Castleford Tigers edged one step closer to Super League survival as they beat Hull FC 29-12 at the Mend-A-Hose Jungle.
A brace from Jason Qareqare, coupled with tries from Greg Eden, Alex Foster and Jordan Turner guided Danny Ward’s men to victory over the Airlie Birds and grow the gap at the bottom to four points with just two games to go in the regular season.
This game felt like a must win for the Fords. They sat two points above their relegation rivals Wakefield Trinity at the start of play; but a win could see the Tigers go four points clear if results elsewhere go their way. Could they move a step closer to Super League survival tonight?
Castleford needed a quick start, and boy did they get it as Jason Qareqare scored in the third minute to send the Jungle into raptures. A sweeping move found the ball in Gareth Widdop’s hands, and the experienced back threw a miss pass out to the winger who danced over the line for the Fords first try.
Hull FC would come back firing though, and eventually broke down the stubborn defence on their third repeat set on the Tigers line. A flowing move through the backline found Adam Swift in space on the left edge and the winger slid over to score his side’s first try, and his 11th try in nine games. Darnel McIntosh was on hand to pull his side level; the nerves were starting to creep back in for the Wheldon Road faithful.
Cas thought they had regained the lead not long after. A Blake Austin kick was wonderfully caught by Greg Eden; but his pass to Muizz Mustapha was judged to be forward.
Blake Austin’s boot would be on hand to create another golden opportunity for the Fords; however they would let it go amiss after some stellar defence from Davy Litten on the goal line to prevent Eden from grounding the ball.
They wouldn’t be held out for long though; as Jason Qareqare pinched the ball in mid-air to run the length of the pitch and grab his second of the night. Widdop added his second conversion of the night and the Fords had regained their much deserved six point lead.
Blake Austin’s boot would again cause chaos for the Airlie Birds. A tricky grubber kick from the Australian wasn’t dealt with by two Hull FC defenders, which allowed Greg Eden to sneak in and ground the ball. Widdop made it three from three off the tee and they now led by 12.
There was a different energy around the Castleford squad tonight, and that was epitomised in the dying embers of the first half as they stood tall against some solid pressure from the FC attack; notably with Qareqare preventing McIntosh crossing out wide.
This defensive effort from the home side maintained their 12 point lead at the break, but could they keep the visitors at bay in the second 40?
A nervy opening 15 minutes followed, and both teams would threaten each others lines; with the best opportunities going to the Black and Whites. Twice in the space of a few minutes the visitors were able to find Adam Swift in space on the left edge, but the Tigers defence stood tall and held them out.
Castleford nearly earned some reward from this stellar defence.
A great set in attack saw them just outside the FC 20 meter line; however they were stopped by a high tackle from Davy Litten. The youngster was sent to the sin-bin and the experienced Widdop opted for the two; but he was unsuccessful.
Widdop, fresh from his miss, would then gift Hull FC field position as he couldn’t hold onto Tex Hoy’s kick; however they would let this chance go begging.
Qareqare would nearly complete his hattrick, as the winger reacted quickest to a loose ball and scampered down field; but a great bit of cover defence from Adam Swift would stop him getting his third of night. Later on in the set though they would grow their lead by a point as Blake Austin knocked over a drop-goal.
This seemed to fuel the Fords as they scored their forth try shortly after. Another perfectly weighted grubber kick from Austin set about a footrace, which Alex Foster won to dot down and send the Jungle into raptures. Widdop was unsuccessful with the goal, however the Tigers led 23-6.
The Airlie Birds would hit back quickly though, as Adam Swift grabbed his second of the night out wide. McIntosh was again successful from the tee, cutting the home sides lead down to 11 points.
Not to be outdone, the Tigers again crossed the whitewash through Jordan Turner. Yet another grubber kick from Austin wasn’t dealt with by the Hull defence, which allowed Turner to dot the ball down on his final appearance at the Jungle in Castleford colours. Widdop slotted the kick and the Tigers were up 29-12.
This rounded off a stellar performance from the Fords, and saw them edge one step closer to Super League safety, with results elsewhere meaning they now sit four points ahead of Wakefield Trinity in the relegation scrap.