Hull KR 26-19 Castleford Tigers
Hull KR moved up to fifth in Super League with a thrilling 26-19 win over play-off rivals Castleford Tigers on a special night at Craven Park. The Robins went into the game knowing a defeat would leave them with an improbable task in the final round but they produced a brilliant team performance to put one foot in the play-offs. Rovers reporter James O’Brien delivers the verdict.
It was never going to be a quiet night under the lights at Craven Park. KR and Castleford have played out some classic encounters over the years, not least last time out in east Hull when the Tigers edged an epic Challenge Cup tie.This time there was a play-off place on the line with the teams separated by just 2.38 per cent in the table.
For much of the game it felt as if Castleford had the upper hand but Tony Smith’s team have substance as well as style this year. Rovers were clinical when it mattered and defended their own line heroically to secure a win that will go down as one of their greatest of the Super League era.
KR now know that they will be assured of a play-off spot before they run out at Headingley next Friday if Castleford lose to Warrington Wolves on Thursday night. A Tigers victory would set up a straight shootout between the Robins and Leeds Rhinos. After turning over in-form Castleford on Saturday night, Rovers will fancy their chances if it comes to that. Wigan Warriors’ win across the city at Hull FC meant it was officially KR’s final home game of the season and Craven Streat ensured a carnival atmosphere.
There was a poignant moment ahead of kick-off when Mose Masoe was given a hero’s reception on his last appearance at Craven Park before heading home at the end of the year.
Rovers were taking on a Castleford side missing Paul McShane and Gareth O’Brien, as well as Liam Watts and Jake Truemen. The Robins had injury issues of their own but welcomed back Jordan Abdull, with the influential half-back slotting back in on a potent left edge.
Abdull could take no credit for KR’s opener on seven minutes, though, with Kane Linnett bumping off Derrell Olpherts before going rampaging down the wing and giving Mikey Lewis a clear run to the line. It was all Rovers in the opening exchanges but soft defence gave Castleford a route into the game. There looked to be nothing on when Oliver Holmes received the ball 30 out only for the back-rower to brush off an uncharacteristically poor attempt from George King to give Niall Evalds an easy finish.
The Robins had the next chance, a nice offload from Brad Takairangi giving Greg Minikin the space to put Ben Crooks away but the winger went for the corner instead of passing back inside to his centre and ended up in touch. That proved to be a costly missed opportunity as Olpherts touched down in the corner on the back of a free-flowing move from the Tigers.
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Hull KR 26 (12)
Tries: Lewis 2, Parcell, Linnett. Goals: Abdull 5.
Castleford Tigers 19 (13)
Tries: Evalds 2, Olpherts. Goals: Richardson 3. Drop-goal: Richardson