Wigan Warriors moved level with Hull FC at the top of the Super League table with a 33-26 victory against Castleford Tigers – their third win in a row.
Josh Charnley and Sam Tomkins scores and three Matty Smith goals had Wigan up at the break, with Paul McShane and Denny Solomona tries in reply.
Dom Manfredi crossed with Tigers’ Jake Webster in the sin-bin after half-time.
The two sides then traded two tries apiece before Smith’s drop goal created an unassailable two-score lead.
Hull can pull clear again at the summit if they beat St Helens, but this victory maintains the Warriors bid to finish top after 23 regular rounds.
Tomkins stands up
Sam Tomkins, who scored in only his third outing back after injury, made a crucial cover tackle to deny Solomona a hat-trick.
Luke Dorn might have pulled another try back late on but his effort was chalked off by the video referee, as was an effort from Solomona in the opening 40 – while Wigan’s Ryan Sutton might have added further insult to injury had his late try been awarded.
Castleford had won the previous two home games against Wigan, but had also lost the past three meetings in total and their recent three-match league and cup winning revival was stemmed here.
The Tigers fought back from 14-0 to win against Warrington at the Magic Weekend but they were unable to complete the same heroics against Shaun Wane’s side, who had enough to keep them at bay.
Both sides contributed much to a game that had some smart tries and a bit of needle, notably when John Bateman and Dorn clashed in the first-half.
It was also an intriguing battle between England half-back rivals Luke Gale and Matty Smith, who both shone for their respective sides although it was the latter who sealed the game with his prolific boot.
Castleford Tigers head coach Daryl Powell told BBC Radio Leeds:
“The manner of what went on tonight was really disappointing, we fell away after half-time we were down to 12 men and were rattled, we conceded a real soft try and that was one of the defining moments.
“I can’t quite get my head around some of the things, the manner of the referee was really poor to the players so there’s something that needs to be done.
“The referee had a big impact all the way through it and I thought he lost his cool and that’s something referees can’t do. It was hostile out there, but I don’t think we got a 50-50 call all night.
“At times we conceded some soft tries, the one just after half-time was a real soft one. I can’t understand that video referee call with the Luke Dorn try was chalked off.
“There were loads of good things out there, we were excellent in loads of areas, some of the things we did with the ball.”
Wigan head coach Shaun Wane told BBC Radio 5 live Sports Extra:
“We weren’t great, some of the detail in contact and attack was off but we played tough and took our chances. We were worthy of the win.
“Sam [Tomkins] did some good things and bombed a couple of things so there are always improvements to make.
“We trained on a smaller pitch all week, as soon as you give a penalty they’re in good ball and they throw a lot at you, you have to defend your line. We were just looking at the one-percenters.
“One of my worst days was when we lost here and my team gave in so to get a win against a form team here is satisfying.”
Castleford Tigers: Dorn; Flynn, Crooks, Webster, Solomona; McShane, Gale; Patrick, Milner, Millington, Moors, McMeeken, Jewitt.
Replacements: Tickle, Springer, Hampshire, Cook.
Wigan: S. Tomkins; Manfredi, Sarginson, Gildart, Charnley; Williams, Smith; Crosby, Powell, Flower, Bateman, Isa, J. Tomkins.
Replacements: Mossop, Tautai, Sutton, Burke.
Referee: Ben Thaler (RFL)