Castleford Tigers travelled to face Huddersfield Giants tonight in their first game without Lee Radford.
A bad start to the season meant a bad start to the week for Radford as he found himself relieved of his duties, meaning that assistant Andy Last took charge of tonight’s game.
The Tigers were looking for a first win of the season but headed to the John Smith’s stadium where the Giants lost just once in the regular season in 2022.
However the Giants had already lost at home this season so it was to be seen whether Ian Watson’s men could rebuild their fortress.
To do so they named a slightly new-look squad which saw Will Pryce drop to the bench, Tui Lolohea to full-back and therefore the introduction of Olly Russell to the halves.
𝗧𝗘𝗔𝗠 𝗡𝗘𝗪𝗦 🟠
Olly Russ is in for his first start of the season, as Ashton starts on the wing. ⤴️#CowbellArmy🐮🔔 pic.twitter.com/ppxqmV1bAW
— Huddersfield Giants (@Giantsrl) March 10, 2023
As for Castleford Andy Last was looking to youth to inspire a spark with the recalled winger Jason Qareqare getting a start, and Jack Broadbent deputising for the injured Niall Evalds at full-back.
👊 Tonight's team@GeoShieldUK • #COYF • #SLHudCas pic.twitter.com/vNYWmpY5sN
— Castleford Tigers (@CTRLFC) March 10, 2023
Prop forward Suaia Matagi was making his 200th career appearance and it was more celebrations for Castleford early on as they took the lead.
A 40/20 from Gareth Widdop earned the territory and then it was the other prop George Lawler who managed to power over, the Tigers taking the lead before the 10th minute.
Widdop then added the extras but it didn’t take long for the home side to respond and they did so via their try-scoring forward Chris McQueen.
McQueen top scored for the Giants last year, despite all their success, and he crossed over from short range in the 16th minute and Olly Russell’s kick made it all square.
The game became quite scrappy and Huddersfield opted to try and get a foothold by taking the two penalty points when they were on offer.
On the half-hour mark Huddersfield had a scrum in front of the sticks and they used the set-piece well to feed Will Pryce whose try was converted, and it was Pryce’s kick that Jake Bibby got on the end of to score a third try in the 36th minute.
Pryce played a smart grubber kick through and Bibby was first to react, his diving try to touch down being converted to provide the Giants a lead of 20-6 at half time.
The 20 unanswered points were certainly not the way Andy Last would have wanted his Tigers coaching debut to go.
It was a further four unanswered points early on in the second-half as Chris McQueen scored his second of the game in on the right hand corner, looking more like a winger than a second-rower.
Olly Russell’s tough kick didn’t quite make it which left the game at 24-6 just 45 minutes into the game and the scoring wouldn’t end any time soon.
Leroy Cudjoe was released on the left wing and his smart kick through was collected by full-back Tui Lolohea who showed great hands to pick the ball up and score, firmly putting the game beyond any doubt despite it only being the 55th minute.
Cudjoe, on his 340th appearance for the Giants, then turned scorer. Huddersfield opted to pass on the last and Cudjoe was put in a one on one in the corner in which he ran over Broadbent and touched down to make it 34-6.
The final 20 minutes saw Castleford simply try and regain something but to no avail and with Olly Russell’s penalty late on it made the score 36-6, and ultimately 36 unanswered points for Castleford, just a week after losing 36-0.