HOPES OF Challenge Cup glory slipped through Castleford Tigers’ fingers as they wilted in the East Yorkshire heat, crashing out 32-24 at holders Hull.
In the long-run losing in the quarter-finals may benefit Tigers’ chances of winning Super League, but it was a bitterly disappointing afternoon as they suffered their second setback of the year at KCOM Stadium.
Tigers recovered from a disastrous start, leading 18-16 for a brief spell in the second half – after being 12-0 down inside seven minutes.
But in sapping conditions they made too many errors, conceded costly penalties and had very little of the ball after the interval.
Hull scored two converted tries in the opening quarter and missed three big chances.
Though they lost their way for a period either side of the break they were the better team, defending strongly and making better use of the conditions. After just three minutes Carlos Tuimavave intercepted Ben Roberts’ pass and raced 80 metres to score and four later Fetuli Talanoa broke Greg Minikin’s tackle to touch down.
On 12 minutes Albert Kelly knocked-on as he tried to stretch over, then Mark Minichiello and Danny Washbrook were both held up over the line.
Tigers’ first chance didn’t come until the 24th minute, when Greg Eden could not hold on to Luke Gale’s pass.
But four minutes later the ball was knocked out of Paul McShane’s grasp near Hull’s line. The hooker hacked it back to Roberts who picked up from a standing start and then weaved through the defence for a solo try which got Tigers back into it.
Jake Connor, who had improved Hull’s tries, had an outanding game, but hoofed the restart out on the full. On the final tackle from the penalty Gale worked the blindside then kicked infield and Zak Hardaker read the play superbly to run through and touch down.
Gale’s second conversion squared the scores, but Hull took a two-point lead into the break through a Connor goal after Alex Foster was harshly penalised for interference as Danny Houghton knocked on at a play-the-ball.
There was no doubt about Jesse Sene-Lefao’s swinging arm on Mark Minichiello at the start of the second half which allowed Connor to extend Hull’s lead by two. But then Jamie Shaul knocked-on near his own line and following the scrum Michael Shenton dropped the ball back to Roberts and his brilliant footwork carried him through for an outstanding try.
Gale’s conversion edged Tigers in front and they should have gone on with the job, but they led for only seven minutes until Mike McMeeken’s flop on Tuimavave was penalised by Connor taking the two.
Moments after that he was given another opportunity – following interference by Roberts on Kelly – but his kick was off-target. Hull continued to take whatever they could when Connor landed his fourth penalty after a foul by Adam Milner on Minichiello.
That made it 20-18 in Hull’s favour and Hull went two scores clear with a try after an error by Shenton, Minichiello’s run across field setting up Mahe Fonua.
Connor’s conversion opened a two points gap. In the next set Houghton burst clear from Connor’s pass.
The defence managed to pull him down, but Hull kept the ball alive and Shaul crossed off a one-two with Tuimavave. Connor added the extras to make it 32-18 with 12 minutes left.
Minikin gave Tigers hope by crossing from Hardaker’s pass and Gale converted.
But Castleford never looked like pulling the game from the fire.
Hull: Shaul, Michaels, Fonua, Tuimavave, Talanoa, Kelly, Connor, Bowden, Houghton, Watts, Washbrook, Minichiello, Manu. Subs Thompson, Taylor, Turgut, Fash.
Castleford Tigers: Hardaker, Minikin, Webster, Shenton, Eden, Roberts, Gale, Lynch, McShane, Massey, Sene-Lefao, McMeeken, Milner. Subs Millington, Patrick, Larroyer, Foster.
Referee: Phil Bentham (Warrington).