Toronto Wolfpack Defeat Castleford Tigers in Pre-Season Friendly

Toronto Wolfpack have taken to the field for the first time in 2020, claiming a tight 16-10 victory over Castleford Tigers in a pre-season friendly at Mend-A-Hose Jungle in West Yorkshire.

The fixture, designed to bring crucial match fitness to players as the marquee opening round approaches, also served as a testimonial match for Tigers captain Michael Shenton. A legend of UK Rugby League, Shenton is closing in on 400 professional appearances and a parochial crowd was on hand to honour his stellar career in proud service of Castleford.

The Wolfpack fielded a strong 18-man squad for the encounter, with new recruits James Cunningham and Brad Singleton both pulling on a Toronto jersey for the first time. High-profile signing Sonny Bill Williams made the trip to England’s North but did not take the field for his debut appearance.

Both teams will be delighted with the opportunity to start the engine in 2020 as preparations for a marathon Super League campaign gains steady momentum. To have a full 80 minutes on the field in a fiercely competitive environment will undoubtedly prove invaluable to both sides. 

Speaking after the game, the Wolfpack’s most capped player, Adam Sidlow, discussed the journey the team have taken to be on the precipice of a maiden season in the top division.

“From signing on in League 1 and not knowing where you’re at, where you’re going in Canada… to be where we’re at now, in SuperLeague, and to get that first win in a pre-season friendly… we’re ecstatic at the minute. Long may it continue.”

James Cunningham also gave an insight into how tight the Wolfpack group have become and their excitement for what is to come.

“It was a tough game but we managed to grind out the win so I couldn’t be happier. I couldn’t ask for a nicer group of lads to play with, it really makes you want to play for the team. I just can’t wait to get stuck in now. These games are good but you can’t beat the real thing. You can’t beat when the season starts.”

In a back and forth encounter, either team could have secured the win had certain moments fallen their way but it was the Wolfpack who ended the game ahead. An exciting contest throughout, the result wasn’t decided until the dying seconds when Tigers halfback Paul McShane came within millimetres of scoring a try that would have changed the outcome of the clash.

Gareth O’Brien, Joe Mellor and Blake Wallace all registered four-pointers for the Wolfpack while O’Brien and Wallace shared the kicking duties. For Castleford, Danny Richardson and Sosaia Feki did the heavy lifting in the pages of the scorebook, bringing their side to the brink of victory thanks to standout performances.

The two sides now return to their camps to fine tune preparations for the Super League opening weekend, less than a fortnight away. Toronto and Castleford will again face off, this time with league points up for grabs, on February 2 at Headingley Stadium in a double-header also featuring Leeds Rhinos and Hull FC. Kick-off is 2.30pm local time and tickets are available now by clicking here.

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