So Hull kept getting back on track, and Castleford stayed in this relative mini-slump of theirs. It all could have been so different though, as this was a back-and-forth contest in which both sides pushed each other all the way, and it’s a shame that the result of the match was heavily influenced by a dodgy refereeing decision. Phil Betham penalised Mark Wainwright for a dodgy play-the-ball with the scores level in the final ten minutes, but it looked like a) Wainwright had a Hull man interfereing with him and b) he managed to play the ball correctly. In the end the penalty was enough to force Cas to chase the game and also to provide Hull FC with a comfort zone that they took through (and even increased) to the end.
Hull will be glad to have come away with the win in their second close encounter in a row. They showed great spirit in coming back three times during the match, and they took advantage of the chances they got very well. Danny Washbrook is finally overcoming a spell of injury to really make an impact. Willie Manu was also a threat both in attack and defence, as his constant attempts at ball-stealing tended to either work or force the TIgers to take extra care around him, thus reducing their second-phase play. Even though they’ve only just managed to win their last two games, Hull have still won them and look like they’re regaining their mojo.
Cas in turn will feel disappointed and possibly even cheated. In the end, Hull were the better side though and Cas really gifted them field position with a kicking game that bordered on shocking at times (Brent Sherwin sent the ball straight dead twice). Cas had a cutting edge but they seemed to lack a finishing ability, and they relied on a near-miracle play for one of their tries (see below). Their forwards were also up for the tough battle in the middle, but they seemed to be lacking dynamism (a Mitchell Sargent break down the middle notwithstanding). Cas strike me as a side who are treading water at the minute but they’re not that far off, and once they hit a groove again I think they’ll get back on the winning track.
One more thing… Kirk Dixon’s move to keep the ball in play in the Hull in-goal for the Tigers’ third try (scored by Jamie Evans) was probably the most spectacular bit of play of the whole weekend. Pure instinct on show there, and it’s a shame it wasn’t in a winning effort. I’ve got a gif of the move hidden behind the link (as not to overload the frontpage). If you haven’t already seen it, I highly recommend having a look.