CASTLEFORD Tigers boss Daryl Powell labelled his side “dumb” after they saw Hull KR dramatically snatch a draw following the final hooter.
Tigers – who lost captain Michael Shenton to a first-half knee injury – had been scrappy at times in their first Super League game of the season but had still got themselves into a winning position after Jake Webster’s second try put them 16-10 ahead just after the hour.
Luke Gale couldn’t convert from wide out, though, and after the visitors failed to muster a single drop goal attempt, it meant Rovers remained in touching distance despite having little decent ball.
They duly took their best chance in the last minute when Castleford centre Ben Crooks raced out of the defensive line but missed Ben Cockayne, the excellent full-back finding Josh Mantellato with a pass for the Italy winger to score in the corner.
Mantellato still had to convert from the touchline, though, and into a fierce wind, but he somehow managed it to secure Rovers a point and leave Tigers deflated.
Powell admitted: “We were just dumb if I’m being honest.
“We had that game won; it was tight all the way through, we worked hard but a couple of brain explosions from some players really hurt us. We kept gifting them the ball and they were finally able to take advantage right in the corner.
“It was a great kick from Mantellato though and they deserved it. We just weren’t great all game; it was tough conditions and we need to pick ourselves up and be a fair bit better than that.”
Castleford winger Denny Solomona had scored early on after a smart pass from Gale, who converted, but Rovers had most of the pressure in the first half, finally going over via James Donaldson, Mantellato levelling it up with just 34 seconds of the period remaining.
Ex-Hull KR star Webster had come off the bench to replace England centre Shenton and made a big impact.
The Kiwi sliced through from a scrum 15m out after Cockayne, the ex-Wakefield star who impressed at full-back, made a rare mistake dropping Gale’s long punt in the 49th minute.
Gale improved the score and, though Mantellato hit back with his first try, he couldn’t convert himself to leave Cas still in front.
Webster added his second after Solomona did brilliantly to take Gale’s crossfield kick but this time Gale couldn’t add the extras, leaving Rovers with hope. Powell admitted: “I thought there was one period where we might have bobbed a drop-goal over, but the game was a difficult one to play in.
“The ground conditions were so tough, but I thought we should have won the game.”
He was disappointed by the John Boudebza tackle that left Shenton grounded, the France hooker being placed on report for the challenge.
“That was a bad tackle – that’s got to be out of the game,” said Powell. “Shenny doesn’t look great, but we won’t be certain until he has a scan.
“It’s disappointing to lose our captain; we won’t know for sure until he gets the scan but he’ll definitely have a period on the sidelines. That said, I thought Jake stepped in and did really well in his absence. It’s gone on report has the tackle, but it needs looking at.”
Hull KR: Cockayne; Sio, Minns, Thornley, Mantellato; Blair, Kelly; Tilse, Lawler, Allgood, Horne, Clarkson, Greenwood. Substitutes: Mulhern, Donaldson, Green, Boudebza.
Castleford Tigers: Dorn; Monaghan, Crooks, Shenton, Solomona; Roberts, Gale; Millington, McShane, Cook, Holmes, McMeeken, Jewitt. Substitutes: Boyle, Milner, Moors, Webster.
Referee: Richard Silverwood (Mirfield)