Castleford continued their winning start to the season with a closely fought 18-26 win over Hull FC at the KCOM stadium.
It was a physical start to the game straight from kick-off, a big run from Scott Taylor encapsulating what we would be expecting.
Hakim Miloudi made himself busy with scampering runs, doing his best to put the black and whites on the go forward. Castleford’s defence more than held up with star hooker McShane putting himself about.
This lead to the visitors drawing first blood – young Trueman putting on a smart inside step and feeding it to captain Shenton to cross over.
Hull FC responded by working their way into the Tigers half and forcing a drop goal. Despite their best efforts, Castleford kept out the home side with fantastic defence.
Momentum continued in the Tigers favour, which lead to Sene-Lefao scoring from a sneaky McShane grubber. Hull FC’s grasp on the game seemingly slipping away all within the first quarter.
Minichello thought Christmas had come early when an Eden mistake allowed him to bundle over the whitewash – it was however waved away when the video referee deemed Eden to be in touch when he made his earlier error.
It mattered not when Westerman crossed over in the very next play – a fine dummy giving the hosts a foothold in the match.
Both sides continued to test each others defences, but a series of errors from both sides derailed the flow of the contest. However, it was Hull who reaped the rewards when Sneyd put in a beautifully weighted cross-field kick for the returning Connor to collect expertly. Sneyd converted and suddenly the hosts found themselves leading the way.
The Tigers reacted to this when McShane again put through a clever kick – but Shaul put his body on the line and bravely collected. The Hull fullback backed up this effort with a blinding break but brilliant scrambling defence from Castleford stopped him crossing over.
The game had suddenly opened up and this time Castleford broke but more fantastic defence, this time from the hosts, kept the Tigers at bay. The half was set to finish in Hull FC’s favour, but a break down the left and classy hands from Castleford put Shenton over for his 100th career Castleford try.
The second half started in similar fashion as the first, but Hull FC being the aggressors this time around. However, it was winger James Clare who scored the first try of the half, putting the visitors six points ahead.
Connor seemed to have responded for the hosts but was denied by the video referee. This was followed up by Castleford marching up the field and crossing with Moors – another deft kick by McShane putting the forward over.
The game suddenly resembled a game of tennis, as Hull FC immediately responded through Lane – another run by Shaul opening up the Castleford defence. Connor was right in the mix and almost crossed again – but great defence kept the hosts at bay.
The black and whites seemed desperate at times, often losing possession in attempts to make something out of nothing. They ultimately couldn’t complete a comeback and Castleford ran out winners.
Three talking points
Shaul & Connor a class act
Hull FC fullback Jamie Shaul put in an impressive performance at both ends of the field, and was involved in all of the good the black and whites produced. His brave covering of attacking kicks and his blistering pace frustrated the Castleford outfit. The returning Jake Connor also made a massive impact and showed just what was missing in the derby last week. Hull FC still have plenty to offer this year and should come good – but with 13 losses in a row in all Super league games, it needs to happen soon.
A big year in store for Trueman
Young Jake Trueman did himself plenty of good in another brilliant performance. With Castleford star Luke Gale set to miss entire 2019 season and Jamie Ellis ruled out for up to six months – the pressure will surely sit on the shoulders of Trueman in 2019. He linked up well in attack tonight and often put his teammates through the Hull FC defensive line. It was certainly a performance that will put Tigers fans at ease – as they look to be in very safe, and capable hands.
McShane a Man of Steel contender
It was a performance to remember for McShane, as most of the good Castleford produced came through the hooker. His defence was as solid as ever, but it was his amazingly deft kicking game that set up two Tigers tries and put the visitors on the front foot. He will surely be on the shortlist for MOS should the performances continue.
Line-ups & ratings
Hull FC: Shaul (9), Miloudi (6), Tuimavave (6), Griffin (6), Faraimo (5), Connor (7), Sneyd (7), Taylor (7), Houghton (7), Matongo (6), Manu (6), Minichiello (6), Westerman (7). Subs: Lane (7), Litten (5), Paea (6), Thompson (6).
Tries: Westerman, Connor, Lane Goals: Sneyd 3/3
Castleford Tigers: Mata’utia (6), Clare (7), Minikin (6), Shenton (8), Eden (6), Trueman (9), Rankin (6), Watts (7), McShane (9), Millington (6), Sene-Lefao (7), Foster (6), Massey (6). Subs: Milner (6), Moors (7), Roberts (6), Clark (6).
Tries: Shenton (2), Sene-Lefao, Clare, Moors Goals: McShane 2, Rankin 1
It was a case of so close yet so far for Hull FC – in what will be their 13th loss in a row in all Super League games. After a narrow defeat last week to arch rivals, the hosts seemed desperate to give their fans something to cheer about.
Despite it being another loss, it is worth highlighting how good Jamie Shaul played, he was involved with plenty of good for the black and whites. The pressure will surely be on Radford, but I still think they will come good.
The visitors however had something to say and played a great game, lead by the terrific Trueman and magnificent McShane. Castleford now have two wins from two and will certainly be in and around the top of the table come the play-offs.