gathered to release Davies.

In between those two and

after Greg Mackey had been sent to the sin bin for holding back Simon Middleton, Crooks barged over for a converted try. While Mackey was still missing, Castleford drew level again when Tawera Nikau's perfect pass sent Hay over.

In an untidy game, Warrington's greater need for a victory eventually showed through, even if they rarely looked championship material.

Castleford: Steadman; St J Ellis, Blackmore (Flowers, 74) Hay, Middleton; T Smith, Ford; Crooks, Russell, Sampson, Ketteridge (C Smith, 28), Smales, Nikau.

Warrington: Davies; Forster, Bateman (Bennett, 45), Roper, Harris; K Ellis, Mackey; Teitzel, (Phillips, 25), Thursfield, Tees, Darbyshire, Sanderson, Shelford.

Referee: J Connolly (Wigan).