Super League: Castleford Tigers 14-30 Warrington Wolves
|First Utility Super League preliminary semi-final|
|Castleford Tigers (4) 14|
|Tries: Ellis, Dorn, Shenton Goals: Sneyd|
|Warrington Wolves (10) 30|
|Tries: Atkins, J Monaghan 2, O'Brien, Evans Goals: Ratchford 5|
Warrington Wolves reached the Super League play-off semi-finals for the fourth successive year with victory over Castleford at the Jungle.
Wolves led 10-4 at the break, Ryan Atkins and Joel Monaghan grabbing tries either side of Jamie Ellis's for Cas.
Luke Dorn gave Tigers hope with a second-half try before Gareth O'Brien and Rhys Evans went over for Wolves.
Monaghan scored a second to complete the win before Michael Shenton crossed for a late consolation.
Stefan Ratchford also kicked five goals, including two penalties, as Warrington advanced to a last-four meeting with St Helens or Wigan.
The identity of their opponents will be decided after Friday's other preliminary semi-final between Huddersfield Giants and Catalan Dragons.
Defeat ended Castleford's hopes of finishing a remarkable season with silverware, having lost the Challenge Cup final to Leeds Rhinos and missed out on the League Leaders' Shield by a solitary victory.
Warrington are now only one win away from reaching their third Grand Final in three years, having lost the previous two to Leeds Rhinos in 2012 and Wigan Warriors last season.
|Wolves's Super League form|
|1 Aug: Won 26-24 v Catalan Dragons (away)|
|15 Aug: Won 48-10 v Castleford Tigers (home)|
|28 Aug: Drew 24-24 v Huddersfield Giants (h)|
|4 Sep: Won 39-12 v St Helens (a)|
|11 Sep: Lost 20-24 v Wigan Warriors (a)|
|20 Sep: Won 22-19 v Widnes Vikings (h)|
|25 Sep: Won 30-14 v Castleford Tigers (a)|
Atkins grabbed the first points on four minutes, collecting the ball and racing over unchallenged after Ben Harrison charged down a kick from Ellis.
Castleford responded through Ellis as James Clare jumped unopposed to palm the ball back into the path of the half-back.
Marc Sneyd failed with the conversion and his knock-on in the first set after the restart allowed Warrington to increase their lead as Chris Bridge set up 2014 Super League leading try scorer Monaghan, who dived over in the corner.
The visitors needed some frantic defending to protect their half-time lead, and after the break Sneyd conceded a penalty for interference, which was scored by Ratchford.
Dorn broke clear down the left to give Castleford hope, with Sneyd converting to reduce the margin to two points.
However, two tries in three minutes put Warrington back in control, O'Brien linking up with Richie Myler to go over before Evans did well to scoop up the ball and cross from close range.
Ratchford failed to add the extras but again opted for a penalty kick to open a 14-point advantage with fewer than 10 minutes remaining.
Monaghan then reached over for his 33rd league try of the season and almost finished with a hat-trick, only for Daryl Clark - on his final Tigers appearance - to chase the Australian winger down.
Clark, who will join Warrington next season, had earlier threatened the Wolves line before Evans was sin-binned for the visitors and Shenton crossed in the corner.
Castleford Tigers coach Daryl Powell:
"It's pretty tough playing every week all the way through the year and I think that's got us a little bit.
"At 12-10, we had a shot at it. They got us around the ruck for a try that took the game away from us when we looked like we were getting some ascendancy.
"The boys have been awesome all year, right from the start of pre-season until now. Overall we've put Cas back on the map.
"It's been a really good year and it was so close to being a great year."
Warrington Wolves coach Tony Smith:
"It's been a fantastic season for Cas. They've been a real breath of fresh air for Super League.
"You could tell we were on in terms of commitment. We probably weren't as fluent as we would have liked to have been, but I thought our defence was enormous.
"Defence, overall, won us the game. I was confident we would score some points late in the match."
Castleford Tigers: Dorn; Clare, Channing, Shenton, Carney; Sneyd, Ellis; Lynch, Clark, Huby, Holmes, Hauraki, Massey.
Replacements: Dixon, Milner, Millington, Wheeldon.
Warrington Wolves: Ratchford; J. Monaghan, C. Bridge, Atkins, R. Evans; O'Brien, Myler; Hill, M. Monaghan, England, Laithwaite, Waterhouse, Harrison.
Replacements: Higham, Asotasi, Currie, Wood.
Sin Bin: R. Evans (75).
Referee: Phil Bentham (Blackpool)