Hull FC 48 Castleford Tigers 6: Emphatic Hull thrash toothless Tigers

THEIR late improvement will probably come too late to affect the Super League play-offs but Hull FC, with Jake Connor in such excellent form, are starting to find their rhythm under Andy Last.

This destruction of hapless Castleford Tigers, which featured two tries for the exciting winger Ratu Naulago, was a third success in four outings and takes their win percentage up to 50 per cent.

Admittedly, with just four games remaining, it is hard to see them overhauling Catalans Dragons in fourth, who sit on 66.67 per cent.

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However, they do head to Perpignan on Thursday so a win then might make things interesting.

Whatever happens, interim coach Last can say he has led a Hull team to victory at the KCOM Stadium as he finally took charge of a home game, seven months after their last outing here ended in Lee Radford’s sacking.

“I whispered it quietly to some of the lads at training saying that, even though there’s no fans, I’m a Hull lad, a fan all my life, and I want to get a win in my first game here,” he said.

“Bureta Faraimo and Carlos (Tuimavave) told me they’d sort it, not to worry. It probably was our best performance of the year.”

Freefalling Castleford, who have now lost eight of their nine games since the end of lockdown, are certainly fed up of seeing them.

Hull FC's Andre Savelio takes on Castleford Tigers' Jake Trueman. (Ash Allen/SWpix.com)

This was the third time Last’s side have beaten them in recent weeks and this was the most convincing victory of all, Tigers only saving themselves the embarrassment of a whitewash with Jacques O’Neill’s try as late as the 72nd minute.

Rampant Hull FC were 24-0 up in as many first half minutes.

They were ruthless with their approach and played at a pace, especially in the middle, that saw Castleford - even with fit-again half-backs Jake Trueman and Danny Richardson finally back in tandem - chasing shadows at times.

Joe Cator continued his excellent form at loose forward while Andre Savelio continually smashed holes through the visitors and Ligi Sao was impressive, too.

Hull FC's Manu Ma'u scoring his side's eighth and final try against Castleford Tigers. (Ash Allen/SWpix.com)

It was no wonder Connor was able to enjoy arguably his best match yet as Hull’s stand-off.

He had performed well in last week’s win over Huddersfield Giants but raised his game to another level here, almost surgical with his precision as he pulled Castleford apart.

Knowing Albert Kelly is fit again and waiting in the wings - the Australian did not make the 17 - is perhaps firing Connor on further or maybe the fact he turned 26 today merely means he is maturing at last.

His short kicking game was excellent and he gave Brad Graham, the young winger making his Super League debut, a torrid time.

That said, as is so often the case in this wretched run, much of Castleford’s undoing was down to their own mistakes.

Gareth O’Brien fumbled when returning a kick in their set and Hull instantly capitalised, Connor launching his first kick for Ratu Naulago to rise above Day and score.

A high tackle then saw then concede more territory and this time it was Savelio who could not believe how much space he had to work in as he eased through a gap from 20m out and easily beat O’Brien.

When Manu Ma’u finally spilled a pass, you could sense the relief spread over Castleford who, in fairness, should then have reduced the advantage.

Trueman, finally returning from a back injury that has plagued him so much since the sport resumed, made a break and found Michael Shenton.

The Castleford captain waited for support but as Day arrived, the young winger cut infield and Shenton - who could have gone in himself - passed outside to no one.

Trueman did force a drop-out but Connor showed he is not just an attacking threat, shooting out of the line to pressure the Castleford half-back into a poor kick.

It was an important intervention; moments later, after Savelio had made another burst, Connor capitalised as Shenton spilled Marc Sneyd’s kick at the other end.

Jack Sanderson dawdled fielding Sneyd’s next long-range kick which saw Josh Griffin’s excellent kick-chase force another drop-out.

From there, Connor launched a no-look kick that Griffin palmed down for Ma’u to feed Bureta Faraimo, the winger who bullied his way over Richardson to score.

Sneyd converted every try for that 24-0 interval lead and, though the West Yorkshire club started the second period with more resolve, it did not change the end result.

The injured Jamie Shaul did not return for the second half but it did not matter to Hull.

Naulago rose high and at speed to claim Richardson’s kick in the 54th minute and then speed 90m to score untouched in the 54th minute.

When a befuddled Sanderson saw Sneyd’s kick slip through his grasp, Hull earned a 40/20 that saw Danny Houghton add to Castleford’s misery.

O’Neill responded but Carlos Tuimavave weaved through some feeble defence and then, even after the final hooter sounded, Hull did not let upo, Sneyd’s kick bouncing wickedly to furnish Ma’u with their eighth try.

Sneyd had converted all seven tries but Connor kicked the last one as Castleford suffered their biggest defeat of the year.

Hull FC: Shaul; Naulago, Tuimavave, Griffin, Faraimo; Connor, Sneyd; Bowden, Johnstone, Sao, Savelio, Ma’u, Cator. Substitutes: Satae, Houghton, Fash, Brown.

Castleford Tigers: O’Brien; Sanderson, Foster, Shenton, Day; Trueman, Richardson; Massey, McShane, Hepi, Blair, McMeeken, Milner. Substitutes: Millington, Sene-Lefao, O’Neill, Cook.

Referee: Marcus Griffiths (Widnes)