AS EXPECTED, Castleford Tigers secured their Super League semi-finals place for a second successive season but, bizarrely, it is perhaps Hull FC who gleaned more from last night’s contest.
Lee Radford’s side suffered a record-extending eighth successive defeat but after the 80-10 humiliation at Warrington Wolves, crucially, they found some character, spirit and energy to prove they won’t just whimper out the remainder of this term.
Yes, they were 28-0 down heading towards the hour mark but they continued to test their Yorkshire rivals and eventually earned their rewards.
Carlos Tuimavave scored a try their continued efforts deserved as he finished off a smart move involving Sika Manu and Jamie Shaul, before Hakim Miloudi picked up a loose kick to race in from 90m as well.
Predictably, though, Castleford had initially been far too strong for opponents missing eight first-team regulars and stuck in such a dismal run of form.
Greg Eden scored two more tries – the winger now has 10 in his last five outings – but there was plenty of other impressive showings from Daryl Powell’s side, not least Mitch Clark, the powerful prop who continues to make the most of his opportunities.
Peter Mata’utia showed some classy touches from full-back but Jake Trueman was arguably the most pleasing performer.
He may still be just 19 years-old but, with his telling kicking game and distribution, already looks like he has the temperament to help control a Grand Final, ultimately what Tigers lacked when at Old Trafford last October.
Castleford had to reshuffle when Oli Holmes was helped off with a hamstring injury in the first period, Joe Wardle switching from centre to second-row, but it did not hold them back in anyway.
That said, Hull were perhaps unlucky to be 18-0 down at the break. As is often the case with a side in such a perilous, wretched state, they had no actual luck whatsoever.
Lee Radford’s side suffered a record-extending eighth successive defeat but, crucially, they found some character, spirit and energy to prove they won’t just whimper out the remainder of this term.Dave Craven
Two of Castleford’s three tries were fortunate, to say the least.
The first, which did not come until the 18th minute, saw Trueman’s grubber nutmeg Hull’s Jordan Lane, ricocheting straight into the path of a welcoming Mike McMeeken.
Their third, late in the half, came from an FC attacking play when Liam Harris’s long pass somehow bounced off the head of Castleford captain Michael Shenton before looping into the hands of Eden, who raced 90m to score.
Admittedly, it was a poor initial pass from Harris, the young half-back brought in from League 1 Doncaster in May, but few could have seen the outcome.
Harris did struggle, making a couple of other errant deliveries to waste decent attacking position, but it is hard to criticise such a fledgling, inexperienced player having to direct a struggling side so bereft of confidence.
Furthermore, his half-back partner was Miloudi, the Frenchman who is erratic at full-back let alone when given responsibility in the halves.
He sailed one kick out on the full and sometimes seemed to forget he actually had kicking duties. But, let’s not forget, Miloudi is Hull’s sixth-choice half-back.
More experienced players were just as guilty of careless errors, Shaul spilling a simple pass when Castleford looked in danger. However, Bureta Faraimo was the worst offender with an embarrassing couple of minutes.
First, the American winger fumbled cheaply when trying to play the ball in his own 20.
Still, Cameron Scott and Fetuli Talanoa combined to produce a brilliant tackle to deny Benny Roberts in the corner, further evidence Radford’s side had certainly rediscovered some doggedness after that Warrington debacle.
However, from the resulting 20m restart, Faraimo then, infuriatingly, instantly coughed the ball up again and Junior Moors powered over.
Hull did have one chance in the first period but Talanoa was pulled back for a marginally forward offload from Danny Washbrook, one of the home players who certainly gained credit with his constant attempts to get his side moving.
Eden’s second came in the 43rd minute before fellow winger James Clare produced a stunning finish.
Luke Gale missed his only conversion from five attempts but there was no more efforts as the hosts dug in.
Hull FC: Shaul; Faraimo, Scott, Tuimavave, Talanoa; Harris, Miloudi; Taylor, Houghton, Matongo, Hadley, Washbrook, Manu. Substitutes: Fash, Litten, Lane, Bienek.
Castleford Tigers: Mata’utia; Clare, Wardle, Shenton, Eden; Trueman, Gale; Watts, McShane, Millington, Holmes, McMeeken, Massey. Substitutes: Roberts, Moors, Milner. Clark.
Referee: Gareth Hewer (Whitehaven).