JY HITCHCOX scored four tries for Castleford Tigers but still didn’t end up on the winning side as struggling Hull KR pulled off a crucial draw in remarkable circumstances.
The Australian winger - who will be released at the end of the season and has been linked with Bradford Bulls - seemed to have put his side in control when his final effort in the 62nd minute put the hosts 24-12 ahead.
But, after Calum Turner had missed three conversion attempts and Paul McShane another, Rovers still had a chance despite being out-played for much of the contest.
Prop Mose Masoe twisted over in the 70th minute after a fine break by the brilliant Adam Quinlan and, five minutes later, Junior Vaivai crossed after a mix-up between Alex Foster and Greg Minikin defending Chris Atkin’s grubber.
Ryan Shaw did hold his nerve, despite the attentions of a flock of seagulls swooping around his head, maintaining his 100 per cent conversion record to set up a dramatic finish.
Atkin twice had drop-goal attempts miss and Jake Trueman - whose fine kicking had put Castleford into a winning position - also had one effort dragged wide as the game ended all square.
Jesse Sene-Lefao and the returning Junior Moors were superb up front for Castleford but the hosts were left out on their feet in the closing stages with Sene-Lefao, Adam Milner, Mike McMeeken and Joe Wardle having all gone off injured.
They had raced into a 22-0 lead after just 18 minutes when they met at Craven Park barely two weeks previously and they threatened to do just the same today.
This time they were 10-0 up after only nine minutes and that stretched to 14-0 when Hitchcox added his second try in the 25th minute.
Given their level of dominance, Daryl Powell’s side should have been further ahead but, with a combination of some poor execution and some solid goalline defence from the visitors, they were denied any further points.
Castleford had raced into a 22-0 lead after just 18 minutes when they met at Craven Park barely two weeks previously and they threatened to do just the same today.Dave Craven
Much of their control was down to the left boot of Trueman who, in particular, gave teenage KR winger Elliot Wallis a torrid time in only his fourth senior appearance.
The youngster - who earlier in the week signed a three-year contract - was eventually switched to the opposite flank by the 35th minute after Castleford continually tormented him.
He was caught behind his own line from one Trueman kick to concede a drop-out, was left grounded as Hitchcox rose to collect another for his second try and was also tackled into touch on his own 20m line.
But Wallis’s frustration eventually boiled over when he did collect one grubber from the 19-year-old Castleford half-back - only to then slip and end up with a foot in touch.
He threw the ball away in disgust and it was clear Sheens had to act.
That said, when Shaw came over to the right instead, he, too, was trapped behind his own line after yet another pinpoint kick from Trueman.
After KR’s first handling error at the start of the first set, Castleford had gone ahead in the third minute when Mike McMeeken powered through a weak tackle attempt.
Quinlan sailed the restart dead just as he did in the last game between the sides and, although his side survived, they soon conceded again.
Greg Minkin claimed Atkin’s high kick behind his own line and set off on a brilliant 50m dash through the middle.
Trueman supported and - almost typically giving how his afternoon continued - kicked a grubber to the left corner where Hitchcox collected to claim his first try.
Rovers needed to settle but self-imploded with mistakes like Maurice Blair spilling from a scrum 10m from his own line and debutant Joel Tomkins being penalised for dissent.
Still, with their first real attack of note, they crossed in the closing stages of the first half and it was a fine move, too
Atkin put James Greenwood into space and Junior Vaivai finished off for Shaw to convert.
Somehow, Rovers were only 14-6 behind and that deficit was reduced further immediately in the second half.
Shaw’s hanging kick-off saw Atkin steam up and take on the full before finding Quinlan who weaved over between the posts for Shaw to improve again and their fightback soon began despite Hitchcox’s efforts and a Turner penalty.
Rovers also lost Greenwood to a concussion and hooker Aaron Smith was ill during the game so captain Shaun Lunt, in his first game back from injury, had a longer stint than expected.
Castleford Tigers: Turner; Minikin, Foster, Shenton, Hitchcox; Laulu-Togaga’e, Trueman; Cook, Milner, Massey, Wardle, McMeeken, Sene-Lefao. Substitutes: Webster, Moors, McShane, Holmes.
Hull KR: Quinlan; Wallis, Blair, Vaivai, Shaw; Marsh, Atkin; Scruton, Smith, Tickle, Tomkins, Greenwood, Clarkson. Substitutes: Masoe, Jewitt, Lunt, Donaldson.
Referee: Liam Moore (Wigan)