DARYL POWELL praised his Castleford side’s efforts despite losing at home for the fifth successive game.
He was right to do so; they pushed Super League leaders Hull FC close, outscoring them five tries to four.
Indeed, they would have secured a point if Danny Tickle’s touchline conversion attempt of Denny Solomona’s second try in the 73rd minute had not agonisingly hit a post.
Castleford, crucially, only improved one of their five efforts unlike the visitors who saw Marc Sneyd, the former Tigers stand-off, enjoy a 100 per cent record with his four kicks.
The hosts were missing Luke Gale, their scrum-half and usual kicker, to an ankle injury apparently turned in training on Thursday.
Paul McShane stepped up first and missed all three of his efforts.
Substitute Tickle, the former Hull second-row, landed his first from wide out when Solomona scored on the hour mark but couldn’t add the second and, despite some late pressing, they fell short.
“I thought it was a great effort with the team we put out,” said Powell.
“We had our chances and it was very close.
“They’ve been used to winning tight games, they’ve been doing that all year, and they just about got away with it today.
“I thought we probably deserved to win the game. You wouldn’t have grumbled either way I don’t think.
“We were missing out first-choice half-backs and we cobbled together a kicking game.
“But I thought we really troubled them.
“When we got in attacking positions, we generally looked like we were going to score.
“We scored pretty wide out generally and they had a couple of dollies from in front of the posts.”
It was Castleford who started better, looking far more confident and controlled than their opponents both in attack and defence, despite a makeshift half-back pairing of prop Grant Millington and hooker McShane.
Luke Dorn, returning after missing last week due to injury, immediately made an impact as the full-back came into the line and sliced over from 15m after just four minutes.
Then Jake Webster powered through Sneyd after a smart play from Millington for an 8-0 lead. However, Hull responded with three tries in 12 minutes from Frank Pritchard, Danny Houghton and Mahe Fonua to turn the game in their favour and force an 18-8 interval lead.
Castleford drew level, though, with slick back-to-back tries heading to the hour mark.
Fine handling, from Dorn and Ben Crooks in particular, saw Paddy Flynn dive in at the right as Sneyd again missed the crucial tackle and then Solomona scored the first of his brace after more creative play to the left.
Tickle levelled only to see his side fall behind again almost immediately when Leon Pryce produced some old magic.
Left out for the last three games with Radford preferring Carlos Tuimavave, the veteran former Great Britain stand-off came off the bench to make a classic sniping run that set Shaul scampering to the line. Sneyd did the rest and, though Hull tried self-imploding with a series of late errors before and after Solomona’s second – the winger’s 26th of the campaign – they held on for a ninth successive win.
Powell, meanwhile, said former Bradford and Leeds half-back Gale has a “chance” of returning for Castleford’s Ladbrokes Challenge Cup quarter-final at Wigan Warriors on Saturday although former Warrington Wolves centre Joel Monaghan is doubtful after pulling a hamstring.
Castleford Tigers: Dorn; Flynn, Crooks, Monaghan, Solomona; McShane, Millington; Tickle, Milner, Patrick, Moors, Webster, Massey. Substitutes: Holmes, Springer, Maher, Cook.
Hull FC: Shaul; Michaels, Fonua, Yeaman, Naughton; Tuimavave, Sneyd; Taylor, Houghton, Watts, Pritchard, Washbrook, Thompson. Substitutes: Hadley, Green, Pryce, Bowden.
Referee: Gareth Hewer (Whitehaven)