Castleford Tigers win opener against Toronto Wolfpack

Castleford Tigers win opener against Toronto Wolfpack
LEEDS, ENGLAND - FEBRUARY 02: Grant Millington of Castleford Tigers scores his teams second try of the match during the Betfred Super League match between Toronto Wolfpack and Castleford Tigers at Emerald Headingley Stadium on February 02, 2020 in Leeds, England. (Photo by George Wood/Getty Images)

With the Castleford Tigers win ‘somewhat’ taking away some of the gloss of the Toronto Wolfpacks debut Super Rugby fixture, credit should be given to both teams.

The Tigers v Wolfpack game took place last Sunday at Emerald Headingley Stadium, Leeds. There, the Wolfpack opened their Super League account with a disappointing 28-10 loss to the Castleford Tigers.

Scoring the first and last tries in the game, the visitors might not feel they represented themselves to the fullest. However, the Tigers scored four tries and a penalty kick and won rightly so, 28-10. Much of the game in this game was determined in the first half.

It was not that the Wolfpack was not playing at the Tigers level. They were playing well but were riddled with mistakes and errors. To the Tigers’ credit, they took advantage of the Wolfpack’s mistakes and took an 18-point lead into the first half. A lead they would not relinquish.

The Toronto Wolfpack v. Castleford Tigers came was determined largely in the first half.

Positives for the Toronto Wolfpack to takeaway

The Toronto Wolfpack started the game on a positive note putting the Castleford Tigers under pressure. They scored the first try with great passing that led to Liam Kay’s try. The Wolfpack should be looking at achieving this goal for every Super League team they play against. That way, the Wolfpack can put the other team under pressure to respond, which may cause them to get frustrated or flustered. Some players impressed the viewers including Maloudi and Liam Kay.

Players that made an Impression – Hakim Miloudi, and others

Hakim Miloudi was the best player for the Wolfpack in their first-ever Super League game. Not only was he instrumental in Liam Kay’s try at the start of the game, but he stole the ball and ran many metres to score his first try in the second half.

Other impressive players were Josh McCrone who made a try-saving play in the first half and Liam Kay, who scored the Wolfpack’s first try. Saying that there are things to improve on like not turning over the ball and discipline.

Things to improve on – Not turning over the Ball

In the future, the Wolfpack must not turn over the ball against Super League sides in critical situations too often. They saw first-hand how much it could hurt them in a game. In this game, it was a swing of 16 to 18 points to Castleford’s favour.

In particular, an errant pass by McCrone that could have led to a Wolfpack try, instead resulted in a Castleford Tigers Greg Eden try. If they can clean that up the Wolfpack should win lots of games and be competitive against many Super League teams.

There were a lot of penalties against the Toronto Wolfpack at the end of the first half. The Sky Sports announcers made a case that Championship teams getting promoted to Super League have trouble keeping their discipline intact. That is something the Wolfpack should look at. Head coach Brian McDermott will need to encourage his men, work on their micro-skills and continue to improve on this season opener.

Sonny Bill Williams of Toronto Wolfpack talks with his manager, Brian McDermott after the Betfred Super League match between Toronto Wolfpack and Castleford Tigers at Emerald Headingley Stadium on February 02, 2020 in Leeds, England. (Photo by George Wood/Getty Images)

Lastly, and this is a reminder to both fans than players, Super League is a different animal compared to Championship and League 1 as they are all full-fledged professional sports teams.

Super League is not like the Championship or League 1

It will be hard to keep a view in perspective when one looks at the last few years of Wolfpack history.

  • The Wolfpack finished with 20 wins, one tie, and one loss in League 1.
  • In their second season and first year at the Championship, they finished the regular season with a record of 20 wins, one tie, and two losses.
  • The year they got promoted to Super League they record of 26 wins, and one tie and one loss in the Championship regular season.

Used to success coming easily – this year, the side must not get ahead of themselves.

The fact of the matter is that Super League is a different beast than the Championship and League 1. A lot of teams in the lower leagues are mostly part-time teams. Players in these leagues are working and playing footy at the same time just to create a living for themselves.

When facing the Toronto Wolfpack, they were playing a team that was paid and treated as full-time professionals. The Castleford Tigers may have a lot of injuries, but they finished sixth in Super League. This was good enough to make it the Super League playoffs.

But, that was then. Now, the sides are tougher to defeat.

Last weekend, the Canadian franchise came up against a side who were more established. The Castleford Tigers win was as much by experience, as it was through action. And it showed in how many of the visiting players performed – even big-name signings like Sonny Bill Williams.

Somewhat of a valuable lesson to learn, after years of success.

Toronto Wolfpack’s next Super League match schedule

The Toronto Wolfpack will play the Salford Red Devils on Saturday, February 8 at AJ Bell Stadium. A second away game, and the Wolfpack need to prepare themselves for a prolonged season of travel.

Knowing their opponents, the Wolfpack have played the Salford Red Devils twice before. One was at the Super 8’s qualifiers in 2018, and they played in the Challenge Cup in 2017, where Wolfpack lost both games to the Red Devils. This is one of the teams to watch out for – as mentioned in a previous article.

The Red Devils will look to redeem themselves as well as they lost 48-8 to defending Super League champions St. Helens R.F.C.

In round three, they will then go to Wigan to play the Wigan Warriors at DW Stadium on Thursday, February 13. The first home match for the Wolfpack fans is not until round five – February 29.

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Follow all the action through the 2020 season, with Raheem Bashir and Last Word on Rugby.

 

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