PRIOR to this game, the last time Castleford Tigers had actually won at Hull KR was also the last time they lifted a major trophy.
It was November 1993 that Graham Steadman, the dashing Great Britain full-back, scored a decisive try to secure a Regal Trophy third round victory in East Yorkshire.
A few months later, Castleford would go on and create one of the biggest shocks in the modern game when they utterly vanquished a star-studded Wigan in the competition’s final.
Now, more than 20 years on, there is nothing to suggest after this incident-packed win at Craven Park, that they will go on and win Super League this season even though they proudly sit joint-top this morning after maintaining their 100 per cent record with a third victory.
Obviously, they do not have any of the word-famous names like they did in that vintage, the likes of Lee Crooks, Tawera Nikau, Richie Blackmore and Steadman.
However, Daryl Powell has clearly assembled a very decent side, bursting with excellent professionals who, when adhering to their coach’s instructions, are proving mightily difficult to break down.
Equally so, the West Yorkshire club that languished in 12th last term, still have a sharp sense of strike about them too and have overcome the loss of Rangi Chase – their one marquee star – with apparent ease.
Hull KR, for all their endeavour, were left clueless and still searching for their first win of what is proving a difficult start to 2014.
For all Castleford winger Richard Owen seized his chance, scoring a hat-trick after being preferred to Kirk Dixon, the main difference between the sides last night was Liam Finn, the scrum-half who, for better or worse, was central to Castleford’s overall dominance.
His kicking game has long been lauded in the Championship during his time at Featherstone and Dewsbury and the 30-year-old – making the most of his long-awaited second chance at Super League – showed here that it certainly stands the test at the higher level too.
Powell said: “Everyone has a pop at Finn because he’s come from the Championship but I thought he was great again tonight.
“He was unlucky to be sin-binned. I didn’t see an awful lot in that. But everyone went well. Our defence was superb.”
It was Rovers though – who had secured a last-minute draw at Huddersfield on Sunday – who opened the scoring with an 11th-minute James Green try, Travis Burns converting. But once Finn took control they were always playing catch-up.
First, after Rovers messed up the restart, Owen went in for his first try and then Finn’s clever reverse chip to the right saw the winger rise and gather above an admittedly non-existent home defence. Then Finn directed another kick to the left where Frankie Mariano scored with similar comfort against his former club.
However, the Ireland captain was then involved for all the wrong reasons when he was sin-binned for an alleged chicken wing tackle on Kris Welham.
It seemed harsh. The Hull KR centre reacted furiously when his opponent tugged his arm at the end of the tackle but there seemed nothing sinister in it.
More bizarre was that referee Ben Thaler spotted the incident and brandished the yellow card for the ‘chicken wing’ yet still put the matter on report.
Even stranger was the fact Welham did not get red-carded for aiming a headbutt at an opponent after being denied short from the goalline soon after.
It had been Michael Channing and the excellent Luke Dorn who somehow thwarted the Rovers centre when a try seemed certain, demonstrating the new-found resilience Powell has instilled in his charges this term.
With Finn off, Rovers initially looked like wasting the man advantage, spluttering their way through a couple of sets with no end product. It would haunt them much more later.
However, with just 38 seconds of the half remaining, Burns’s lovely short, delayed pass sent Greg Eden easing into space and Omari Caro – who produced the heroics at Huddersfield – was on hand to finish for his third try in two games.
Unlike at the John Smith’s Stadium, though, Burns could not convert from wide out meaning Castleford held an eight-point lead at the break.
Rovers had more play in the second period but, having seen ex-Castleford prop Jonathan Walker go off injured and fellow front-rows Mick Weyman and Justin Poore missing through suspension, lacked the firepower to match the visitors’ strength.
Equally so, they had so little fluency too, their problems showing when, after three successive sets near the Castleford line, Green just dropped possession with no one near.
Mariano was harshly denied a second by the video officials before Finn – typically – got back to mop up one rare threatening Rovers kick.
It was the scrum-half who made sure when his cute short pass sent Oliver Holmes crashing over in the 67th minute, Hauraki furnishing Owen with his treble with five minutes to go and Marc Sneyd – in Dixon’s absence – slotting all five conversions.
Meanwhile, Rovers coach Craig Sandercock revealed afterwards that Jamie Langley was prevented from playing by the RFL despite passing the club’s own tests following his concussion at Huddersfield.
Hull KR: Eden; Caro, Salter, Welham, Cockayne; Burns, Keating; J Walker, J Hodgson, Green, Larroyer, Lovegrove, Costigan. Substitutes: Carlile, Cox, Horne, A Walker.
Castleford Tigers: Dorn; Owen, Channing, Shenton, Carney; Sneyd, Finn; Lynch, Clark, Huby, Mariano, Hauraki, Millington. Substitutes: Milner, Holmes, Wheeldon, Fleming.
Referee: Ben Thaler (Wakefield)