While still in fifth place, and strong favourites to make the play-offs, Castleford Tigers knew that a couple of untimely defeats could see the rest of the chasing pack narrowing the gap and make the change of missing on the end of season jamboree a distinct possibility.
A trip to third placed Huddersfield Giants was not what the doctor ordered to settle the nerves, especially after Ian Watson´s side suffered a heavy defeat against Salford last time out.
The smart money was on a Giants win, but with just a six point start in the coupon the Tigers were banking on upsetting the odds and taking home the points to lift themselves higher into the comfort zone, and three points clear of sixth placed Leeds Rhinos.
Inside three minutes the Tigers took the lead with Greg Eden dropping the shoulder and finding it way to easy to get to the line as the Giants defence opened up. Danny Richardson pushed his kick across the front of the sticks, but it was a great start for the visitors.
Back-to-back set restarts allowed the Giants to march downfield on seventeen and a speculative grubber kick from Tui Lolohea was lashed at by the boot of Richardson, who failed to make contact, and grounded by Oliver Russell to level the scores. The Giants stand off added the conversion for a 6-4 lead.
Theo Fages spilled the ball on twenty-two with the score line begging as both sides made repeated handling errors. But on twenty-seven a flying Louis Senior found space wide left to ground one handed off a Ricky Leutele no look pass. Russell failed to reach the posts with his kick, the Giants six points ahead.
It had been a scrappy first half with neither side able to grab the game by the scruff of it´s neck, the winner would need to be better in the second.
Six minutes after the restart a Richardson 40-20 kick saw the Tigers with possession in the Giants twenty and two plays in, Richardson was again the architect as he put Alex Mellor through a gap to dive in. Richardson added the extras for his third part in the fightback, the scores all level at 10-10.
Within three minutes the Giants were back in front when Leroy Cudjoe made the most of Greg Eden knocking on a Fages high kick to collect the ball and go over from five metres out. Russell added the conversion to re-establish the six-point lead.
Returning the kick-off, the Giants went over again with Lolohea on hand to take a Toby King pass after the centre had broken for thirty metres. Lolohea touched down under the posts to give Russell and simple conversion for 22-10.
Just after the hour mark the Giants further extended their lead with Ricky Leutele the fastest to react to a Russell grubber, dropping on the ball for the fifth Giants try of the night. Russell couldn´t add the extras.
Taking the kick-off, Louis Senior returned the ball for seventy metres down the left wing to go over for his second of the night. The game was in the bag as Russell added the conversion and the Giants took a 32-10 lead, last weeks loss all but forgotten about.
Chris McQueen scored his customary try on sixty-eight as the game turned into a rout as he crashed in from three metres out. Russell missed the conversion, the Giants twenty-six points in the lead.
There was little between the two sides in a scrappy first half, but the Giants totally dominated a second half in which they were ruthless in attack, and edged themselves closer to Wigan as the await a slip in form for the Cherry and Whites. The Tigers now know that a win for the Rhinos tomorrow would see them slip to sixth, and should the in-form Salford Red Devils win in Perpignan on Saturday evening then they would find themselves in the bottom half of the table.
Huddersfield Giants: Lolohea (T), Cudjoe (T), King, Leutele (T), Senior L (2T), Russell (T, 5G), Fages, Wilson, Levi, Hill, Hewitt, McQueen (T), Yates. Subs: English, Greenwood, O´Brien, Mason.
Castleford Tigers: Eden (T), Olpherts, Fonua, Sutcliffe, Faraimo, O´Brien, Richardson (G), Westerman, McShane, Lawler, Blair, Mellor (T), Edwards. Subs: Turner, Mamo, Smith, Martin.
Score Progression: 0-4, 4-4, 6-4, 10-4 : HT : 10-8, 10-10, 14-10, 16-10, 20-10, 22-10, 26-10, 30-10, 32-10, 36-10, : FT.
Lead Exchanges: Castleford – Square – Huddersfield – Square – Huddersfield.
Referee: Jack Smith.