FURIOUS Castleford Tigers coach Daryl Powell labelled his side “abysmal” and questioned their motivation levels after a defeat that leaves their top-four hopes in jeopardy.
The visitors looked on course for a sixth successive win when leading 14-6 at half-time against injury-hit Hull FC yesterday having seen in-form Denny Solomona score another two tries and Luke Dorn cross, too.
Winger Solomona has now scored 13 tries in his last six games alone but his side imploded badly in the second half to fall away and miss out on replacing Huddersfield Giants in fourth.
“The second half was as bad I’ve seen since I’ve been in charge,” said Powell.
“It was abysmal and after being 14-6 up we were unrecognisable.
“It always hurts coach when you think the opponents want to win it a bit more but I think it was evident they (Hull) did looking at that second half and we made too many errors.
“I just don’t know what we were trying to achieve.
“We had a big opportunity today and we are asking questions as to why we didn’t take that.
“I’ve asked them if they want to be a top four team or if they’re happy just being top eight.
“We’ve handed back the ascendancy to Huddersfield now.
“We need to learn lessons with two tough games left –Wakefield away is much harder than it was earlier in the season and Warrington at home, too.”
Powell admitted his side missed Luke Gale’s “control”, the scrum-half absent due to illness.
They missed his goalkicking, too, with replacement Liam Finn crucially managing just one of his four attempts.
After Jordan Abdull pulled a try back early in the second half, Tom Lineham’s spectacular 59th minute score saw Hull get nearer.
The Warrington Wolves-bound winger added his second soon after to put them ahead following some woeful defence and ex-Castleford stand-off Marc Sneyd added a drop goal to his two earlier conversions.
Benny Roberts’ late try gave Cas hope, Leon Pryce being sin-binned for dissent arguing its legitimacy, but Hull, who scored via Richard Whiting in the first period, scrambled again to deny Solomona in the final seconds.
Powell said: “I wondered if we took Hull lightly when we saw the teamsheet and they had Gaz Ellis, Mark Minichiello and Mickey Paea missing.
“If we did, we shouldn’t have.
“Mike McMeeken was far and away our best player. He filled in at centre after Jake Webster went off – we missed him, too, as he was going well – but Mike was terrific and is a hugely promising player.”
Hull FC: Rankin; Lineham, Talanoa, Logan, Michels; Pryce, Sneyd; Watts, Houghton, Bowden, Hadley, Whiting, Westerman. Substitutes: Green, Thompson, Abdull, Fash.
Castleford Tigers: Dorn; Solomona, Webster, Shenton, Carney; Finn, Roberts; Lynch, Milner, Millington, Holmes, McMeeken, Cook. Substitutes: Boyle, Moors, Moore, Springer.
Referee: Joe Cobb (RFL).