Today’s game was always going to be a tough one. Having lost their last two home games heavily the last team Hull will have wanted to face is Castleford. Despite facing the red hot Tigers the performance and effort that the Black and Whites delivered was phenomenal both before and after Liam Watts was sent off.
Hull flew out of the blocks and opened the scoring after just five minutes. Albert Kelly timed his pass to Scott Taylor to perfection to send the big prop forward through a gap to crash over the line. Marc Sneyd converted and after Hull were piggy backed down the field by a penalty in the next set they scored again. This time Kelly found Jake Connor out wide who did brilliantly to flick an offload to Mahe Fonua who dived over in the corner.
Hull were on fire and after Castleford bombed a chance with a forward pass Hull went up the other end and scored again. Mahe Fonua got his second try of the game as Sneyd put a high kick up to the right hand side and Connor patted it back into the arms of Fonua who strolled over. Sneyd converted again and Hull were 18-0 up and coasting. Then the game changed dramatically.
Luke Gale was smothered in a ball and all tackle by Jake Connor, he was falling to the ground as Liam Watts came in to complete the tackle. Watts mistimed his tackle and hit Gale high as he went to wrap him up. It was a penalty and potentially a yellow card but incredibly Robert Hicks produced a red card meaning Hull had to play for 58 minutes with 12 men. An impossible task surely against a team like Castleford?
It didn’t take The Tigers long to make the man advantage count. Greg Minikin scored after shrugging off Marc Sneyd but Ben Roberts missed the conversion. Roberts was the next to score for the Tigers when he squeezed his way over from dummy half although it appeared he may have grounded the ball short of the line. He missed the conversion again to keep the gap at ten points.
Marc Sneyd added a relieving penalty in the 36th minute and that looked to be it for the first half but Castleford scored right on the hooter. Jordan Thompson missed a tackle and Jake Webster broke up the middle. He found Michael Shenton who crashed over to make the score line at half time 20-14 to Hull FC.
Despite having a man advantage Castleford didn’t register the first points in the second half. Hull got a penalty and despite missing one a few minutes earlier Sneyd nailed it to make the gap 8 points at 22-14.
Hull were defending for their lives and picking up niggly injuries left right and centre. Hicks gave Castleford penalty after penalty and eventually the pressure resulted in Ben Roberts getting his second try of the game. This time it was Paul Mcshane’s turn to miss a conversion for Castleford so the score remained 22-18.
It looked like Castleford would inevitably find a winning try from somewhere but incredibly it was Hull who scored next. Albert Kelly sent a brilliant kick to the corner, Steve Michaels did brilliantly to collect it and he found Carlos Tuimavave who dived over to score. The roof nearly came off the KCOM Stadium at this point as the Hull fans realised the monumental effort their team was putting it may just allow them to hold on for the win.
The last 15 minutes were certainly nerve wracking but Hull just kept scrambling in defence. Jake Connor had gone off, Mark Minichiello was on one leg and Albert Kelly somehow got up after a massive impact in defence. Despite all this Hull just weren’t going to be beaten and when Kelly kicked a 40/20 the Hull fans knew it was probably going to be their day.
Castleford scored right on the hooter but by that time it didn’t matter, Hull had held on! The effort in the second half from every single Hull player was outstanding. They muscled up in defence and scrambled brilliantly at times to deny Castleford. To win against a team like that with 12 men for 58 minutes is quite incredible. That result could define Hull’s season and if it does then they are set for a successful 2017!