Hull KR 8 Castleford Tigers 28: Watch as Daryl Powell describes Liam Watts injury torment

IT IS still only February but captain Michael Shenton has already lifted two trophies for Castleford Tigers in as many weeks.
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As much as both accolades are cherished, especially given the respective players they honour, it is silverware in October that Castleford truly have their eyes on.

It is still far too early to say whether they will be Grand Final challengers and there was certainly plenty to pick at here.

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Castleford Tigers captain Michael Shenton races away from Hull KR's Greg Minikin (PIC: JONATHAN GAWTHORPE)Castleford Tigers captain Michael Shenton races away from Hull KR's Greg Minikin (PIC: JONATHAN GAWTHORPE)
Castleford Tigers captain Michael Shenton races away from Hull KR's Greg Minikin (PIC: JONATHAN GAWTHORPE) | jpimedia

Still, a fourth win from five outings took them top of Super League, at least until Sunday, and that cannot be a bad base on which to build.

They trailed 8-6 at the break against a side missing nine first-team regulars - forwards Mitch Garbutt and Dean Hadley also came off feeling ill - yet clearly showing no lack of spirit.

However, just as Castleford did against Wakefield, Daryl Powell’s side took control at the start of the second period when their opponents were reduced to 12 men.

Here, it was Ryan Brierley who was yellow-carded.

Hull KR's Ben Crooks scored against his former club (PIC: JONATHAN GAWTHORPE)Hull KR's Ben Crooks scored against his former club (PIC: JONATHAN GAWTHORPE)
Hull KR's Ben Crooks scored against his former club (PIC: JONATHAN GAWTHORPE) | jpimedia

He nudged Grant Millington as the veteran Australian prop - who became increasingly influential picking apart the Robins defence - attempted to latch onto Jake Trueman’s grubber, denied a try-scoring opportunity

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Danny Richardson levelled with the penalty and, though Castleford did their best to continue an irascible first half habit of bombing chances, they took the lead when the scrum-half crossed himself.

Rovers did brilliantly to hold up Peter Mata’utia but Millington ran on the last tackle to slip Adam Milner over and the England flung a ball for Richardson to step over.

Oli Holmes spilled at the restart and Shaun Kenny-Dowall - who gave a fine captain’s knock for KR - surged close before finding an offload for Elliot Minchella but his team-mate could not take the pass with the line begging.

Castleford's George Griffin takes it up against Hull KR. (PIC: JONATHAN GAWTHORPE)Castleford's George Griffin takes it up against Hull KR. (PIC: JONATHAN GAWTHORPE)
Castleford's George Griffin takes it up against Hull KR. (PIC: JONATHAN GAWTHORPE) | jpimedia

It was a crucial point; soon after, and with Rovers back up to 13, Millington and loose forward Milner combined again on the lact tackle before Trueman threw a dazzling long pass for Jame Clare to produce an equally stunning one-handed finish.

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Richardson improved and maintained his 100 per cent record with a penalty to stretch Castleford further out in front, Dagger lucky to stay on after a reckless shoulder charge on Clare.

Rovers worked tirelessly but, missing so many regulars from their pack, it was obvious they would eventually be over-run, Mike McMeeken adding another try late on to seal a fourth successive defeat for the East Yorkshire club.

Castleford - who lost prop Liam Watts to a finger injury in the first half that could sideline him for six weeks - must be wondering just how they were trailing at the interval.

Castleford Tigers' James Clare produces his wonder finish. (PIC: JONATHAN GAWTHORPE)Castleford Tigers' James Clare produces his wonder finish. (PIC: JONATHAN GAWTHORPE)
Castleford Tigers' James Clare produces his wonder finish. (PIC: JONATHAN GAWTHORPE) | jpimedia

Moments before the break, with the sides level, Mata’utia had splintered Rovers down the middle - not the first visiting player to do that - with Jordan Rankin racing up to support the centre.

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However, Rankin failed to take the pass and, instead of scoring, his side were instantly forced back on the defensive as Kenny-Dowall was set free down the right edge on a lightening counter.

Oli Holmes did well to scramble back and deny the former Kiwi international and then Richardson had to desperately hack clear as a threatening kick went towards the posts.

Still, referee Chris Kendall had spotted an offside defender, calling it back to gift Brierley a simple two points and that lead.

Powell looked fuming as he marched down from the top of the main stand towards the changing rooms.

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His side, despite being far from free-flowing, had created and bombed so many chances.

At times, it seemed his side would break from deep down the middle in every set; Rankin, Trueman, McShane and Mata’utia all had success exposing Rovers’ weak middle defence to sprint clear but only McShane’s burst profited with a try.

That came in the 33rd minute when Richardson provided the link for Shenton to finish off but other chances were horribly wasted.

McMeeken spilled over the line when it seemed easier to score and he was denied again soon after although that was due to some sterner Rovers resilience.

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From the Trueman break, they had another chance but Rankin’s forced pass - again under pressure as the hosts rallied - went behind waiting winger Derrell Olpherts into touch.

They forced a drop-out only for Nathan Massey to kick forward instead of backwards when playing the ball. No wonder Powell’s face was like thunder.

Yet, despite all of this weighty evidence, Rovers were initially the more promising side before their middles eroded so badly.

They opened the scoring when Super League’s top tryscorer Ben Crooks took his season tally to seven in the sixth minute, leaping in front of a static Olpherts to claim Joe Keyes’ crossfield kick.

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Brierley converted and when Rankin let a high kick bounce, he was dragged back behind his own line to concede a drop-out.

They forced more pressure with Jez Litten’s wonderful 40/20 kick and had plenty of confidence but, bit by bit, that was eventually drained out of them.

Hull KR: Dagger; Minikin, Kenny-Dowall, Linnett, Crooks; Keyes, Brierley; Murray, Litten, Maher, Gee, Storton, Hadley. Substitutes: Harrison, Garbutt, Trout, Minchella.

Castleford Tigers: Rankin; Olpherts, Mata’utia, Shenton, Clare; Trueman, Richardson; Watts, McShane, Griffin, Holmes, McMeeken, Massey. Substitutes: Millington, Milner, Blair, Smith.

Referee: Chris Kendall (Huddersfield)

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