CASTLEFORD Tigers matchwinner Luke Gale revealed his crucial drop goal at Hull FC came a decade after doing the same for Leeds Rhinos in a remarkable 1-0 Senior Academy final victory at the same ground.
The England hopeful showed real composure to slot the one-pointer late on to put Castleford 25-24 ahead at KC Stadium on Thursday night.
He then converted Denny Solomona’s last-minute hat-trick try for a hard-earned 31-24 success as Tigers defeated the Super League leaders and maintained their own unbeaten start.
But scrum-half Gale is not their usual drop-goal specialist, and admitted: “A few people have given me grief afterwards saying I don’t kick many drop goals.
“I used to kick them all the time. I can remember winning an Academy game at Hull 1-0, believe it or not, and I kicked the drop goal, so I must like it here.
“It was for Leeds’ Under-21s in the Academy Grand Final – and I think that was the last one I did!
“Benny (Roberts) has knocked a couple over before but I just thought I’d have a go, and as soon as you strike them you know if they’re going over or not.
“It was just another part of a really good win.”
Alongside Gale in that Leeds side of 2006 was current England winger Ryan Hall plus the likes of Lee Smith, Ashley Gibson, Nick Scruton and Ian Kirke.
Chris Chester – sacked as Hull KR boss last week – was in the Hull FC team that also included Tommy Lee, Danny Houghton and former Cas favourite Kirk Dixon.
Aside from Gale’s heroics, Thursday was also a night for wingers with not only Solomona’s treble – including yet another spectacular one-handed finish for the New Zealander – but Jy Hitchcox grabbing a dream brace on his Super League bow after joining from Featherstone Rovers.
“Jy’s debut was one of the best I’ve ever seen,” admitted Gale, after the Australian came in at late notice for injured Joel Monaghan.
“He’s a strange character but the boys love him and he was outstanding at Hull.
“And I don’t think Denny gets the credit he deserves. I think he’s one of the best finishers in the game.
“If some of those tries he scored were scored in the NRL they’d be shown over and over again. The one he scored last time out against Wakefield was just fantastic; you just give him the ball and let him score, it’s as easy as that.”
It was Castleford’s first win at the KC Stadium in five years and now they are preparing to head to St Helens on Friday where they haven’t enjoyed victory for far longer – since 1992.
Gale, in his second season with Tigers, said: “St Helens is a good chance to lay a marker down again; we’ll go there confident and optimistic we can get another monkey off our backs and score a win.
“It was a really good performance to go toe-to-toe with Hull in their back garden, and it’s one of the best wins we’ve had since I got here. I thought the boys were outstanding.
“We were still a bit scratchy in areas but once it comes together after a few more games I think we’ll be in a really good place.”