Wigan guarantee second spot after beating Castleford – talking points & player ratings

Photo courtesy of Richard Long

Wigan beat Castleford 26-8 to guarantee home advantage in the play-offs.

The Warriors now get home advantage in the play-offs as well as getting a second bite at the apple, should they need it.

Castleford can still make the top five, but they will rely on St Helens winning at Hull FC on Friday night.

Wigan coach Adrian Lam made two changes to his side that beat Catalans last week. Sean O’Loughlin and Ben Flower replaced Liam Marshall and Liam Farrell.

Daryl Powell made one change to his Castleford outfit that beat Hull FC last time out. Chris Clarkson came in for Adam Milner.

A penalty goal from Jamie Ellis gave Castleford an early lead but Wigan star George Williams went over for the game’s first try in the 16th minute.

The game failed to get going in the first half and Ellis failed with two more attempts at goal in the latter stages of the first half, with Wigan 4-2 to the good at the break.

Zak Hardaker, Joe Greenwood and Oliver Gildart went over for Wigan before the final quarter to seal the two points for the hosts.

Castleford forward Jesse Sene-Lefao was sent off in the 67th minute for dropping his knees on the head of young prop Ollie Partington.

Hardaker then added a penalty goal and Morgan Smithies scored his first try for the club late on in the game.

Cheyse Blair scored a consolation try for Castleford on the full-time hooter but Wigan finished 26-8 winners.

Three talking points

Wigan en route to Old Trafford

Does anyone actually think that Lam’s men won’t make it to the Grand Final now? It already feels like everyone is already in the mindset that it will be St Helens-Wigan at Old Trafford.

The Warriors are the form team in England right now, having won the last 12 out of 13 matches. They are flying and, at this point, it doesn’t seem like anyone can stop them apart from the old enemy, St Helens.

The Wigan players have a will and hunger to play for each other like not many other teams. Their desire in defence is what pulls them through in games rather than their attack.

Castleford rely on St Helens

The Tigers will be praying as much as they can in the next 24 hours as they need league leaders St Helens to take the spoils against Hull FC at the KCOM Stadium on Friday night.

Powell’s side have done this year very tough with injuries. It was always going to be an uphill battle when star half-back Luke Gale picked up a season-ending injury before the campaign even got going.

However, if St Helens to do the job in Yorkshire, then Castleford have a glimmer of hope of making it back to the Grand Final for the second time in three years.

O’Loughlin back at the right time

Wigan captain O’Loughlin made his return from a torn pectoral injury against Castleford and played around 30 minutes in the game. It was a solid return for the skipper.

Warriors supporters will be glad that he has been able to return before the end of the season, and he is coming back at exactly the right time.

He is one of the most underrated players in the game and he makes a big difference to Lam’s side with his presence on the field. The cream always rises and all that…

Line-ups and ratings

Wigan: Hardaker (8); French (7), Sarginson (5), Gildart (7), Burgess (8); Williams (7), Leuluai (8); Clubb (8), Powell (7), Partington (8), Isa (7), Greenwood (8), Smithies (7). Subs: Byrne (7), Navarrete (7), Flower (7), O’Loughlin (7).

Tries: Williams, Hardaker, Greenwood, Gildart, Smithies Goals: Hardaker 3/6

Castleford: Rankin (6); Clare (5), Mata’utia (5), Blair (4), Minikin (4); Trueman (5), Ellis (5); Watts (6), McShane (6), Millington (5), Sene-Lefao (4), McMeeken (4), Massey (5). Subs: Holmes (5), Cook (5), Clarkson (4), Smith (4).

Tries: Blair Goals: Ellis 2/4

Attendance: 11,001

Drew’s views

It was a very solid and comprehensive performance from the Warriors. Their defence was superb and they were fluent in attack. Hardaker has a very important role to play in the next couple of weeks.

As for Castleford, they didn’t perform like a top five team. They lacked ideas going forward and they didn’t look like they wanted it compared to Wigan.

Sene-Lefao’s sending off was daft and dangerous. It could have seriously hurt Partington and one would suspect a lengthy ban for the Tigers forward.

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About Drew Darbyshire 8343 Articles
Love Rugby League Deputy Editor. Joined the site ahead of the 2017 World Cup and been a full-time reporter since 2018.

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