Tigers defeated by Hull comeback
Posted: Thursday 13th June 2019 - 9:44 PM
The Tigers missed the chance to leapfrog Hull FC on the Betfred Super League table as a second half comeback secured a 31-18 victory for the visitors.
Castleford were boosted by the returns of Jesse Sene-Lefao to the starting line up and prop Junior Moors on the bench for the top-five shootout at the Mend-A-Hose Jungle and raced into a 14-4 lead at half-time only to be overhauled by the Black and Whites after the break.
As in last week’s Golden Point victory over Huddersfield, the Tigers began the game brightly in slippery conditions and edged the early battle for territory with both sides content to complete their sets. Their first real opportunity to mount some pressure on the Hull line was squandered through a Jake Trueman forward pass inside the opening 10 minutes, whilst FC’s chance was stopped by a brilliant catch from Greg Minikin under pressure, before he posted the game’s first try just minutes later.
It was the centre’s superb leap to collect Albert Kelly’s high kick that got the Tigers on the front foot deep inside their own half before a strong carry from Mike McMeeken earned a penalty. From there, Cas swung it first left and then right as Jordan Rankin and Peter Mata’utia linked up to send Minikin through a gap for the opening score, although Hull hit straight back after Jake Connor’s classy offload sent Ratu Naulago in at the corner to level matters at 4-4.
Things remained tight between two evenly matched sides before Cas regained control approaching the break. Two Mata’utia penalty goals nudged them back in front as they started to turn the screw before the full back played a big part in his side’s second try of the evening. It was his pressure on Kelly which forced the Hull half back to spill Trueman’s low grubber in the shadow of his own posts, with Moors on-hand to regather for the score shortly after coming onto the field. Mata’utia’s goal took the lead out to 14-4 and that was the way it remained at half-time despite some late forays from the Black and Whites.
The second half began in much the same fashion as the first but this time it was Hull who posted the first points. The Tigers squandered good field position with an inaccurate kick on the last and FC needed no second invitation, especially after a penalty marched them up field. After first forcing a drop out, they made their repeated possession count as a slick handling move to the right edge saw Naulago dive in for his second, Sneyd’s touchline conversion cutting the gap to four points.
Cas mounted a response when Cheyse Blair nailed Jamie Shaul in his in-goal to force another set, but Minikin was adjudged to have lost possession four tackles later. From the scrum, Hull counter-attacked as Kelly finished off a long-distance move again started by Connor, with Sneyd’s easier goal attempt this time nudging FC in front for the first time at 16-14.
It was proving to be an absorbing encounter despite the conditions and the end-to-end nature continued as Blair went close to posting his first try in Cas colours with a marauding run down the left eventually halted by three defenders. Hull them nudged themselves further ahead with a Sneyd penalty goal but the Tigers had spotted space against FC’s right edge and they went that way once more on their next set. This time Trueman and Mata’utia combined to give Blair a touch more space and he handed on to Eden to step back inside for a fantastic finish.
Mata’utia missed the opportunity to retake the lead as his conversion attempt drifted wide to leave the scores at 18 apiece, only for Hull to go back in front with 14 minutes remaining as Kelly went in for his second converted try of the night, FC getting the nod from the video referee. Shaul then had what would have been a decisive score chalked off as that once again went upstairs as the Tigers remained a glimmer of hope of a second comeback at the Mend-A-Hose Jungle in a week.
With the game in the balance heading into the final 10, it was waiting for a decisive moment from either side and unfortunately for the Tigers it came from the visitors. Once again, it epitomised the speed at which momentum changed from one end of the field to another, with Cas desperately close to going over for their fourth try of the night. It was Eden who was inches away from his second score but he couldn’t gather in Blair’s pass at full speed with the line gaping and to make matters worse, FC again struck on the counter as Naulago raced clear with the loose ball before handing on to Kelly to complete his hat-trick.
With the result in the bag by this stage, it remained for Sneyd to add salt into the wound with a late drop goal, Cas left to rue another missed opportunity for Blair in an inaccurate second half display.
Full Time: Castleford Tigers 18-31 Hull FC
Mata’utia, Clare, Minikin, Blair, Eden, Trueman, Rankin, Watts, McShane, Smith, Sene-Lefao, McMeeken, Massey
Millington, Milner, Moors, Cook
Tries: Minikin, Moors, Eden
Conversions: Mata’utia (1/3)
Penalties: Mata’utia (2/2)
Shaul, Naulago, Connor, Buchanan, Faraimo, Kelly, Sneyd, Green, Houghton, Paea, Minichiello, Hadley, Westerman
Taylor, Washbrook, Fash, Savelio
Tries: Kelly (3), Naulago (2)
Conversions: Sneyd (4/5)
Penalty: Sneyd (1/1)
Drop goal: Sneyd
*Match report by Matt Holden
**Photography by Simon Hall
*** Golden Gamble winner: 05363
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