Super League: Castleford Tigers 32-22 Widnes Vikings
|Betfred Super League|
|Castleford Tigers (10) 32|
|Tries: Eden 3, Springer, Minkin, Cook Goals: Gale 4|
|Widnes Vikings (12) 22|
|Tries: Ince, Johnson 2, Thompson Goals: Chamberlain 3|
Super League leaders Castleford Tigers survived a huge scare from bottom side Widnes Vikings to extend their winning run to five games.
Greg Eden's third hat-trick in as many games proved key, leading the fight back from 22-10 down against Denis Betts' side.
A much-improved Widnes were ahead at half-time and extended their tally in the second-half.
However, Daryl Powell's Tigers wrestled the points away with their late scores.
There have been limited occasions this season when Powell's side have failed to entertain, but their stars almost saw the Vikings cause an upset.
That said, their title ambitions were bolstered by the manner of their comeback against an aggressive Widnes side that was looking for their first win in five games.
Few would have foreseen the first-half drama, which saw Cas go in front through Eden's well-worked effort but then they failed to build on extensive field position and possession against a ruthless visiting side who took their few opportunities.
Gadwin Springer's try just before half-time brought Cas back within two points but they failed to build on that momentum after the break.
Widnes, pumped up with confidence following their exploits in the opening 40 minutes, turned on the style for tries by Corey Thompson and Jordan Johnstone - whose score epitomised the hosts' adventure.
Yet the Tigers, roared on by 7,600 home supporters on a sticky night, found the resolve to battle back, and were inspired by Luke Gale and Paul McShane, with the decisive finishing touches applied by Gregs Minikin and Eden.
Matt Cook's thunderous finish was the final act of a topsy-turvy game that keeps the Tigers on top.
Castleford head coach Daryl Powell told BBC Radio Leeds:
"It was a tough game, Widnes I thought were excellent - they played well and came with a plan.
"They got after some of our key players and put them under pressure, it was great performance.
"Ultimately it is about winning and we got over the line so we're pleased.
"The pressure is clearly on us to win the game today and you could see there was quite a few little bits and pieces that made it difficult."
Widnes head coach Denis Betts told BBC Radio Merseyside:
"Sometimes you don't get the bounce of the ball and coming out the other end with a scrappy win would be better.
"I asked for things from the team over this week and I'm getting it.
"We're hurting ourselves because we lack continuity in selection and some consistency in our training."
Castleford Tigers: Hardaker; Monaghan, Minikin, Shenton, Eden; Roberts, Gale; Lynch, McShane, Millington, Sene-Lefao, McMeeken, Massey.
Replacements: Milner, Cook, Springer, Holmes.
Widnes Vikings: Johnson; Ince, Chamberlain, Runciman, Thompson; Heremaia, Johnstone; Burke, White, Gerrard, Walker, Olbison, J Chapelhow.
Replacements: E Chapelhow, Cahill, Walker, Manuokafoa.