Super League: Wigan win 26-8 to secure second - but top five place under threat for Tigers
|Betfred Super League|
|Wigan (4) 26|
|Tries: Williams, Hardaker, Greenwood, Gildart, Smithies Goals: Hardaker 3|
|Castleford (2) 8|
|Tries: Blair Goals: Ellis 2|
Wigan Warriors maintained their timely winning run going into the Super League play-offs as the reigning champions racked up a 12th victory in 13 games.
But Castleford must now sweat on how Hull FC get on against leaders St Helens on Friday to determine whether they seal a top-five finish - and a place of their own in those play-offs.
A bad night for Cas was made worse by a red card for Jesse Sene-Lefao.
But, by then, rampant Wigan had already scored four of their five tries.
Jamie Ellis gave Cas an early lead with a penalty, only for Australia-bound George Williams' virtuoso try - his 14th of the season - as he sidestepped Mike McMeeken's attempted tackle to put the Cherry and Whites ahead.
Cas old boy Zak Hardaker missed the kick, but Ellis then missed two penalty chances, the second of them right on half-time when he hit the post and the touch judges ruled that it had dropped just the wrong side.
But, from only 4-2 ahead at the break, Adrian Lam's Wigan then quickly hit top gear after the restart with second-half tries from Hardaker, Joe Greenwood and Oliver Gildart.
Hardaker took advantage of a mistake from Greg Minikin before Dan Sarginson's run down the right created the attacking platform for Greenwood to score one-handed in the left corner.
After Gildart's try added gloss, the game was already done for Cas when the indisciplined Sene-Lefao was sent off by referee James Child for his needless knee in the face of the grounded Oliver Partington.
He did at least apologise on his way off, but it was a moment of madness from the youngster which may rule him out next week if Cas do get through.
Morgan Smithies' late fifth try appeared just icing on the cake for the hosts. But Cas had the last word when Cheyse Blair crossed with the game's last play, Ellis kicking the goal.
They now face an anxious Friday night wondering if Hull can cause a shock at the KCOM Stadium and earn the win that would knock Cas out of fifth place.
On a night when inspirational skipper Sean O'Loughlin came off the bench for his first appearance in six weeks, Wigan sealed their fifth top two finish in six seasons.
And the reward for that is a home 'second v third' Qualifying Final game next Friday night back at the DW Stadium against either Salford or Warrington.
Wigan coach Adrian Lam:
"We weren't perfect with the ball but defensively we were unbelievably great. That and having two senior players in Ben Flower and Sean O'Loughlin back. I'm really happy they got through the game.
"I said to them at the start of the week that this is the kind of game that we want and need. I thought it would be down to two points and it actually was at half-time.
"Our try-line defence has been outstanding. We were under the pump for a long time.
"Then we went up the other end and scored. That's brilliant, so I was really proud of them."
Castleford coach Daryl Powell:
"Our attitude was great for the most part, but we just got rumbled at the start of the second half. Our attacking game was poor all night.
"It was just blunt but Wigan defended well. We are not good enough at the minute when teams are defending well against us.
"Knowing what he is like (Sene-Lefao) there is no intent in there, I don't actually think he makes contact. I don't think you can judge on intent to be honest.
"You don't really know if there is or there isn't. I don't think there was a lot of contact, I thought his knee hit the floor."
Wigan: Hardaker; French, Sarginson, Gildart, Burgess; Williams, Leuluai; Clubb, Powell, Partington, Isa, Greenwood, Smithies.
Interchanges: Byrne, Navarrete, Flower, O'Loughlin.
Castleford: Rankin; Clare, Mata'utia, Blair, Minikin; Trueman, Ellis; Watts, McShane, Millington, Sene-Lefao, McMeeken, Massey.
Interchanges: Holmes, Cook, Clarkson, Smith.
Sent off: Sene-Lefao (66).
Referee: James Child.