Pictures Eddie Whitham
THERE won’t be a second Wembley outing for Warrington this year as the Wolves went down 35-20 to Castleford in the Challenge Cup semi-finals.
After Warrington Rylands had won the FA Vase at the national stadium last month, Steve Price’s side had the chance to potentially make it a double for the town but a sluggish first half display put paid to their hopes.
Entering the game as favourites due to their recent form, and also Castleford’s 60-6 thumping against Leeds last week, Warrington trailed 6-0 through Gareth O’Brien’s converted try at Leigh Sports Village when Jake Mamo was sinbinned for a professional foul.
Former Wolves half-back O’Brien added the subsequent penalty and by the time Mamo returned to the pitch, the score was 18-0 as Jordan Turner scored twice in the left corner.
Inspired by full-back Niall Evalds, Castleford were breaking at will in the first half and completed a near faultless 40 minutes with a Paul McShane drop goal that put them 19-0 to the good at the break.
With St Helens and a repeat of the 2019 final on offer, Warrington needed a minor miracle to get back in to the game but they got off to the perfect start in the second half.
Ben Currie crashed on to a short ball from Gareth Widdop and brilliantly swapped hands on the ball to evade the tackle and stretch over the line, and when Mamo burst through and superbly rounded Evalds, to score in the corner, Warrington had all the momentum at 19-8 with seven minutes of the second half gone.
But a sloppy pass to touch by Currie gifted Castleford field position and they made it pay through Jesse Sene-Lefao.
A nice solo score by Toby King kept the Wolves’ hopes up, but another mistake by Currie, who knocked on a Stefan Ratchford pass, set up the position for Turner’s hat-trick try, all of which were confirmed by the video referee.
That knocked the wind out of Warrington’s sails and though Josh Charnley would score a fourth try, Paul McShane made sure of the win to send Castleford to Wembley for the second time in eight years.
Warrington are next in action at home to Wakefield on Friday.
Castleford Tigers: Evalds, Olpherts, Mata’utia, Shenton, Turner, O’Brien, Trueman, Milner, Sene-Lefao, Holmes, Matagi, McShane, Massey. Subs: Watts, Foster, O’Neill, Clare.
Tries: O’Brien, Turner (3), Sene-Lefao, McShane. Goals: O’Brien 5 Drop-goal: McShane
Warrington: Ratchford, Lineham, Mamo, King, Charnley, Austin, Widdop, Hill, Clark, Cooper, Currie, Hughes, Davis. Subs: Mulhern, Philbin, Akauola, Walker.
Tries: Currie, Mamo, King, Charnley. Goals: Widdop 2
🐺 Toby King does it all himself!
— Betfred Challenge Cup (@TheChallengeCup) June 5, 2021
🏁 FULL TIME with @ResultingIT
Our Challenge Cup journey ends at the semi final stage. pic.twitter.com/yxfTdXIVGZ
— Warrington Wolves (@WarringtonRLFC) June 5, 2021