Connor Wynne, Ben McNamara and Cheyse Blair feature in dramatic reserve clash between Hull FC and Castleford Tigers

Reserve rugby is proving its worth week by week as teams use it to get minutes into the legs of injured players.

Earlier today we saw Lee Gaskell notch five assists in Wakefield’s 30-16 win over St Helens at reserve level as he looks to claim a place in Trinity’s first team in the coming weeks and Castleford also put it to good use by getting some minutes into Cheyse Blair after his recent absence.

Meanwhile, opponents Hull FC used today’s fixture to keep the likes of Connor Wynne and Ben McNamara going after recent stints in the first team. Wynne even scored a hat-trick in the cup last week against Sheffield whilst Ben McNamara has been superb leading Hull around the field alongside Joe Lovodua in the halves. However, the return of Darnell McIntosh and Luke Gale spelt the end of their run in the first 17 somewhat harshly but they were given the chance to stake a claim for a first team spot next week in the Challenge Cup in today’s reserve game.

It was a tightly contested battle throughout with the Tigers holding a 14-10 lead at the break thanks to tries from MacKenzie Scurr, George Collins and frequent first team player Tyla Hepi. Jason Qareqare, who made his name with a superb try in the first team fixture between these two in 2021, claimed an assist for the Tigers in the first 40 as well whilst tries from highly thought of Marcus Walker and Davy Litten from Hull FC kept them in the game. People may remember Litten from the crunching tackle from Leeds’ David Fusitu’a which saw Litten taken from the field in Tom Briscoe’s testimonial match ahead of this season.

In the second half Cain Robb’s grubber kick helped extend Castleford’s lead as Collins grounded it for a second try of the game. Robb, like many players on display in this game, has been unlucky to not feature for the Tigers’ first team recently after some encouraging performances in the early rounds and his kick appeared to be a decisive moment in this match.

After this, the game appeared to belong to the Tigers despite a lovely solo try from Litten to make it 20-14. However, late drama would ensue. Harvey Barron scored for the Black and Whites with the usually reliable McNamara failing to the level the game with 10 minutes left on the clock.

Then in the 79th minute McNamara’s failure with the boot was made meaningless when Walker powered over for his second try of the game down the their right edge which would prove to be the match winning score.

McNamara surprisingly missed with the conversion attempt once more but at this stage it did not matter. It remains to be seen if he and Wynne did enough to catch the eye and the same has to be asked of Blair for the Tigers. It may have instead been a case of young guns like Walker, Litten and Robb showing their value to their clubs now and in the future in this showing.

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