IT has taken some time but perhaps Castleford Tigers have found the perfect role for Benny Roberts.
The Samoa international has played his customary stand-off position and filled in at hooker, too, since joining from Melbourne Storm this season but only rarely maximised his talent.
Last night, however, Daryl Powell positioned the 29-year-old at full-back, which is becoming a modern trait for footballing No 6s – and he was a revelation.
Roberts’s ability to find greater space out wide and come into the line caused Rovers all sorts of problems early on to the extent they were 18-0 behind after just 14 minutes.
It was hardly the response Chris Chester wanted from his vanquished side after their embarrassing derby defeat to Hull FC at Magic Weekend.
This is Castleford, though, and, true to form, the West Yorkshire visitors offered thankful Rovers a way back into the contest.
The only thing consistent about the Tigers this term has been their lack of consistency. It infuriates Powell and showed no sign of abating last night.
After that early flurry of points, they were left hanging on at just 24-22 ahead for most of a second period Rovers dominated until Liam Finn – with their only real chance of the half – went over with eight minutes to go.
It was Hull KR’s first home loss since the opening day of the season against Leeds Rhinos but, more worryingly, they have not won anywhere now in six Super League games.
Roberts stepped his way over down the right after just seven minutes and, after Denny Solomona had added a second when sneaking high in front of full-back Ben Cockayne to steal Luke Gale’s high kick, the former Kiwi star attacked the left and produced a stunning run to send Oli Holmes in for Castleford’s third.
Gale improved all of the tries and Rovers – having seen Shaun Lunt fail a fitness test and lose prolific winger Josh Mantellato to a hip injury – looked a spent force.
However, for all Roberts’s attacking flair suits the full-back role perfectly, he has some work to do on the defensive side of the job.
He did not even get off the ground when Terry Campese launched a midfield kick meaning Albert Kelly, the livewire scrum-half returning from injury for Rovers, could do just the same as Solomona previously.
Kieran Dixon converted in Mantellato’s absence but his side quickly conceded again, Roberts, typically, arcing through another gap after taking Grant Millington’s offload and Michael Shenton providing the link for Gale who improved his own score.
Roberts, who briefly switched to full-back against Huddersfield Giants recently, almost got over himself showing he has strength as well as guile when carrying four defenders over the line with him, one of whom just held him up.
But his own wide defenders were to blame as they failed to get in the air to challenge for Campese’s next kick, superbly gathered by Dixon who notched his 11th try of the season on the half-hour.
Soon after, Ken Sio’s dart left Andy Lynch grounded and the Hull KR winger played the ball swiftly to give the excellent Kelly time and space to shrug off Gale for their third try, Dixon kicking.
Rovers were furious when they were penalised for dissent in front of their own posts with just seconds of the half remaining after complaining that referee Richard Silverwood had not stopped the clock when the hosts had rushed to form the scrum.
However, amid the mayhem, Gale struck a post with the penalty attempt but it did not stop captain Campese berating the official on the way to the changing rooms.
His side returned invigorated and, though he kicked the restart out on the full, they controlled that second period.
Dixon wasted a great chance by coming infield when the corner was begging but, after great defence denied Tony Puletua, his side did cross through Aaron Ollett in the 54th minute. Dixon’s conversion saw them trail 24-22 but they would not score again.
Solomona produced a crucial tackle on the returning Liam Salter and, though Campese threatened with a clever chip and chase, the pass – like it had been for many of his team-mates all night – was wayward as he tried to find Sio on the wing.
In the end, with a rare attack, Finn dropped a shoulder and scrambled over to ease Castleford nerves, Gale making sure.
Hull KR: Cockayne; Dixon, Welham, Salter, Sio; Campese, Kelly; Green, Budebza, Puletua, Larroyer, Blair, McCarthy. Substitutes: Donaldson, Ollett, Cox, Greenwood.
Castleford Tigers: Roberts; Gibson, Webster, Shenton, Solomona; Finn, Gale; Lynch, Milner, Millington, O Holmes, McMeeken, Massey. Substitutes: Boyle, Moors, Tansey, Maher.
Referee: R Silverwood (Mirfield).