Castleford Tigers 7 Hull KR 12: Robins shake off gritty hosts to show they mean business

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IF it was not clear already, Hull KR mean business in 2023.

The Robins threatened to upset the applecart under Tony Smith but have developed a steely edge since Willie Peters' arrival to reach new heights.

A scrappy encounter at a rain-sodden Wheldon Road is a game Rovers would have lost in the recent past; indeed, they suffered a chastening 32-0 defeat on their last visit in May 2022.

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But KR are a different beast capable of winning matches in different ways, as evidenced by the contrasting victories over Hull FC and St Helens in previous outings.

Matt Parcell's try settled the clash with Castleford Tigers to extend Hull KR's winning streak to five games, making it their best start to a Super League season.

As Rovers continue to dream about an Old Trafford challenge, Castleford are left to rue a missed opportunity after throwing everything at their visitors in the first game since Andy Last's appointment as permanent head coach.

The third-bottom Tigers, who had only Jacob Miller's early try to show for their efforts, have now scored just 103 points in 10 games but they could not be accused of a lack of adventure on Friday night.

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Castleford's pursuit of points was not helped by the loss of Niall Evalds and Gareth Widdop to illness.

Hull KR celebrate Matt Parcell's winning try. (Photo: Allan McKenzie/ KR celebrate Matt Parcell's winning try. (Photo: Allan McKenzie/
Hull KR celebrate Matt Parcell's winning try. (Photo: Allan McKenzie/

After being forced to move Greg Eden to full-back and Jack Broadbent into the halves, Last opted to fight fire with fire up against an imposing KR three-quarter line with Mahe Fonua coming in on the wing and Alex Mellor named in the centres.

Rovers appeared to fall into the trap of thinking Castleford were ready for an attritional arm wrestle in greasy conditions.

The Tigers' early ball movement rattled the visitors, Mellor going close after claiming a kick from Miller on the back of a break by Bureta Faraimo.

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There was no stopping Castleford following a storming run down the opposite flank by Kenny Edwards with KR all at sea.

Matt Parcell reaches out to score. (Photo: Allan McKenzie/ Parcell reaches out to score. (Photo: Allan McKenzie/
Matt Parcell reaches out to score. (Photo: Allan McKenzie/

Lachlan Coote failed to deal with Miller's high kick and the half-back picked up the pieces to break the deadlock.

Paul McShane added the extras from in front to give the Tigers the start they craved and the hosts set about extending their advantage, Faraimo racing into open field again only to lose the ball in contact.

Rovers slowly settled into the contest and carved out two opportunities of their own.

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First Corey Hall dropped Jordan Abdull's kick close to the Castleford line before Ryan Hall was adjudged to have knocked on attempting to ground Mikey Lewis' deft grubber.

Castleford celebrate Jacob Miller's try. (Photo: Allan McKenzie/ celebrate Jacob Miller's try. (Photo: Allan McKenzie/
Castleford celebrate Jacob Miller's try. (Photo: Allan McKenzie/

There was an edge to the game from the start and the intensity went up a notch following an altercation between Lewis and Broadbent, two players who are at their best when they play on the edge.

The incident certainly sparked Broadbent into life, the young welterweight folding veteran heavyweight Ryan Hall in half with a crunching hit.

The game became ragged as the teams traded errors and even insults in a niggly finish to the first half.

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Castleford lost Liam Watts to the sin bin for a high shot but fought for every inch in the prop's absence, epitomised by a try-saving effort to deny Shaun Kenny-Dowall just before the half-time hooter.

The Tigers eventually buckled eight minutes into the second half but not before Tom Opacic denied Fonua in the corner, a major turning point in the game.

Rovers quickly went down the other end to pull level thanks to Corey Hall's sliding finish following a slick switch to the left.

Mahe Fonua moved out to the wing for the visit of the Robins. (Photo: Allan McKenzie/ Fonua moved out to the wing for the visit of the Robins. (Photo: Allan McKenzie/
Mahe Fonua moved out to the wing for the visit of the Robins. (Photo: Allan McKenzie/

Castleford suffered a blow when Joe Westerman failed a HIA after a clash of heads with Kane Linnett and lost their way in attack as a consequence.

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Miller knocked over a drop goal just before the hour mark but there was a sense that the Tigers had gone too early, which was confirmed when Fonua and Edwards left the restart for each other and the ball dribbled into touch.

Parcell reached out to score in the resultant set and Coote's second conversion of the night gave the Robins a five-point advantage.

Corey Hall spurned a golden opportunity to seal it under pressure from Faraimo and had another try ruled out for offside but Rovers kept their hosts at arm's length to see out another gritty win.

Castleford Tigers: Eden, Faraimo, Mellor, Turner, Fonua, Broadbent, Miller, Lawler, McShane, Griffin, Milner, Edwards, Westerman. Substitutes: Matagi, Hall, Watts, Tate.

Hull KR: Coote, Kenny-Dowall, Opacic, C Hall, R Hall, Lewis, Abdull, King, Parcell, Kennedy, Batchelor, Linnett, Minchella. Substitutes: Litten, Luckley, Storton, Hadley.

Referee: Marcus Griffiths.