Castleford made their welcome return to league rugby on Saturday with a hard fought victory against Halifax Vandals. Two pre-season victories against higher league opposition put Cas in confident mood but from the opening exchanges it was clear that Halifax had come to spoil the party.
The early possession was all Halifax, but Cas defended resolutely which they had to do all afternoon. Penalties were traded in the first 15 minutes, one from Thomas Egan unfortunately cancelled out by two from Halifax.
Cas were now having more of the possession and as we marched up field quick ball on the blind side saw new skipper Karl Del Rosario draw the defence and release rampaging prop Oliver Arundel just outside the 22 and he wasn't going to be stopped. Egan added the extras.
Halifax came straight back at us, their scrum was causing some concern however the defending from all the team was solid and they were kept away from our try line.
Just after the half hour Cas secured a good period of possession and, when the backs were finally on the front foot great handling along the line saw Laurence Stevens score in the corner.
The rest of the half belonged to Halifax with Cas putting their bodies on the line. Cas conceded yet another penalty for Halifax to pull closer and with the halftime whistle looming the Cas line was under siege. Halifax profited from a poor restart and only a brilliant last ditch tackle from Egan stopped a certain try. Halifax were kept at bay and with time running out they came again only for them to be held up and much to Cas' relief the whistle was blown.
The second half started as we had finished and penalties were exchanged. Most of the action was in the middle of the field as both sets of players gave everything to make a break.
Cas were the next to do so when Egan went on a weaving run drawing the defence and releasing Desmond McSweeney who raced in from 35 meters out. Egan converting from the side line.
Halifax threw everything at Cas, eventually breaking through to score with two minutes to go reducing the gap to 9 points.
Considering the length of time without league rugby it was a decent start to the season, things identified to work on but loads of positives and the all important win.
Castleford 28 19 Halifax Vandals