A Greg Eden hat-trick against Hull KR helped Castleford get their second win of the restarted season and end their losing streak after the shock of last week’s massive loss to Hull FC.
Castleford and Rovers came to this match with no play-off prospects on realistic offer and nothing to play for but pride and experience. And both teams had a makeshift look about them as injuries and the pressure of fixtures took their toll.
Rovers took to the field without head coach Tony Smith overseen them after he started a 14-day Covid isolation because he had been in contact with someone who tested positive. And the kick-off itself was delayed by an hour after an incident on the M62 affected both teams’ travel to the stadium.
Hooker Jacques O’Neill opened the scoring for the Tigers eight minutes into the game, reaching between two tacklers to ground the ball to the left of the posts. Danny Richardson made easy work of the conversion to make the lead 6-0 for the team with just one win since the sport’s post-lockdown restart.
Two minutes later, the video ref was called in to see if they had improved the score when Alex Foster looked to have reached, and grounded, the ball kicked through by Richardson before Ben Foster.
The word from the video gantry was “yes” for a 10-0 lead. Richardson promptly made it 12-0.
The team in black and amber could have made it three tries in four minutes, but a score-saving tackle by KR full-back Will Dagger saw Chase Blair spill the ball forward a metre short of the line.
But Adam Milner did score on the 20th minute mark, charging through a gap and planting the ball between the posts with tacklers hanging off him to take the score out to 16-0. Halfway through the first 40 and the Tigers were looking dominant, backed by a solid defensive effort when the Rovers had their own periods of pressure.
And Greg Eden, a former Robin s player himself, reinforced that dominance when he intercepted a Weller Haruaki pass and sprinted half the length of the field to ground the ball. Richardson’s conversion took the score to 24-0, with points coming at nearly a point a minute.
But the first 40 then turned into a half of two very different quarters.
KR’s attack made their presence felt on 28 minutes when Robbie Mulhern breezed through a gap in a disorganised Castleford line, following an injury to O’Neill, and Dagger converted for a better looking 24-6 scoreline.
And it became even better looking for the Hull team when half-back Jordan Abdull kicked through for Elliot Minchella to dive onto. In the space of four minutes, Rovers had halved their deficit at 24-12 and there was no doubt they were in the game.
Shaun Kenny-Dowell made it even closer when he ran through the line to score. With Dagger’s third conversion of the game, Rovers were now approaching half-time just one score behind.
But just seconds from the hooter, Rovers gave a penalty away at a play-the-ball under their own posts, and Castleford unsurprisingly kicked for goal to take the gap out to eight points and the teams went to the half-time sheds at 26-18.
Eden made sure Cas started the second half as they started the first when he went over in the corner, after a break by captain Michael Shenton followed by a smooth right-to-left passing move.
Richardson converted from the touchline and took the score to 32-18.
Despite promising attacks by the Robins, the score stayed there into the final quarter of the game. And then Rovers hooker Matt Parcell found himself in possession and watched a gap open up in front of him to score to the left of the posts to make Dagger’s conversion a formality and the score now read 32-24.
Eden restored the lead when he scored his hat-trick try on 73 minutes, squeezing in at the corner after latching onto a pass from Shenton. Richardson couldn’t convert this time, but the Tigers were now two scores ahead with less than five minutes to go after the kick.
A break by Paul McShane, Eden and Richardson – after KR knocked on in attack – resulted in the Tigers winning a penalty in the KR 10m, which Richardson kicked for a 38-24 final score.
Castleford: Hodgson, Eden (3T), Shenton, Blair, Olpherts, McShane, Richardson (5G, 2P), Smith, O’Neill (T), Massey, Moors, McMeeken, Milner (T). Replacements: Senne-Lefao, Foster (T), Peachey, Matin.
Hull KR: Dagger (4G), Crooks, Kenny-Dowall (T), Linnett, Rawsthorne, Abdull, Milnes, Lawler, Parcell (T), Maher, Hauraki, Hadley, Minchella (T). Replacements: Mulhern (T), Lewis, Gee, King.
Referee: Gareth Hewer
Half Time: 26-18
Full Time: 38-24