Huddersfield 36-6 Castleford: Five takeaways as Tigers remain winless in 2023

Josh McAllister
Tui Lolohea, Huddersfield Giants v Castleford Tigers. SW Pix.

Picture by Ed Sykes/

Castleford remain winless in 2023 as they fell to a 36-6 defeat to Huddersfield at the John Smith’s Stadium.

It’s two wins from three for Ian Watson’s Giants, while the Tigers have lost their first four games of the 2023 Super League campaign.

Here are our five takeaways…

Struggling Tigers

Andy Last’s audition for the permanent role as Castleford head coach has hit a rocky start, with little improvements made for this one.

Castleford are struggling early on in the season, and it was no change at the John Smith’s Stadium. 

They have conceded a total of 128 points in the first opening rounds, and need an injection of confidence for their 2023 campaign. 

They play Leeds, Warrington and travel to Catalans in their next three fixtures.

Oliver Russell’s influence

Huddersfield half-back Oliver Russell was named for his first appearance of the 2023 season and he made an instant impact.

Russell, 24, featured in the club’s reserves last weekend in a star-studded line up, having suffered a slight knock in the pre-season fixture with Dewsbury.

However, the England Knights representative looked back to full fitness and controlled the game in his first game back. 

Head coach Ian Watson previously questioned his side’s kicking game in the first few rounds, but that looked much improved with Russell on the field. He also converted six goals. 

Lightning McQueen

Chris McQueen ended the 2022 Super League season as Huddersfield’s top try-scorer with a total of 15, the 11th most in the whole competition.

And he has now opened his 2023 account, crossing for a brace against the struggling Tigers. He is no doubt one of the best back-rowers in the competition, and is off-contract at the end of the year, turning 36 in August. 

Attacking issues

Despite boasting the half-back pairing of Gareth Widdop and Jacob Miller, Castleford have been struggling with their attack in 2023.

The side have only crossed for seven tries so far this season – with five of those coming in the opening game against Hull.

They failed to score a point against Wigan in Round Three, and only managed to cross once in Huddersfield through George Lawler in the opening minutes.

Magic Pryce

Will Pryce was thrown into the action sooner than expected, with half-back Theo Fages forced from the field just 11 minutes in through injury.

And the 20-year-old didn’t take long to get straight into the game. He scored his side’s second try of the evening, doing it all himself from the scrum, and had a big say in the victory.

He is of course NRL bound in 2024 alongside Wigan’s Kai Pearce-Paul, with the duo heading to Newcastle Knights.

How it happened

  • 8’ George Lawler scores his first try of the season and the opens the scoring of the night just eight minutes in. The prop forward forcing his way over, with Gareth Widdop kicking a 40/20 in the lead up. Widdop converts. (0-6)
  • 11’ Theo Fages is forced to leave the field through injury, replaced by Will Pryce. (0-6)
  • 14’ The Giants respond through back-rower Chris McQueen, also his first of the season. The returning Oliver Russell levels the scores. (6-6)
  • 23’ Russell gives his side the lead through a penalty conversion. (8-6)
  • 25’ Alex Sutcliffe leaves the field for a head injury assessment. (8-6)
  • 29’ Substitute Pryce scores straight from the scrum with a lovely step. Russell adds the two. (14-6)
  • 35’ Pryce provides this time off the boot, with Jake Bibby grounding the ball for his first in Huddersfield colours. Russell misses his first. (18-6)
  • 38’ Russell converts a penalty for a high shot. (20-6)
  • 38’ Sutcliffe fails his HIA. 
  • HT: Huddersfield 20-6 Castleford
  • 43’ McQueen sells a dummy and slides over for his second in the corner. Russell’s kick is just short. (24-6)
  • 52’ Tui Lolohea scores Huddersfield’s next, getting on the end of a grubber from veteran Leroy Cudjoe. Russell converts. (30-6)
  • 62’ Appearing on the wing, Cudjoe goes from try-provider to try-scorer. Esan Marsters setting up the 34-year-old for his first of the season. Russell misses. (34-6)
  • 79’ Russell converts another penalty following a high shot from Liam Watts on the full-time hooter. (36-6)
  • FT: Huddersfield 36-6 Castleford

How they lined up

Huddersfield: Lolohea, Golding, Bibby, Marsters, Cudjoe, Russell, Fages, Hill,Peats, Wilson, Jones, McQueen, Yates. Bench: Greenwood, Ashworth, English, Pryce. 18: Livett

Tries: McQueen (2), Pryce, Bibby, Lolohea, Cudjoe Goals: Russell 6/9

Castleford: Broadbent, Eden, Sutcliffe, Fonua, Qareqare, Widdop, Miller, Matagi, Lawler, Massey, Mellor, Edwards, Westerman. Bench: Milner, Watts, Smith, Mustapha. 18: Vete

Tries: Lawler Goals: Widdop 1/1

What they said

Despite scoring six tries, Huddersfield boss Watson still believes there’s improvement in his side’s attack. He said on Sky Sports: “I think we still look a little bit clunky in good ball.

“Probably the area I was pleased with was the composure. I think Oliver Russell helped with that. His kicking game was outstanding.

“We’re happy, we just know there’s some stuff to be worked on. Overall, we’ve been really good defensively. We had a few slips against Warrington and we spoke about that as we worked really hard in pre-season. I think the goal-line defence apart from the first set where we conceded, after that we were hungry to defend. I thought the boys were outstanding.”

Castleford interim boss Last said: “The first thing I’ll say to my players, we’ve put ourselves in this hole, we’ve got to work our way out of it. The last tackle plays today just weren’t good enough.”

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