Hull KR 14 Castleford Tigers 42: Tigers quickly suffocate Robins' optimism

IN TERMS of responses, this was as emphatic and fulsome as they come from Castleford Tigers.

Kieran Gill opens the scoring for Castleford Tigers with their first try in the 42-14 Super League victory over Hull Kingston Rovers (Picture: Matthew Merrick/RL Photos).

They had fully eight days to stew over a woeful home defeat to St Helens and were left in no uncertain terms by coach Daryl Powell that they needed to at least rediscover some character last night.

They did more than that; the ruthless West Yorkshire side were 22-0 ahead at Hull KR after just 18 minutes having utterly destroyed their stunned hosts.

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Admittedly in that early period Rovers were as shambolic as Castleford were unforgiving.

Castleford Tigers' Alex Foster celebrates scoring his side's third try against Hull KR on Friday night. Picture: Matthew Merrick/RL Photos

Indeed, as their brittle defence broke time and time again, their own coach Tim Sheens must have wondered if this really was essentially the same team that had fought so hard to stun Wigan 24-8 only a week before.

In that game Rovers conceded just one try to raise hopes that they will successfully get out of the bottom four. Last night they conceded four tries in the first quarter alone.

In fairness, Castleford did not have to work too hard for their dominance either although the hosts did eventually put up some fight to limit the damage.

The visitors welcomed back Greg Eden – on his 100th Super League appearance – and Joe Wardle from injuries with the former particularly enjoying his return.

RAMPANT: Castleford Tigers' Michael Shenton goes over for try No 5 against Hull KR. Picture: Matthew Merrick/ RL Photos

He may have been Super League’s top-tryscorer from the wing last season, but Eden became the latest player to attempt to cure Castleford’s problem full-back slot – the fourth different one already this term – and he thrived in what is known to be his favoured position.

Eden created the opening try for Kieran Gill with a lovely cut-out pass on six minutes and soon after slalomed through some static Rovers defence to score after picking up a loose pass.

He was assured under the high ball and regularly chimed into the attacking line to make sure Powell – who signed Halifax full-back Quentin Laulu-Togaga’e on Thursday – has plenty to ponder.

Jamie Ellis, the stand-off who helped Rovers earn promotion last term, also had plenty of positive moments working off the back of an excellent pack effort and finished with five goals.

Arguably, though, it was 22-year-old Gill who proved the story of the night on the day it was announced Castleford had taken an option to extend the contracts of him and fellow winger Tuoyo Egodo until the end of 2019.

It was almost a year to the day that Gill ruptured his cruciate ligament after scoring a try on his Tigers debut during the win over St Helens. He has had to battle hard to recover from that and also spent spells on loan with Oldham.

However, with Greg Minikin now injured, Eden switched to No 1 and Garry Lo having left the club, he finally got his chance last night in his first game for Castleford since that debut of such mixed emotions.

Gill certainly took it as he added a second try from Ellis’s long pass in the 51st minute and, aside from one glaring fumble, generally adapted well to the higher level.

Ellis had set in motion Castleford’s third try, too, with a perfectly-timed pass that sent Alex Foster over untouched and Rovers’ wretched defence increasingly embarrassed. Aside from the obvious lack of defensive resolve, the Robins made mistake after mistake in that opening period – Adam Quinlan sailed one restart straight into touch, Junior Vaivai fumbled clearing his own lines and then compounded the error when penalised for dissent, another player blatantly blocked Paul McShane as he chased down a kick and on and on it went.

Matt Cook had no right to score from close range when they made another handling error, but the former KR forward did just that even after being injured earlier in the set. Sheens’ side – who had four changes to the squad that beat Wigan – did not even gain possession in Tigers’ 20m area until Ryan Shaw scored in the 32nd minute.

However, that was quickly rubbed out as Ellis sent Foster clear once more and Michael Shenton finished off a glorious team try for a 28-4 interval lead.

Jy Hitchcox added another on the hour mark after a fine assist from Shenton, but Chris Clarkson’s try from Maurice Blair’s ricocheting grubber and Shaw’s second were not even consolations on a dismal night for Rovers. Instead, Hitchcox added his second off a kick from McShane in his 200th Super League game as Castleford, who replace Hull FC in fourth, claimed the Roger Millward Trophy.

Hull KR: Quinlan; Shaw, Salter, Vaivai, Moss; Lee, Blair; Kavanagh, Smith, Greenwood, Clarkson, Tickle, Donaldson. Substitutes: Masoe, Scruton, Atkin, Walne.

Castleford Tigers: Eden; Gill, Foster, Shenton, Hitchcox; Ellis, Trueman; Watts, McShane, Cook, Wardle, McMeeken, Milner. Substitutes; Millington, Holmes, Massey, Sene-Lefao.

Referee: James Child (Dewsbury).