Two sides looking anxiously over their shoulders at the chasing pack met to see who would further their claim for a play-off spot, and who would be vulnerable to being caught, as Hull FC took on their former coach as Castleford Tigers made the trip east.
A victory by more than thirty-six points would lift the home side above the visitors and into fifth in the league table, but a loss for the Airlie Birds would see them potentially dropping out of the six, depending on results elsewhere.
The bookies could barely split the two sides, making the Tigers the slight favourites, but only with a two-point difference on the handicap coupon. It promised to be an entertaining battle.
Hull FC were caught offside with just over two minutes on the clock and with the penalty just twenty out from the sticks, Danny Richardson took the opportunity to kick the goal and give the Tigers the early lead.
On seven minutes the Tigers scored the opening try, a little scrappily, as Derrell Olpherts picked up a deflected Greg Eden grubber kick to score unopposed. Richardson added the extras from wide for 8-0, the FC fans already concerned that this was going to be another bad night.
Hostilities broke out on thirteen minutes as Hull were on the attack. Olpherts was sin-binned for pushing Connor Wynne and was then joined by Wynne as referee Kendall tried to calm things down.
FC got the penalty and used it well with Mitieli Vulikijapani wrestling the ball over the line with three tacklers in attendance. Luke Gale added the conversion from the side-line to reduce the arrears to just two points.
Gale kicked a 40-20 on eighteen and on the first play-the-ball Darnell McIntosh chased a Connor kick to the corner, miraculously grounding the ball just short of the dead ball line. Gale was again accurate from the touchline, in off the post.
With both sides back to thirteen, Danny Houghton tapped a penalty to himself on half-way and went through an asleep Tigers line to canter fifty metres and score under the sticks. Gale added the conversion, FC´s fortunes turned around with three unanswered tries.
On thirty-one the Tigers struck back with Olpherts going over the line on his back and managing to force the ball onto the ground under a pile of tacklers. Another touchline conversion, this one from Richardson put the visitors back within four as the two sides headed for the interval.
Jake Mamo was sin-binned on forty-five for dissent towards the referee, stupidity from the Tigers substitute. But as FC looked to exploit the extra man, they threw a reckless pass which was picked off by Bureta Faraimo who went ninety metres to score in the right corner. Richardson added the conversion to edge the Twelve men back into the lead.
Within three minutes Faraimo got his second, the Tigers playing better rugby with a man short, as he took a short pass to score in the corner. This time Richardson missed the conversion, the Tigers with a six-point lead.
It was three tries in nine minutes when Daniel Smith found Suaia Matagi to go over under the sticks from ten metres out. It was way too easy for Castleford as Richardson added the conversion for 30-18. Hull stunned that they´d been taken apart in a devastating ten-minute spell while up on the field.
On the hour mark the Tigers onslaught continued with Olpherts completing his hat-trick when he crossed in the corner. Hostilities broke out again, Wynne being sent to the sin-bin for the second time on the night. Richardson added the conversion, the Tigers now 36-18 ahead.
On sixty-two Ligi Sao was red-carded for a strike to the head on Jake Mamo, it just got worse for FC.
Olpherts made it four of the best on sixty-three, summersaulting over the line as the stadium emptied of supporters, the eleven men without the manpower to cover wide. Richardson added the extras for 42-18.
Alex Sutcliffe grabbed the eighth try of the night for the Tigers, a seventy-metre interception after taking a wayward pass avoiding the chasing backs to score in the corner. Richardson was unable to convert, the Tigers four short of the half century.
George Lawler was sin-binned after the final hooter for lying on in the tackle but it mattered for nothing as the Toigers celebrated a 46-18 win.
A terrific night for Lee Radford´s Tigers made even sweeter by the opposition, who were dissected in the second half, to complete a double over his ex-employers in 2022. Despite having a decent lead on the half hour mark and carrying it to the interval, FC capitulated in the second half and were unable to cross the whitewash playing with eleven men at times. The Tigers edge towards play-off certainty while FC are now out of the six, allowing the red side of the city to take their place, as their season heads for disappointment.
Hull FC: Walker, McIntosh (T), Wynne (SB on 13, SB on 61), Vulikijapani (T), Simm, Connor, Gale (3G), Sao (SO on 62), Houghton (T), Evans, Lane, Lovodua, Fash. Subs: Brown, Johnstone, Longstaff, Taylor.
Castleford Tigers: Eden, Olpherts (4T, SB on 13), Fonua, Sutcliffe, Faraimo (2T), O´Brien, Richardson (5G), Griffin, McShane, Lawler (SB on 80), Edwards, Mellor, Westerman. Subs: Mamo (SB on 45), Milner, Smith, Matagi (T).
Score Progression: 0-2, 0-6, 0-8, (SB), (SB), 4-8, 6-8, 10-8, 12-8, 16-8, 18-8, 18-12, 18-14 : HT : (SB), 18-18, 18-20, 18-24, 18-28, 18-30, 18-34, (SB), 18-36, (SO), 18-40, 18-42, 18-46, (SB) : FT.
Lead Exchanges: Castleford – FC – Square – Castleford.
Referee: Chris Kendall.