Jake Trueman had a full debut to remember as he ran in a hat-trick of tries to make light of the absence of influential half-back Luke Gale to guide Castleford Tigers to a comfortable 38-20 victory at Wigan Warriors.
England international Gale needed emergency surgery to remove his appendix earlier this week which could rule him out for the rest of the season, including the World Cup in Australia, New Zealand and Papua New Guinea, but Trueman ensured he could plug the gap with a wonderful display on his first start for the club.
The 18-year-old had a hand in the opening try of the match with a neat kick which found the hand of Greg Eden to touch down for his 41st try of the season before he ran in three tries in 17 minutes to put Tigers 20-0 ahead at half-time.
Greg Minikin crossed to extend their lead in the 46th minute before Wigan finally got on the scoreboard through winger Tom Davies with Sam Tomkins dotting down shortly afterwards to give the Warriors a glimmer of hope at 26-10.
FT: Wigan 20-38 Tigers— Castleford Tigers (@CTRLFC) September 17, 2017
The Tigers claim a victory thanks to a hat-trick from Trueman and addition tries from Eden, Minikin (2) and Shenton. pic.twitter.com/La36rTysg6
Thomas Leuluai closed the gap to 10 points when he scooted over from close range but Castleford captain Michael Shenton touched down and a second try for Minkin secured victory for the hosts while Willie Isa scored a consolation for Wigan.
On Trueman, Tigers head coach Daryl Powell said: "I thought he was pretty nervous when I told him he would be starting but he's handled it pretty well.
"He looks comfortable and showed a lot of maturity for a young fella today.
"I was really pleased with what he is able to do and clearly you'd be confident putting him out in the field whatever the game because he handled that with assurance today."
Powell added on Gale: "It's still early days. He's not going to play against Hull obviously and he's a big doubt for the semi but we'll check as we go through the next couple of weeks."
Head coach Shaun Wane, who was paraded before kick-off alongside fellow players from Wigan's victorious 1987 World Club Challenge side, said: "I'm embarrassed that my old team-mates saw that. It was way off the standards of a team I coach.
"It came down to poor attitude. We improved in the second half but too many individuals had off days in our biggest game at the back end of the season.
"It's really disappointing. We now need favours off other teams."