Castleford Tigers defeat shows Hull FC are lagging behind at start of own rebuild - James O'Brien comment

Patience and loyalty are rare commodities in modern sport where fans crave instant gratification.

The travelling supporters at Wheldon Road on Friday night displayed both traits despite seeing Hull FC slump to a 10th straight defeat, including back-to-back losses against fellow strugglers Castleford Tigers and London Broncos.

The majority of the fans packed into the Railway End stayed to give the Hull players generous applause at full-time, perhaps too generous following another insipid performance from their team.

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Castleford were worthy winners and the 30-22 scoreline flattered the Black and Whites who only started playing when the game was gone.

Whether the supporters are now programmed to accept defeat or they have hope for the future following the appointment of John Cartwright days earlier, it was an act of unity that Hull need more of as they negotiate a rocky road.

The club are playing the long game, safe in the knowledge that they cannot be relegated under the new grading system introduced by IMG.

Rightly or wrongly, the Airlie Birds can plan for the future while accepting a few blows along the way.

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What Friday's game showed is that they are at a lower ebb than Castleford, another embattled Yorkshire club.

Sam Wood celebrates Castleford's win over Hull. (Photo: Allan McKenzie/ Wood celebrates Castleford's win over Hull. (Photo: Allan McKenzie/
Sam Wood celebrates Castleford's win over Hull. (Photo: Allan McKenzie/

In some respects, Hull are going through what the Tigers experienced last year: a nightmare season that lurches from one disaster to another.

The Black and Whites endured long losing runs themselves in 2023 but were never truly in danger of finishing bottom, which would have meant relegation to the Championship.

Although the threat of relegation has been removed, avoiding the wooden spoon and the ignominy of finishing below a Broncos outfit that contains part-time players should be motivation enough for Hull.

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Whereas Castleford went from top-six contenders to relegation candidates in a matter of months, it has been a slow death for the Airlie Birds since winning back-to-back Challenge Cups.

Herman Ese'ese shows his dejection at Wheldon Road. (Photo: Allan McKenzie/ Ese'ese shows his dejection at Wheldon Road. (Photo: Allan McKenzie/
Herman Ese'ese shows his dejection at Wheldon Road. (Photo: Allan McKenzie/

Their recruitment has been poor, to put it mildly, and they have had the look of a club between eras searching for an identity.

If anything, they have earned a reputation as a team that capitulate when the going gets tough, a deep-rooted issue that will not be fixed overnight.

There will be more nights like Friday before Cartwright takes the reins at the end of the year and is joined by experienced new signings led by Leigh Leopards captain John Asiata.

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Teenage full-back Logan Moy – fresh from signing a long-term deal – highlighted why Hull are excited about the talent emerging from their youth system but they are a vulnerable team that lack confidence.

Corey Hall celebrates scoring Castleford's fifth try. (Photo: Bruce Rollinson)Corey Hall celebrates scoring Castleford's fifth try. (Photo: Bruce Rollinson)
Corey Hall celebrates scoring Castleford's fifth try. (Photo: Bruce Rollinson)

The Black and Whites were always playing catch-up after conceding two early tries and although they went into half-time only 18-10 behind thanks to efforts from Harvey Barron and Liam Sutcliffe, there was a sense that Castleford would pull away.

So it proved with Jason Qareqare and Corey Hall going over in the space of five minutes to end Hull's hopes of a second victory of 2024.

The Airlie Birds rallied to give the Tigers something to think about in the closing stages but the fans had only tries from Tiaki Chan and Jake Trueman to comfort them as they made their way back across the M62.

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They did their best to remain positive and that mindset was shared by interim boss Simon Grix who is doing all he can to raise spirits.

"We need to be better for longer but London was the lowest point so far," he said in his post-match press conference.

"We didn't look like a team that was committed to each other or the badge. Tonight they certainly looked committed so it is a step forward even if it's not the result we wanted."

Craig Lingard enjoys the win over Hull. (Photo: Allan McKenzie/ Lingard enjoys the win over Hull. (Photo: Allan McKenzie/
Craig Lingard enjoys the win over Hull. (Photo: Allan McKenzie/

While Hull are at their lowest point since 1999, Castleford continue to show signs of progress under Craig Lingard after flirting with the drop last year.

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The Tigers have freshened up an ageing squad and are creating a team that the Wheldon Road faithful can get behind.

Their decision to sign hungry, unproven players was never going to be a universal success but Castleford will be encouraged by the early performances of the likes of Innes Senior, Sam Wood and Rowan Milnes.

The Tigers took a chance on Hull reject Tex Hoy and the Australian full-back is repaying them, scoring a classy try against his old club to highlight his talent.

All the while academy products such as Qareqare, Sam Hall and George Hill are gaining valuable experience and becoming more assured at the top level.

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Castleford are now five points clear of the bottom two and can start to look up rather than down.

It will not be plain sailing – as evidenced by three thumping home defeats – but their approach is bearing fruit.

At a time when positives among Yorkshire’s Super League clubs are in short supply, small wins are not to be sniffed at.

"I've sat here before when we've lost and sulked, moaned and pretty much cried so you've got to enjoy these wins," said Lingard.

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"We've got to make sure we don't get carried away because it's one victory but we moan and sulk when we lose so let's enjoy a win.

"After the second-half performance against Saints where we were pretty abysmal, it's good to bounce back and win a game, albeit we weren't great all the way through the game.

"That's where we are as a team. We're not the finished article by any stretch of the imagination so we're going to have good periods and bad periods in games.

"It's about coming through the other side which I thought we did today."

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