Castleford climb to second
Castleford bounced back from their Tetley's Challenge Cup final disappointment with a 32-18 victory over in-form Bradford at the Mend-A-Hose Jungle.
The Tigers, beaten by Leeds at Wembley last weekend, held off a second-half comeback from the Bulls to get a victory that not only moves them up into second but also denies St Helens from clinching the League Leaders' Shield for now.
Tries from Andy Lynch, James Clare, Luke Dorn and skipper Michael Shenton helped the hosts ease into a 24-6 lead by the break.
However Bradford – looking to win four games in a row for the first time in five years – rallied as a hat-trick of tries from Lee Gaskell cut the gap down to six points with over 20 minutes to play.
Cas, though, were not to be denied a 16th league victory of an excellent campaign. Daryl Clark touched down and the two points were secured when Mark Sneyd kicked his sixth goal of the afternoon, keeping alive the possibility of Daryl Powell's side finishing the regular season on top of the table.
It was the perfect response from the Tigers after their cup heartache, Andy Lynch quickly proving they were not feeling sorry for themselves by opening the scoring after five minutes.
Castleford were celebrating again on 14 minutes after good play by Sneyd and Dorn created the space for Clare to score in the corner in acrobatic fashion.
Shenton set up the supporting Dorn to extend the lead, though the Bulls - who had already had a score for Dale Ferguson ruled out for obstruction - responded when Gaskell touched down for the first time.
But the visitors suffered a blow on the stroke of half-time as Shenton cut back inside untouched to score, Sneyd landing his fourth successful kick to make it an 18-point gap at the interval.
Despite already being relegated, Bradford showed the type of fighting spirit they will need next year in their bid to seal an automatic return to the top flight.
Gaskell went over for an almost identical try to his first-half effort two minutes after the break and quickly completed his treble when he rounded Dorn to score under the posts.
Luke Gale - playing against his future employers having already agreed a deal to move to Castleford - landed his third successful conversion attempt to bring the Bulls right back into the contest.
They strived to pull level, and would have done so had Jamal Fakir not fumbled just yards from the posts.
The missed opportunity proved crucial as Warroungton-bound Clark showed just what the Tigers fans will be missing next season with a brilliant 80-metre try after taking a quick penalty tap.
Sneyd converted again and then knocked over a late penalty to seal the result in favour of Castleford, who now find themselves four points back of leaders Saints with two rounds to play.