Warrington remain on course for a third consecutive Super League Grand Final after grinding out victory at fast-fading Castleford in the first preliminary semi-final.
Joel Monaghan, the league’s leading tryscorer, scored two of the Wolves’ five tries, taking his total for the season to 37, as they secured a trip to St Helens or Wigan in next week’s semi-finals.
Castleford, who lost in the Challenge Cup final and narrowly failed in their bid for the League Leaders’ Shield, finish the season empty-handed but at least redeemed themselves following last week’s 41-0 humbling by Saints.
They trailed by just two points when Luke Dorn scored their second try on 52 minutes but faded badly in the final quarter as their long, arduous season eventually took its toll on tired limbs and battered bodies.
Defeat meant the end of their Castleford careers for Marc Sneyd, Jamie Ellis, Weller Hauraki, Craig Huby and Daryl Clark, who is joining Warrington and will now be hoping they go on to reach the Grand Final to give him a chance of playing in February’s World Club Series.
Sneyd, who is moving to Hull, was recalled at the expense of Liam Finn but he was among a host of Tigers players who appeared jaded as they ended their promising campaign with a third-straight defeat.
Castleford Dorn; Clare, Channing, Shenton, Carney; Sneyd, Ellis; Lynch, Clark, Huby, Holmes, Hauraki, Massey. Substitutes used Dixon, Milner, Millington, Wheeldon.
Warrington Ratchford; J Monaghan, C Bridge, Atkins, R Evans; O’Brien, Myler, Hill, M Monaghan, England, Laithwaite, Waterhouse, Harrison. Substitutes used Higham, Asotasi, Currie, Wood.
Referee P Bentham (Blackpool)