Toronto Wolfpack played their first Super League game in front of a sold-out Headlingley against a hard-working Castleford Tigers. The sides faced-off in pre-season but with points on the line Cas proved too strong.
For Toronto, James Cunningham and Brad Singleton made their debuts alongside big new signing Sonny Bill Williams. As for Castleford, Derrell Olpherts, Danny Richardson, George Griffin and Tyla Hepi made their bow for the club.
In the first of two games at the home of Leeds Rhinos, the crowd were instantly entertained as Danny Richardson’s kick-off nearly bounced out but quick reactions from Ricky Leutele saved the Wolfpack’s blushes.
Toronto scored plenty of tries over the past three seasons, in chasing a spot in Super League and they were the first to score in this encounter.
Hakim Miloudi played provider as he dribbled a through for the Wolfpack’s dirst ever signing, Liam Kay to chase, and the winger did not disappoint as he dotted down for their first ever try in Super League after just four and a half minutes.
Toronto went close once more, but Miloudi couldn’t quite gather a Josh McCrone pass and Greg Eden gathered the loose ball, raced 90 metres and levelled the score before Richardson pushed the away-side ahead.
A huge head clash between George Griffin and Adam Milner put a slight delay on the game but it showed that Toronto’s pack, and certainly Adam Sidlow should not be taken lightly.
Unfortunately, Griffin’s afternoon would end here after failing his Head Injury Assessment.
The back and forth continued in terms of possession and territory continued but the Tigers took advantage of their superior size and Grant Millington overpowered Sidlow and stretched the ball onto the try-line.
Millington came close to scoring his second try of the game but McCrone managed to get his hand in front of the prop-forward. The Wolfpack exposed the stretched Tigers line but Miloudi couldn’t hold onto the ball and a small moment of excitement came to an end.
The introduction of Sonny Bill Williams was met with a loud cheer, and an even louder one as he dropped the ball in his first carry.
This put Cas in the ascendancy and after returning to the field, Adam Milner controlled Jordan Rankin’s kick, and dived on top of the ball to score under the posts.
The ill-disciplined Toronto were not helping themselves, and the Tigers continued to test and stretch the Wolfpack defence.
Jake Trueman found himself over the whitewash bit was deemed held-up for both James Childs and Chris Kendall, however, on the following play the ball was spread to Michael Shenton and the captain further extended his record-try tally for Castleford
A penalty kick pushed Castleford slightly further ahead as the half-time whistle blew.
HALF-TIME: Toronto Wolfpack 4-22 Castleford Tigers
Toronto were struggling to get used to the speed of Super League and Castleford looked to be over once more through Cheyse Blair but Blake Wallace managed to get himself underneath the ball and the decision was overturned by Chris Kendall.
However, once again on the next play, Peter Mata’utia stepped back across the grain of the Wolfpack defence for a fifth Tigers try for a 24 point advantage.
The Wolfpack were certainly improving on their dreadful first half but were still not clinical enough in attack. They did manage to score the next try though as Miloudi picked off a Jordan Rankin pass and raced 60 metres to score.
Toronto crossed the line for a third time through Adam Sidlow after sloppy Cas defending, however, the prop-forward failed to ground the ball, and was deemed to have knocked-on by Kendall.
Players tired quickly, which caused the game to become riddled with errors, causing the game to become extremely stop-start.
Toronto will be disappointed with the overall result but an improved second-half performance will be a lot for Brian McDermott’s side to build on.
FULL-TIME: Toronto Wolfpack 10-28 Castleford Tigers
Our Man of the Match: Greg Eden
Despite what looked like a horror injury after 50 minutes, the Castleford winger somehow continued playing and had an extremely solid 80 minutes and managed to pick himself up Castleford’s first try of 2020.
Wallace, Kay, Miloudi, Leutele, Russell, Mellor, McCrone, Sidlow, Ackers, Mullally, Dixon, Olbison, Wilkin.
Interchanges: Springer, Singleton, Cunningham, Williams.
Tries: Kay , Miloudi
Goals: Wallace (1/2)
Rankin, Olpherts, Mata’utia, Shenton, Eden, Trueman, Richardson, Watts, McShane, Millington, Griffin, Blair, Milner.
Interchanges: Massey, Smith, ONeill, Hepi.
Tries: Eden, Millington, Milner, Shenton, Mata’utia
Goals: Richardson (4/6)
Referee: J. Childs
Touch Judges: M. Craven, R. Thompson
Video Referee: C. Kendall
image: @seriousaboutrl (twitter)