Castleford Tigers held off a spirited challenge by Widnes Vikings to earn their first win of the 2018 Betfred Super League season with a hard-fought 13-12 success.
Last season’s runners-up suffered a heavy defeat at St Helens in their opener and they were well below their best in seeing off the Vikings.
The Tigers dominated the opening 40 minutes but were frustrated by strong Widnes defence until Greg Minikin finished the last play of the half.
Matt Whitley’s converted try nudged the visitors ahead only for Jy Hitchcox to cross to swing the game back Castleford’s way.
Feels good to get off the mark a tell thi!!! Credit to Widnes, tough team to beat. And thanks for turning up in those Baltic conditions 😂😂— Oliver Holmes (@Oli_Holmes) February 11, 2018
Luke Gale booted five points to put the Tigers two scores in front but they were clinging on in the dying minutes after Jay Chapelhow had given the Vikings hope of back-to-back victories.
“We needed to win and in some ways that’s why we looked nervous at times,” said Castleford coach Daryl Powell.
“I’m really pleased with the two points.
“I’m looking forward to this next two weeks. We need to chill out and relax a bit. It’ll come for us.
“We trained with a great attitude all week. Obviously it’s been a tough week for us because we’re not used to the standard that we put out there last week.
Tough game against a really good widnes team, awful conditions again please warm up 😩!! Credit to all the fans 🐯👏— Nathan massey (@Massey196) February 11, 2018
“The whole place is a bit nervous about us and that doesn’t help either. I’m not blaming anyone for that.
“But I think everybody expects us to be on this journey of winning every week and this is a different journey, a different season.
“We’re going to have to find something else and today we did. We’re not all singing, all dancing – the conditions are tough. We’re still trying to find our fluency.
“We’ve just got to chill out with that. It’s not going to be like it was last year.
“We just need to relax a little bit and I’d like to think our speccies (fans) will relax a little bit and give us a little bit of time in the knowledge that we’re working our backsides off to be as good as we can be.”
Thank you to the Vikings’ outstanding away support today - your passion meant so much to the team. Hope you’ve started to thaw out! Let’s pack the house on Friday, when we take on @wolvesrl! pic.twitter.com/9piPkg6NgJ— Widnes Vikings (@WidnesRL) February 11, 2018
Asked if Widnes deserved a draw, head coach Denis Betts said: “I think a win would have been the right result.
“It was a tough game. Both sides wanted to play but couldn’t because of the heavy pitch.
“We competed with the side that played in the Grand Final and completely dominated the league last year.
“I want them to be disappointed. We came here for two points and we’re still only on two points after putting two massive efforts in.
“No matter how much effort we put in we’ve got to get some points.”
Thank you to our amazing fans today, who’s heading home for a hot brew and a warm bath ❄️ pic.twitter.com/DiAjdrMTcG— Castleford Tigers (@CTRLFC) February 11, 2018