Super League Champions Wigan now look likely to miss out on the top four after Luke Gale’s replacement Jake Trueman scored a hat-trick in Castleford’s 38-20 victory at the DW Stadium.
The 18-year-old, who signed from Bradford Bulls in January, put in a scintillating performance with his three first-half tries helping the Tigers to a 20-0 half-time lead.
Wigan briefly mounted a second-half comeback but they made too many errors as they slipped to their 12th league defeat of the season.
It took only five minutes for Castleford to open the scoring and it was Trueman who created it, the youngster kicked through on the free play for Greg Eden to score his 38th try of the season.
The visitors were in again 10 minutes later as Adam Milner’s grubber was touched down for Trueman’s first try.
Wigan were struggling to keep hold of the ball and a mistake from Anthony Gelling gifted Trueman his second try before he completed his hat-trick before half-time.
His three tries combined with two conversions from Paul McShane put the Tigers 20-0 up at the break to leave the DW Stadium stunned.
If Wigan had an improbable task to comeback it was made almost impossible six minutes into the second half as Greg Minikin scored the visitors fifth try, McShane adding the conversion to make it 26-0.
Shaun Wane’s side did finally get on the board when Tom Davies wriggled over and they added another one moments later as Zak Hardaker’s mistake gifted Sam Tomkins a try.
As we entered the final quarter the fightback was in full swing as Thomas Leuluai proved too elusive close to the line, George Williams added his second conversion to reduce the deficit to 10 points.
However, Daryl Powell’s side halted their opponents’ charge going into the last 10 minutes as after Trueman’s kick forced a goal-line drop-out, Michael Shenton sliced through with McShane’s conversion restoring the Tigers’ 16-point advantage.
Willie Isa went over for a consolation try but it was Cas who had the last laugh as Hardaker’s grubber found Minkin on the hooter for his second, McShane converting to make the final score 38-20.
Castleford will break the record for Super League competition points in a season with victory next weekend, but Wigan’s top-four chances are out of their hands.
The Warriors must beat Wakefield next weekend and hope that St Helens or Hull get beat, otherwise the Champions will miss out on the play-offs.
Wigan: S Tomkins, Davies, Gelling, Gildart, Burgess, Williams, Leuluai, Nuusausala, McIlorum, Clubb, Bateman, Farrell, J Tomkins. Interchange: Sutton, Isa, Powell, Tautai.
Castleford: Hardaker, Minikin, Webster, Shenton, Eden, McShane, Trueman, Millington, Milner, Foster, Holmes, McMeeken, Massey. Interchange: Sene-Lefao, Cook, Springer, Holmes.