Fords’ fall late to KR

Posted: Monday 17th May 2021 - 10:41 PM

The Fords led for nearly 75 minutes but were undone late after a strong first-half showing as they fell to their second league defeat. However there was cause for celebration despite the result as for the first time since 15th March 2020, The Mend-A-Hose Jungle welcomed fans back to the terraces.

This was already the third meeting of the Tigers and the Robins in 2021 after Adam Milner’s testimonial and a marathon Challenge Cup tie but whilst Cas edged both games, they will be mindful of the visitors’ recent form against West Yorkshire opposition, having downed both Leeds and Huddersfield in Super League this year.

Looking to make it three wins from three against today’s opposition, there was some rotation for Castleford as James Clare made his return to the line-up following a knee injury and Brad Martin’s strong showings saw him rewarded with a starting place.

The Rovers’ return to the Jungle for the first time in over a year saw a few familiar faces make an appearance as former Tigers Ben Crooks and Will Maher lined up for Tony Smith’s side, whilst Jordan Abdull and Shaun Kenny-Dowall looked to trouble the Fords’ defence as they did in their cup fixture.

Castleford kicked off to a mighty roar from the Cas faithful and immediately Hull KR showcased their free-flowing footballing style of play which has made them such an exciting watch: Ryan Hall being set away early and finding Abdull on the inside but Abdull’s pass back was pounced upon by a grateful Tigers’ defence.

Cas’ ability to turn defence into attack as after being awarded with a penalty on their own twenty-yard line, they made yards down the field and a shift to the left saw the dancing feet of Evalds draw in defenders before firing a pass to James Clare for the returning winger to touch down right in front of the Wheldon Road crowd.

After well over a year the expectant Cas crowd were vocal and cheering on their side at every turn, but the visiting Robins were relishing the hostile atmosphere and succeeding in frustrating the Tigers on the field with their quick line speed and heavy pressure.

After 15 minutes, Niall Evalds was able to further demonstrate the skills that saw him rewarded with a recent contract extension, helping to step and shake off a defender to make extra metres to put his team on the front foot, before a six again call saw the ball brought left a few phases later and the fullback was able to hold defenders before completing a routine pass to the overlapping Shenton for the captain to score and extend the advantage.

A mistake straight from the kick-off put Daryl Powell’s side under pressure as a knock-on for Cas gave Rovers possession and a bouncing ball off the defending Olpherts was thrown back across the field for Brad Takairangi to put Crooks into the corner for KR’s first points of the evening.

A series of costly penalties and blown chances with the ball were keeping the Tigers from stretching their lead and it they were made to pay for it again as Kenny-Dowall dove for the line, but managed to offload to the lurking Matt Parcell, who gathered a scrappy ball to dive over from a yard out and further cut the lead.

With the first half minutes ticking by, the home side managed to grind their way up the field and find some favourable field position after beginning so many of their sets inside their own 10-yard line. Rovers’ own ill-discipline was giving the Fords multiple chances and they were able to take one with three minutes to go: The vaunted spine of the Tigers linking up as Trueman found Richardson out the back who passed to a sweeping Evalds and the flying fullback was able to assist his third try of the half as he smuggled a ball to the waiting Olpherts who crashed over to add to his mounting 2021 tally and to pad the advantage.

A routine exchange of sets to begin the second half helped calm the nerves as the hosts looked to see out the game and make it five wins from six in the league. Their lead looked to be in danger when Hall was sent clear from halfway, but he was well marshalled by Evalds and Turner and scrambling defence on the resulting plays helped drag down Abdull on the last to sniff out the Robins’ chance.

Ryan Hall is no stranger to scoring in front of the Wheldon Road end however and the veteran winger wasn’t to be denied as a six again call had the Tigers defending deep into their own half and, some good work by Adam Quinlan saw the 2021 arrival run in for his side’s third score.

Rovers had started the better of the two sides and did well to shut down the dangerous Paul McShane off the bench. A forced wrap-around play was picked off, and saw Rowan Miles break clear and streak into the Castleford half. From there, KR’s individual talent was on full display as Kenny-Dowall and Takairangi linked up to send Crooks over for a flying finish and to level the scores.

Cas were struggling to find their feet in a choppy second half, but they were grateful for the visitors’ indiscretion handing them a lifeline: Trueman being taken out off the ball gave Danny Richardson the chance to kick a routine goal and take a narrow lead going into the final 20 minutes.

Moments later Cas nearly found themselves behind for the first time, Parcell stripping the ball from Milner one-on-one but black shirts managed to hurry back and preserve the advantage against wave after wave of Robins’ attack.

As the hooter edged closer, Rovers looked to push and keep the hosts pinned with the booming boot of Abdull and Milnes, but Evalds was equal to the task and when the red shirts were swarming with the ball, backs-to-the-wall defence from the Tigers managed to keep the Rovers at bay. Evalds again saving a certain try as he chopped down the onrushing Sims five yards out.  

For all their terrific defence, a late six again call proved their undoing, and the battered Castleford bodies were stretched too thin as Jordan Abdull managed to shrug off one defender and stumble over the line at the Wheldon Road to break Fords’ fans’ hearts. In the final few seconds, the Tigers won the ball from the short restart but the clock ran out as a spirited Rovers’ side handed them only their second defeat of the season.

Full Time: Castleford Tigers 22-26 Hull Kingston Rovers

Castleford Tigers
Evalds, Olpherts, Mata’utia, Shenton, Clare, Trueman, Richardson, Griffin, Milner, Massey, Holmes, Turner, Martin

McShane, Sene-Lefao, Smith, Peachey

Tries: Clare, Shenton, Olpherts

Conversions:  Richardson (3/3)

Goals: Richardson (2/2)


Hull Kingston Rovers
Quinlan, Crooks, Takairangi, Kenny-Dowall, Hall, Milnes, Abdul, Lawler, Parcell, King, Linnett, Johnson, Hadley

Sims, Litten, Storton, Maher

 Tries: Crooks (2) Parcell, Hall, Abdull

Conversions: Abdull (3/5)

*Match report by Sam Armstrong

**Match photography by Melanie Allatt Photography

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