Gareth Widdop claimed a hat-trick of tries to help Warrington Wolves to a convincing 38-14 Betfred Super League victory over Castleford Tigers at the Halliwell Jones stadium.
The Wolves scrum-half gave a nudge to England coach Shaun Wane that he is returning back to his best form after being omitted from the current international squad preparing for this autumn’s World Cup.
Widdop benefitted from outstanding work from full-back Stefan Ratchford, who had a hand in four of Warrington’s seven tries and also kicked five goals for good measure
Josh Charnley registered a landmark try as his first-half effort saw him move joint fifth in the all-time Super League try-scoring list, alongside Ryan Atkins on 186, while Toby King claimed two tries and Daryl Clark also touched down for the Wolves.
It was a disappointing afternoon for long-serving Tigers boss Daryl Powell who will replace Wolves coach Steve Price at the end of the season as he watched his side suffer back-to-back defeats after their shock home loss to Hull KR on Monday.
Castleford’s points came from two tries from Jordan Turner and one from Jake Trueman along with a Danny Richardson conversion
Powell enjoyed 21-12 victory over his future employers in the opening game of the season and with the Wolves gaining revenge it sets up a mouthwatering Challenge Cup semi-final between the sides in a fortnight’s time.
Warrington switched King back to centre in the absence of Greg Inglis, who damaged a hamstring in Monday’s defeat by Huddersfield. Skipper Jack Hughes returned from suspension but Sitaleki Akauola picked up a one-match ban against the Giants and he was replaced by Rob Butler.
The Tigers were forced into a last-minute reshuffle with Peter Mata’utia a late withdrawal while Niall Evalds and Oliver Holmes also missed out. That meant Castleford gave a debut from the bench to prop Suaia Matagi, who joined the club on loan from Huddersfield, and there were also recalls for Tyla Hepi and Lewis Bienek.
It was a mixed start to the game for the visitors when Richardson put the kick off dead in the breezy conditions, but the Tigers’ defence held firm and on their first possession Paul McShane’s midfield break saw the supporting Trueman touch down after just two minutes, with Richardson converted.
However, in a frantic opening the Wolves responded immediately with two tries in three minutes.
Firstly, Charnley crossed in the corner and then King claimed a quickfire second, both created by Ratchford, who also booted over one conversion to make it 10-6.
But Cas responded with the fourth try of the game in the opening 17 minutes when Turner just managed to squeeze over in the corner to level matters.
The Castleford defence then failed to deal with a crossfield run by Widdop who straightened up and crashed through two attempted tackles for a fine solo try and a further Ratchford penalty gave Warrington a 16-10 half-time advantage.
The first try of the second half was always going to be crucial and Warrington gained it on the hour mark when Ratchford sent Widdop over for his second which knocked the stuffing out of the visitors.
Widdop claimed his hat-trick try three minutes later finishing off a Blake Austin break and the Wolves sealed the win with King and Clark adding to Castleford’s misery who claimed a late consolation through Turner.
Warrington: Ratchford; Thewlis, Mamo, King, Charnley; Austin, Widdop; Hill, D. Clark, Cooper, Currie, Hughes, Philbin. Subs: J. Clark, Mulhern, Davis, Butler.
Castleford: Clark; Olpherts, Mata’utia, Shenton, Turner; Richardson, Trueman, Massey, McShane, Smith, Griffin, Sene-Lefao, Milner. Subs: Hepi, Matagi, Peachey, Martin.