Prior to Friday night's match, Castleford had won seven out of nine games and were 4th in the table. Without being spectacular, the Tigers have crept up the table following their round one thrashing by St Helens. But, Friday night's clash highlighted just how much work Castleford still have to do if they want to challenge for trophies at the end of the season.


Referee Robert Hicks - who mysteriously took over command of the game despite Chris Kendall's initial appointment - had a very poor game. The penalty count of 12-10 in Wigan's favour may not look too disproportionate, but most of the Warriors' penalties came late in the tackle count, whilst nearly half of Castleford's came on the first tackle.

Plus, Hicks awarded the Tigers a succession of penalties towards the back end of the second-half when the game was already lost.

Whilst the referee was not to blame for Castleford's defeat, too often Hicks and his touch judges were swayed by cries from the Wigan fans and players. For example, when, in the second forty, the ball came free from Oliver Gildart's grasp, Hicks initially called for a knock-on before a barrage of abuse from the Wigan players - most notably Sam Tomkins - influenced him to consult his touch judge. Veteran Tony Martin told Hicks it was a penalty, but only after being crowded by four or five in cherry-and-white.

In recent weeks however, Castleford players have also given the referee no option but to penalise them.

Adam Milner has given away some very daft penalties and this game was no exception. Too often Milner is found scrambling around on the floor rather than being set in either the defensive line or at marker. He has been responsible for cheap yardage and needs to knock this out of his game before it gets too much of an issue. Milner is a superb loose forward, but often lets himself down with brain farts that have become costly.


Whilst Hicks was poor, Castleford were awful for most of the game. Two of Wigan's tries came after Joe Burgess handed off or ran past the usually solid Jake Webster. Some fans have been calling for Webster to be omitted from the Castleford 17 next week. Daryl Powell's policy of rotating the squad to keep them on their toes should perhaps see the Kiwi centre drop out.

But, as other fans have been quick to remind critics, this is the first bad game that Webster has had in many years.

Normally, he is one of Castleford's strongest attacking and defensive asset, but was found wanting on Friday night, missing crucial tackles and making errors with ball in hand. He should be given an opportunity to redeem himself against Wakefield, after all, he has very rarely let the team down before.

Attacking difficulties

It has been no surprise that Castleford have lost a significant amount of flair after the departure of Zak Hardaker, but ten games into the new season and the Tigers are still struggling to find any kind of continuity and structure. Powell has experimented with Ben Roberts and Jamie Ellis partnering Luke Gale in the halves whilst Jake Trueman has now moved to the No.1 spot.

He has been calm and assured at the back, but going forward, Trueman has so far failed to chime into the line at the right time with enough consistency.

On Friday night, Castleford's second try looked reminiscent of 2017 - a sweeping move from right to left, involving both half-backs, Trueman and the left edge resulted in a debut try for Garry Lo. However, this would be the only joy that Trueman would have all night. Roberts was anonymous down the right side whilst Trueman too often ran laterally rather than drawing the defenders in. No full-back in the competition can replace Zak Hardaker, but Castleford's failure to invest in one before the season started appears to have backfired.

Trueman is a wonderfully-talented player and he has shown up well since his shock move to full-back, leading to claims that he could be the solution to the Tigers' problems there.

But, if he is the solution then surely it can only be for the short-term. Trueman is a natural half-back and whilst his slight stature is not too much of a problem when playing in the halves, too many times he has been forced back in the tackle when returning a kick.

Castleford's kicking game was also atrocious. Too many times Luke Gale kicked straight down the throats of Wigan's back three and too many times the kicks were too far down the field to allow the Castleford players to put pressure on the catcher. Whilst four of the Tigers' seven tries against Catalans were from kicks, Gale could have kicked all night on Friday and still not set up a try. And, once more the Tigers failed to score a second-half try for the fourth time this season.

A few positives

Whilst one defeat is enough to get the doom merchants back out, there were some positives for the Tigers to take away from the 28-12 loss. Paul McShane was once more at his most effective despite Castleford being starved of the ball for much of the game. Debutant Garry Lo impressed, running the ball back with vim and vigour whilst he also took his try well. Greg Minikin is improving with every match - his successful chasing down of Joe Burgess saved a try, although Oliver Gildart scored off the next tackle.

Though Grant Millington was quite clearly injured, he still put his body on the line for the team and Matt Cook seemed to be the only forward that wasn't pushed back by the Wigan defence.

Things however, are still not good enough and it appears that it is all down to one man and the failure of the team to get around this issue. Castleford host local rivals Wakefield on Friday whom themselves will want to bounce back after a 38-4 drubbing by Salford. It will be interesting to see whether Powell shakes things up or gives players the chance to redeem themselves.