After an interesting opening round, the Super 8s-Super League are in full swing with the battles in the league table thinning out a touch after this weeks quartet of games.
Thursday's round opener came from the Mend-A-Hose Jungle as fifth placed Castleford hosted sixth placed Warrington Wolves with the visitors knowing that a defeat would leave them needing a miracle to reach the top four.
The Tigers struck first with talismanic winger Justin Carney scoring a 17th minute opener which Luke Gale converted for 6-0 before Michael Shenton made it five tries in two games with a 28th minute effort for 10-0. Warrington responded with a try from Richie Myler on 33 minutes with Chris Sandow converting for 10-6 but Castleford went into the interval with a six point lead after a late Gale penalty for 12-6.
Carney claimed his second try just three minutes after the restart for 16-6 and the game began to tighten up with the next points not registered until the 70th minute when Myler scores his second try for 16-10. Kevin Penny ensured a tense finish with a 78th minute try which when converted by Sandow levelled the score at 16-16. Alike their win over St Helens, Castleford left it until the last second to claim victory with a drp goal but this time around from the boot of Liam Finn who kicked for a 17-16 triumph.
Friday's headline game came from Headingley Carnegie as table toppers Leeds Rhinos hosted second placed Wigan Warriors with the hosts looking to open up a four point gap on the chasing pack.
Leeds made a perfect start as Danny McGuire crossed inside three minutes with Kevin Sinfield converting for 6-0 but wary of Leeds' traditional great starts, Wigan replied rapidly with Liam Farrell crossing on seven minutes for 6-4. Two quick scores put the hosts in control at 14-4 with Joel Moon crossing ahead of a conversion and penalty from Sinfield.
The final seconds of the saw a controversial try for Leeds as Ryan Hall crossed to the anger of the travelling supporters who saw a clear knock-on from Sinfield in the build-up but after review the score was awarded (has since been revealed the decision was an error) and Sinfield converted for a 20-4 half-time advantage.
Wigan cut the gap on the hour with Farrell's second effort for 20-8 but a Kallum Watkins try and Zak Hardaker drop goal in the space of three minutes put the Rhinos ahead 25-8. Wigan battled back but took until the 72nd minute to dent the lead with John Bateman crossing and Matty Bowen converting for 25-14 before a late try from Dom Manfredi for a 25-18 final score.
The second of three games on Friday came from the John Smith's Stadium as fourth placed Huddersfield hosted eighth placed Catalans Dragons with the Giants looking to sure up fourth spot.
Catalans have the worst form of the top eight teams but got off to a good start with 19th minute try from Willie Tonga which Krisnan Inu converted for 6-0. Huddersfield responded superbly with three tries in the final ten minutes of the half with Jack Hughes, Aaron Murphy and Jermain McGillvary all crossing with Danny Brough converting twice for a 16-6 lead into the into the interval.
Brough added two penalties in the 49th and 62nd minuted to move the lead to 14 points at 20-6 before a second try from McGillvary on 73 minutes sealed the win at 24-6. Catalans had the last say on the scoreline as Todd Carney crossed in the final minute with Inu converting for a 24-12 final score.
The third of Friday's trilogy came from Langtree Park as third placed St Helens hosted seventh place Hull FC with Saints looking to go second and FC hoping to bost their top four hopes.
A tight first 20 minutes saw the sides remain scoreless before the deadlock was broken by Luke Thompson on 23 minutes with Luke Walsh converting to put the hosts 6-0 up. FC replied with a try from Curtis Naughton with Marc Sneyd levelling with the conversion before two tries from Adam Swift and James Roby which Walsh converted sent Saints into the interval ahead at 18-6.
Tom Lineham and Joe Westerman crossed within 15 minutes of the restart with a double conversion from Sneyd closing the gap to 18-16 before Jamie Shaul put the visitors ahead on 65 minutes with Sneyd's conversion making it 22-18. Naughton ran riot to complete his hat-trick with two tries in four minutes with a single conversion from Sneyd pushing the lead to 14 at 32-18. Saints cut the gap with two minutes to go through Mark Percival but at 32-22, fell to defeat and remain behind Wigan in third.