Fourth travelled to fifth as the battle for the play-off places roared into the Mend-A-Hose Jungle, with Castleford Tigers hosting Hull FC. A win for the Tigers would lift them ahead of the Airlie Birds and into fourth but a win for FC would push them into third and give them some breathing space in the race for the five.
In a crazy season for FC their supporters and management team will have been hoping that it was the sensational side which demolished the Catalans Dragons a fortnight ago, rather than the awful side which lost to the Giants at the Magic Weekend.
Both sides can blow very hot and very cold and it was anyones guess who would emerge victorious.
The opening exchanges were edgy with neither side willing to give away penalties or make mistakes. Jamie Shaul went close on eight minutes but two minutes later Greg Minikin was took a superbly timed pass from Peter Mata’utia to go through a manufactured gap in the line and score. Mata’utia slid his conversion attempt across the front of the uprights.
On fourteen Ratu Naulago scored a one handed airborn try in the right corner after a back handed offload from Jake Connor who had pulled in three defender to create the space for the winger. Marc Sneyd was wide with his conversion attempt, again from the touchline.
A twenty-third minute Mata’utia penalty edged the home side ahead and another, nine minutes later made it 8-4.
The Tigers opened up a cushion on thirty six after a grubber kick couldn’t ne collected by Albert Kelly who scooped the ball into the hands of a more than willing Junior Moors who ran unhindered to the line to ground. Mata’utia was again accurate with the boot for 14-4.
Great hands from Hull put the visitors right back in the game on forty seven with Naulago being the beneficiary as he took the ball wide and went over despite a last ditch tackle attempt from Castleford. Sneyd was again presented with a touchline conversion attempt, this time he hit the target.
FC hit the front on fifty-two. A superb break from Connor saw him cover fifty metres, evading the Tigers tacklers, before making an over the shoulder pass to Kelly who pushed on the accelerator and crossed right of the uprights. Sneyd added the extras for 16-14.
Interference at the play the ball on fifty-six gave Sneyd a simple penalty goal to double the leading margin.
The game was slowly coming to life and on the hour mark Greg Eden stretched for the line and managed to ground with his fingertips to level the scores at 18-18. Mata’utia was unable to add the extras, the sides inseperable over the first hour.
Confusion in the Tigers defence gifted Hull the lead when Kelly grounded a Sneyd kick after Connor had tapped the ball back into the half-backs path. Sneyd added the conversion for 24-18 with fifteen minutes remaining.
The game was won on seventy-one thanks to another length of the field try, finished off by Albert Kelly for his hat-trick. Greg Eden spilled the ball with the line beckoning only for Naulago to collect it and go sixty metres before finding his colleague in support to go over next to the posts. Sneyd added the conversion for 30-18.
A Sneyd seventy-fifth minute drop goal made sure of the victory, quieting the home support while those who had made the journey from Hull were in excellent voice.
This was an excellent away win for Hull FC who didn’t give up when things weren’t going their way and then scored some breathtaking tries to regain the lead. A scintilating second half performance with five tries from the Airlie Birds wingers, ripped the Tigers defence apart as Hull went third in the table and earned themselves a comfort margin of six points over the sixth placed side.
The Tigers will be wondering how they let a hard fought first half lead slip and will now be looking anxiously over their shoulders at Wakefield Trinity who are a win away from overhauling thier fifth spot.
Tigers: Mata’utia (3G), Clare, Minikin (T), Blair, Eden (T), Trueman, Rankin, Watts, McShane, Smith, Sene-Lefao, McMeeken, Massey. Subs: Millington, Milner, Moors (T), Cook.
FC: Shaul, Naulago (2T), Connor, Buchanan, Faraimo, Kelly (3T), Sneyd (5G, DG), Green, Houghton, Paea, Minichiello, Hadley, Westerman. Subs: Fash, Savelio, Taylor, Washbrook.
Referee: Rob Hicks.