Jordan Abdull barged over in injury time to claim a dramatic victory for Hull KR over Castleford and puncture the festive atmosphere at the Mend-a-Hose Jungle.
Daryl Powell’s men blew an early 14-point lead as well as an eight-point half-time advantage with their only points in a dismal second half display coming from a Danny Richardson penalty.
The marginal differences between the sides had been emphasised in the Tigers’ golden-point Challenge Cup win earlier this season, and made it a fine fixture to herald the return of fans for the first time since last March.
Castleford looked set to make the most of the occasion as they eased into a 14-0 lead inside the first quarter of an hour, thanks to tries from James Clare and Michael Shenton, and six points from the boot of Richardson.
But even in the early stages Rovers had fired a warning of what was to come as they were held at bay by some resolute defending, before Ben Crooks got his side on the scoresheet after a neat assist from Brad Takairangi.
Matt Parcell evaded Jordan Turner to squirt over in the left corner just before the half hour mark, with Abdull’s second conversion narrowing the home side’s lead to just two points.
The hosts may have hoped a gruelling night would be averted when Derrell Olpherts wriggled his way over on the right touchline with Richardson’s conversion establishing an eight-point advantage at half-time.
But Rovers’ resolute forward line reaped rewards early in the second half when the impressive Ryan Hall capped a sustained spell of pressure by barging over the line after being teed up by Adam Quinlan.
And shortly before the hour mark Crooks erased the remaining deficit by touching down acrobatically in the corner, although Abdull’s second consecutive missed kick prevented his side nudging in front for the first time.
For all their delight to be back, there was evident frustration among the home fans as, despite another Richardson penalty restoring their lead at 22-20, Rovers were beginning to look the more likely winners.
Jez Litten was held up over the line, before further pressure yielded its almost inevitable result when Abdull went over on the right, finally nudging his side in front for the first time, and kicking the conversion for good measure.