Daryl Powell's Castleford Tigers are emerging as the real thing in 2017. By far the best attack, averaging over forty per game, and the second best defence fully justify their table topping start to the season. But round eight sent them to the DW Stadium to take on a Wigan Warriors side who were still smarting after a defeat against Leeds last weekend,which saw them drop out of the top four.
The Warriors needed the win to get back into the top four but a victory for the Tigers would lift them two points clear at the top of the table.
With Wigan and Castleford currently joint favourites to lift the 2017 Super League Trophy this was the game of the round.
It was a messy and scrappy opening twenty-three minutes with plenty of handling errors and some clumsy penalties, but neither side could make the other pay for their mistakes.
The deadlock was broken when Jake Webster went over off a Ben Roberts pass after yet another Tigers penalty on the Warriors twenty metre line. Luke Gale kicked his forty-first goal of the season for 6-0.
Two minutes later and they Tigers doubled their lead with a thirty metre Zak Hardaker break before he released Luke Gale to canter under the sticks. He added the conversion and the Warriors looked rocked.
On thirty minutes Paul McShane milked a penalty by exposing the Wigan markers not square and Luke Gale kicked the penalty from ten metres out.
Wigan opened their account on thirty-four as Morgan Escare ran the angle, avoided the tacklers, and slid over ten in from the right corner flag. Escare failed to kick the conversion but the Warriors were at least underway and back within ten of the visitors at the interval.
Wigan were stunned two minutes after the restart when Jesse Sene-Lefao burst down the middle and shaking off four attempted tackles to score under the posts. Gale kicked the conversion from in front of the sticks. At 20-4 it was looking like an uphill struggle for the Warriors.
On seventy-two expansive Wigan play finally broke a sensational Castelford defence when Tom Davies made a great break before finding the supporting Escare to go over. The Frenchman added the extras for 10-20.
Three minutes from time, a suicidal Joel Tomkins 'no look' pass was intercepted by Greg Eden just two metres from his own line and the Tigers winger went the length of the field to score under the sticks giving Gale a simple goal for 26-10.
Gale added a drop goal in the dying seconds to seal an impressive and comprehensive win.
The Castleford Tigers juggernaut continues its way through Super League 2017 and they look to have the measure of whoever they come up against. This was Wigan's third consecutive loss and sees them without a win in four. Castleford will go into the busy Easter period at the top of the table, and leave the Warriors wondering when their run of bad form will come to an end.
Escare (2T, G), Davies, Isa, Forsyth, Marshall, Williams, Leuluai, Nuuausala, Powell, Flower, Tomkins, Farrell, Sutton. Subs: Tautai, Clubb, Gregson, Bretherton.
Hardaker, Minikin, Webster (T), Monaghan, Eden (T), Roberts, Gale (T, 5G), Massey, McShane, Cook, Holmes, McMeeken, Milner. Subs: Sene-Lefao (T), Moors, Springer, Chase.