Hull Kingston Rovers v Castleford Tigers - Return to the nest can give Robins a kick-start

WITH A first competitive return to their home ground in 13 months, Hull KR are hoping they can finally get their season up and running against Castleford Tigers tonight – and take a step closer to a potential Wembley date.

Aside from Adam Milner’s testimonial, when the same clubs met a couple of months ago, Rovers have not played at Hull College Craven Park since the pandemic initially halted the sport in March last year.

It is a long time to be away from home and the hope is some old familiarity might help the East Yorkshire club gain a much-needed win.

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Tony Smith’s side do not only need a victory to progress into the Challenge Cup quarter-finals but also to break their duck for the year having lost their opening two Super League games so far.

“We’ve played a friendly there but it has been over 12 months now since we last had a competitive game so that will be good,” said Matt Parcell, KR’s Australian hooker who has been one of their bright sparks in defeats to Catalans Dragons and St Helens.

“We’ve had two losses although one was Golden Point against Catalans and we showed fight coming back against them as we did.

“The other was at Saints last week when not a lot went our way.

“But, aside from the opening 10 minutes, we defended quite well and lost quite a few players, too, so it showed a lot about us.

HOME SOIL: Matt Parcell is looking forward to a competitive return to Hull College Craven Park against Castleford Tigers. Picture: Bruce Rollinson

“It was a decent showing but we just want a win. It (Cup) would be a first win of the year and would get the confidence going.”

In direct contrast, their confident Yorkshire rivals have won their opening two games of the season and spoken of an intent to send Daryl Powell – Castleford’s long-serving coach who will join Warrington Wolves at the end of the campaign – out on a high with some silverware.

Parcell, 28, conceded: “Cas have started really well and are a pretty solid team. Ever since I’ve been over here they seem to have started the season well.

“Everyone knows their roles in that side and Paul McShane and Jake Trueman have been going really well.

FRIENDLY MEETING: Castleford Tigers and Hull KR faced each other in Adam Milner's Testimonial last month. Picture: Allan McKenzie/

“We’re going to have to get on top of that early on, match their aggression and hopefully we can play some footy.

“If we can bring that attitude to defence we had last week and improve our attack, that will help.”

Parcell says the club is “devastated” for loose forward and vice-captain Elliot Minchella who has been ruled out for the rest of the season by a knee injury suffered at Saints last weekend.

It will mean more responsibility on the former Leeds Rhinos player who is currently operating in a different manner under Tony Smith.

HEAD COACH: Castleford Tigers' Daryl Powell. Picture: Jonathan Gawthorpe .

The Robins head coach has, at times, had both his hookers on the pitch, homegrown talent Jez Litten bringing his pace and dynamism to the side as a roving 13 although the roles can switch.

It means they sometimes have a light pack on the field but Parcell said: “I enjoy it when we’re both on the field at the same time.

“Hopefully that can keep improving.

“The onus is on us when we’re both out there to lead the attack and bring energy in defence.

“Jez was playing loose most of the time last week but when we’re both out there we can take it set for set - one set I can be the more dominant nine, the next set him.

“As we go on the onus will be more on us to take the team forward and make sure it happens.”

Parcell added: “You look at teams now with their mobile 13s – Newcastle Knights have (hooker) Connor Watson playing 13 – and more teams are going for quicker games with more mobile packs.

“Tony’s not said anything yet but maybe with Mini (Minchella) now not being here for the rest of the season, it might be something we look at more going forward.”

Powell is wary of Rovers’ “unpredictable” nature but is concentrating on making sure his side do not slip up.

He maintains Warrington’s decision to announce his move on Tuesday has not caused any issues with his squad’s preparations and reiterated his only “focus” is Castleford in 2021.

Powell guided them to the final in 2014 when they lost to Leeds but have failed to get past the quarter-finals since, losing to Hull FC four times alone.

“The Challenge Cup is pretty dear to our hearts,” he conceded.

“We want to do well this season and we’ve got an important game against Hull KR. We’ve got to get that job done. The boys have been awesome this week.”

Meanwhile, Castleford have confirmed director of rugby Jon Wells is standing down and will leave the club at the end of May after three years in the role.

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