Hull FC 24 Castleford Tigers 31: Solomona’s hat-trick highlight of real thriller

Jy Hitchcox
Jy Hitchcox
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WHERE to begin with this…?

Luke Gale’s sensational 74th minute drop goal was the critical moment as Castleford dumped previously unbeaten Super League leaders Hull FC.

Yet then Denny Solomona, the prolific winger who came up with so much magic again, completed a hat-trick with the very last play, poaching a pass from Hull’s Fetuli Talanoa as the hosts desperately tried to retrieve things.

However, there has been no mention yet of Jy Hitchcox, too, who scored two tries on his surprise Super League debut.

Cas saw Australian Joel Monaghan pull out shortly before kick-off with a back problem.

That saw fellow countryman Hitchcox – who was playing part-time with Featherstone Rovers last season – thrown straight into the starting line-up and he scored within just 90 seconds.

Centre Ben Crooks made the scorching break on his first return to former club Hull and livewire Hitchcox was on hand to finish.

Castleford soon built up an 18-6 advantage and then led 
22-18 when Solomona scored his stunning second try in the 55th minute.

But Hull hit straight back via an equally stunning solo try from Jamie Shaul with the visitors found wanting around the ruck yet again and ex-Tiger Marc Sneyd slotted his fourth conversion for a 24-22 lead.

It looked like Gale’s one miss – for Solomona’s second – looked costly.

However, the England hopeful then slotted a 72nd-minute penalty and moments later held his nerve with a 40m one-pointer under immense pressure.

It still needed a crucial tackle from winger Hitchcox to deny Shaul a hat-trick at the death.

Hitchcox, 26, had only briefly played first-grade in the NRL with Wests Tigers but impressed at Featherstone and persuaded Cas coach Daryl Powell to take a punt.

The visitors tore into a 12-0 lead inside just eight minutes when opposite winger Solomona skipped in for his fourth try of the season.

Hull hit back via ex-Tiger Jordan Thompson after quarter-an-hour but, despite having most of the ball, were left powerless as Hitchcox added his second in the 27th minute.

Luke Dorn was harried into a rushed cross-field kick from the left and Crooks rose to palm the ball on to his winger who then showed real acceleration to get around Talanoa and in at the corner from just 10m out.

Gale landed his third successive conversion for an 18-6 lead but Lee Radford’s side powered back.

On the back of a couple of penalties, they found down the right side where Jack Logan’s clever pass furnished winger Steve Michaels.

It was Michaels’ impressive kick-return that then set Hull in play for their third try two minutes before the break, the hosts then making quick yards around the ruck as they did all the first period, before Danny Washbrook cut a fine angle and then offloaded for Shaul to cross. Sneyd slotted his third kick to send them in level at 18-18.

The visitors had shown real resilience at times in defence, Crooks – who won 2013 Super League Young Player of the Year at Hull before his form dipped – holding up Mark Minichiello over his own goalline and Jake Webster doing likewise.

It was Webster’s great offload that saw Solomona squeeze over in the 55th minute before Shaul scurried in for a brilliant second in the 58th minute but Cas had the last laugh.

Hull FC: Shaul; Michaels, Logan, Tuimavave, Talanoa; Pryce, Sneyd; Taylor, Houghton, Watts, Minichiello, Manu, Thompson. Substitutes: Ellis, Bowden, Pritchard, Washbrook.

Castleford Tigers: Dorn; Hitchcox, Crooks, Webster, Solomona; Roberts, Gale; Lynch, McShane, Millington, Holmes, McMeeken, Jewitt. Subsitutes: Milner, Massey, Cook, Moors.

Referee: Robert Hicks (Oldham)