Hull KR fight back against exhausted Castleford to claim share of points
WITH NEITHER coach appearing for post-match press duties for a considerable time afterwards, you could forgive Daryl Powell and Tim Sheens if they had nestled together in the same darkened room following this epic.
Everyone certainly needed a rest, not least Castleford Tigers who had no fit replacements for much of the second period as a resurgent Hull KR threatened to undo all their hard work.
As it stood, the sides shared a point each after Rovers – 24-12 behind going into the final stages – rallied against tiring hosts who were out on their feet at the end.
Even then, Chris Atkin had two drop-goal attempts drag wide for Rovers and Matty Marsh another that barely got off the ground.
Similarly, Castleford’s Jake Trueman – whose silky left foot had initially caused so much damage – saw his shot off-target meaning Tigers winger Jy Hitchcox scored four tries yet still somehow did not end up winning.
The Robins, who saw captain Shaun Lunt make a successful return from injury and had fullback Adam Quinlan in inspirational form, needed a victory most given they are down in 11th.
However, Sheens, who revealed Danny Tickle only had one boot on when he would have usually lined up a drop goal attempt, admitted: “Given the way we started, it was a good point for us.
“With the amount of ball and field position we gave up, not to to get beat by 60, we were lucky in that regard.
“We kept within range in the first half, that was the main thing; with all the ball and field position, they could have gone away with it.
“But a point’s as good as a win when away especially at a place like this.”
Australian winger Hitchcox – who will be released at the end of the season – certainly seemed to have put his side in control.
But, after Calum Turner had missed three conversion attempts and Paul McShane another, Rovers still had a chance despite being out-played for much of the contest.
Prop Mose Masoe twisted over in the 70th minute after a fine break by Quinlan and five minutes later the rampant Junior Vaivai crossed after a mix-up between Alex Foster and Greg Minikin defending Atkin’s grubber.
Jesse Sene-Lefao and the returning Junior Moors were superb up front for Castleford but the hosts were busted when Sene-Lefao, Adam Milner, Joe Wardle and Mike McMeeken all departed one by one.
Still, they were made to pay for not capitalising on their earlier dominance.
Hitchcox (2) and McMeeken scored tries for a 14-0 lead after 25 minutes but given the way 19-year-old Trueman had tormented them with his kicking it should have been much more.
In particular, he gave teenage KR winger Elliot Wallis a torrid time in only his fourth senior appearance. Indeed, the youngster, who earlier in the week signed a three-year contract, was eventually switched to the opposite flank in the 35th minute.
However, a combination of poor execution and some solid goalline defence from the visitors, meant Castleford never truly got away.
Initially, Rovers self-imploded with mistakes like Maurice Blair spilling from a scrum 10m from his own line, Quinlan sailing a restart dead and debutant Joel Tomkins penalised for dissent.
Still, with their first real attack of note, they crossed in the closing stages of the first half and it was a fine move, too.
Atkin put James Greenwood into space and Vaivai finished off for Shaw to convert. Somehow, then, Rovers were only 14-6 behind and that deficit was reduced further immediately in the second half.
Shaw’s hanging kick-off saw Atkin steam up and take on the full before finding Quinlan who weaved over between the posts for Shaw to improve again.
Hitchcox crossed twice more and teenage full-back Turner added a penalty but relentless Rovers powered back meaning Castleford stay in fourth.
“It’s mixed emotions,” said Powell, who explained Grant Millington pulled out on Saturday with a back problem, prompting McShane’s early return.
“I’m disappointed we didn’t win the game, but we had no subs and had players on there who had to stay on. Minikin has a syndesmosis injury and couldn’t keep up with play but we had no one to put on. I didn’t think we were the smartest at times but it was a gutsy effort and in the last five minutes if you’d have given me a point I’d have taken it as Hull KR had all the ascendancy.
“We’re doing it tough at times but got a point and come the mix up at the end of the season that could be important.
“We haven’t a recognised goalkicker out there.
“Jy did great but he should have scored five tries not four. He won’t be with us next season but he’s done a phenomenal job for us, he knows that.”
IN THE PINK: Hull KR celebrate after Mose Masoe scored against Castleford Tigers at The Jungle yesterday. Inset, Castleford’s Jesse Sene-Lefao limps off injured.