The opening fixture of round two saw the Castleford Tigers travel to an embattled Hull FC as they looked to follow up on last weeks opening round win over the Catalans Dragons.
FC were looking for their first win in thirteen outings, stretching back to the 29th June 2018, and coach Radford was delighted to welcome back England half-back Jake Connor after he missed the opening loss at Hull KR through suspension. He also had Hakim Miloudi and Joe Westerman in his starting thirteen, and Micky Paea on the bench.
The Tigers had just a couple of changes with Alex Foster replacing Mike McMeeken, who was ruled out with concussion.
Michael Shenton landed the first blow for the Tigers with four minutes on the clock with a ten metre run to the line off a Jacob Trueman pass. Paul McShane added the conversion for a 6-0 lead, inflicting yet more pain on the home supporters.
On twelve Jesse Sene-Lefao doubled the lead when he picked up a McShane grubber over the FC line to drop to the ground for the four pointer. McShane was unable to add the conversion.
On fifteen the Airlie Birds had a try ruled out for Mark Minichiello by the video referee allowing Castleford to play a ‘get out of jail for free’ card. But within a minute Hull worked the ball to both wings with Joe Westernam chiming through the line and crashing over for a try thanks to a delightful Jake Connor pass. Sneyd added the conversion to his try for 6-10.
On twenty-six FC hit the front when Connor rose above the Tigers defence to take a Marc Sneyd across field kick, spin out of the tackle and go five metres to ground by the uprights. When Westerman added the conversion the home side had a 12-10 lead.
Somehow Peter Mata’utia managed to ankle tap Jamie Shaul in full flight, with the line begging, and as he hit the ground he lost the ball. A minute later and it was Hull’s turn to be strong in defence as they managed to thwart a Tigers attack on their own line with a last ditch tackle.
With forty second left until the interval the Tigers regained the lead as Shenton completed a cross field passing move by stepping off the left foot to come inside his tackler and dive over the line. McShane was again unable to add the extras but Daryl Powell’s side had a 14-12 lead at the break.
James Clare drew first blood in the second half, scoring an airborne try by the right corner flag in the forty-seventh minute. McShane missed his third conversion of the night, his side now 18-12 ahead.
On fifty-one Connor appeared to have picked up his second try of the night but it was wiped off by the video referee for an obstruction in the build up. Two minutes later and Castleford hit FC with the double whammy when Junior Moors got the Tigers fifth by grounding a McShane grubber kick as the FC defence held off. McShane kicked the conversion for 24-12.
With both defences opening up, Jordan Lane finished off a sixty metre FC try when he took an inside pass from Connor to go close to the posts and ground. Sneyd added the extras to reduce the arrears to just one converted try.
A Jordan Rankin goal, after a nasty looking tackle on the normal kicker Paul McShane once again stretched the Tigers lead.
On sixty-five Connor was held up over the line by some great last ditch defence and despite an open last quarter of an hour neither side could get over for any more points, the visitors taking an eight point win back to West Yorkshire.
Despite the loss this was a better performance from Hull. Jake Connor is a massive difference for the Airlie Birds and will be a major player when the do end their horrific losing streak. Castleford picked up more injuries to put a furrow on the winning coaches brow but he will be satisfied with a hard fought two points and a unbeaten start to the season.
FC: Shaul, Miloudi, Tuimavave, Griffin, Faraimo, Connor (T), Sneyd (3G), Taylor, Houghton, Matongo, Manu, Minichiello, Westerman (T). Subs: Lane (T), Litten, Paea, Thompson.
Tigers: Mata’utia, Clare (T), Minikin, Shenton (2T), Eden, Trueman, Watts, McShane (2G), Millington, Massey, Sene-Lefao (T), Foster, Rankin (G). Subs: Milner, Moors (T), Roberts, Clark.
Referee: Chris Kendall.