HULL FC coach Lee Radford missed last night’s game at Castleford Tigers due to illness and his health will not have improved when he heard the result.
Despite a hat-trick from Hull winger Tom Lineham, it was Castleford who secured a second successive win and, to make matters worse for Hull at the start of derby week, both Marc Sneyd and Chris Green left the action in the second half due to injury.
Hull could not have given much more in terms of effort, but Castleford were slightly more clinical and deserved the points, which lifted them to seventh in the Super League table, by virtue of scoring four tries to three.
Once again it was scrum-half Luke Gale who called the shots for the home team, scoring a brace of tries and adding two conversions.
Hull – with Andy Last, Gareth Ellis and Richard Horne in charge – rallied from 12-4 down to lead briefly in the second half, but powerful winger Justin Carney’s ninth try of the season edged Castleford back in front early in the final quarter.
Both Gale’s tries were out of the top drawer and the first illuminated a drab first half, which was in sharp contrast to a thrilling second.
Grant Millington, a real workhorse in the middle of the field for Castleford, showed there’s more to his game than sheer effort by popping out a magnificent offload which found Gale in support.
He seemed penned in behind Hull’s defensive wall, but a burst of acceleration took him through the line and he dashed between the posts to make his own conversion a formality.
Castleford were full value for their lead at that stage, having dominated the early stages on the back of a series of penalties.
Hull’s defence stood strong for the most part though, particularly when Jordan Rankin made a fine try-saving tackle on Jake Webster.
There should have been no way of keeping winger James Clare out when he received Gale’s long pass close to the line, but he spilled the ball as he attempted to dive over.
Castleford got over the line a second time when Millington touched down, but referee Matt Thomason had already spotted a knock-on by Carney.
The amount of defence done by Hull in the first half an hour could have taken its toll, but the visitors found a second wind to finish the half the stronger.
Sneyd, the half-back signed from Salford after spending last season on loan at Castleford, almost created a try when he dabbed through a low kick, which was taken by Lineham, only for the winger to be crashed into touch by Carney and the impressi ve Jordan Tansey.
Jack Logan had a touchdown ruled out for obstruction from a Sneyd kick and then the No 7 dummied into a gap and got over the line, but the ball was pulled out of his grasp by Carney.
Hull finally found a way through five minutes before the interval when Sneyd, Mark Minichiello and Steve Michaels worked the ball right to Lineham and he finished strongly at the corner, too far out for Sneyd to add the extras.
Gale’s first try was outstanding, but his second – immediately after the interval – was at least as good. Andy Lynch, one of seven players facing his former club, made the initial break, Millington’s clever footwork carried it on and Gale was in support to step over and add the extras.
Clare made a try-saving tackle on Fetuli Talanoa at the other end before Hull narrowed the gap when Lineham touched down a second time, from Danny Houghton’s long, lofted pass.
Sneyd, who was Super League’s top goal kicker last season, was again off target, but Lineham’s hat-trick, an almost identical score off the scrum-half’s pass, levelled the scores and this time the kick was good.
The lead was short-lived. Within two minutes Lineham found himself grounded as Carney barged him out of the way to power over for a trademark score, fashioned out of sheer strength and determination. Gale could not add the extras.
Castleford had both fortune and misfortune with eight minutes left when Liam Finn’s kick took a wicked bounce away from Talanoa and Clare reacted quickly to touch down, though Gale’s conversion attempt, which would have opened a two-score gap, hit a post and bounced out.
Hull kept battling away and were close to possibly snatching a share of the points, Joe Westerman and Minichiello being held up over the Castleford line on successive plays in a frantic finale.
Castleford were without Matt Cook and Nathan Massey due to suspension, plus the injured Luke Dorn. With other players nearing a return to fitness, they will feel their season is on the up.
Castleford Tigers: Tansey, Clare, Gibson, Shenton, Carney, Finn, Gale, Millington, Milner, Moors, Holmers, Webster, Wheeldon. Substitutes: Roberts, Lynch, McMeeken, Crossley.
Hull FC: Rankin, Lineham, Michaels, Logan, Talanoa, Pryce, Sneyd, Paea, Houghton, Watts, Thompson,Minichiello, Westerman. Substitutes: Hadley, Green, Bowden, Howarth.
Referee: M Thomason (Warrington).