Castleford travelled to Hull KR this evening with the Roger Millward Trophy, commemorating the 1960s playmaker who graced both clubs, at stake – plus the small matter of securing a place in the title playoffs.
A win by the visitors would cement their current fifth spot and guarantee a play-off berth, while opening the prospect of a fourth place finish.. A Rovers victory could see them leap over Leeds in sixth to take that fifth spot from the Tigers, at least until the final week.
The Robins welcomed influential half-back Jordan Abdull back from injury, while the Tigers, already missing talismanic hooker Paul McShane, entered the game without half-back Gareth O’Brien, replaced by utility back Jordan Turner.
And just to add to the atmosphere Mose Masoe entered the field befoe kick-off to say farewell to the Rovers and their fans.
Mikey Lewis gave the Robins the start they wanted when he dotted down in the corner following a break down the wing from Kane Linnett. Abdull made no mistake with the conversion and the score stood at 6-0 after six minutes.
Niall Evalds returned the favour after Olly Holmes broke the Robins’ line on a fifth-tackle play and the Cas full-back was there to receive the pass in support and race over the line. Danny Richardson’s conversion levelled the score.
KR promptly put their own pressure on the Cas line after a set-restart just 20 metres out, and then won another set wen Turner looked to have intercepted but was blown up by referee James Child.
The red-and-whites promptly moved the ball out the other wing where Brad Takairangi looked certain to go over before being tackled into touch.
The visitors promptly moved upfield after that scare and Derrell Olpherts grounded the ball on the home team’s whitewash to take the lead after being confirmed by the video ref. Richardson converted.
Lewis got his second of the night on 25 minutes as the hosts got a repeat set in the Cas red zone when James Clare knocked on trying to catch a high kick. Abdull converted for a 12-all score.
The teams remained locked on that until well into the 38th minute when Richardson took the opportunity to drop a goal for a 12-13 lead to the Tigers.
They opened the second half with back-to-back restarts in the Rovers 20 which saw captain Michael Shenton attract the home defence in the corner before passing the ball to Evalds for his second try. Richardson converted to open the Tigers’ lead to seven points at 12-19.
Matt Purcell narrowed it back to three points when he seized on a loose ball from a high kick after Shawn Kenny-Dowell knocked it to the ground. Abdull’s conversion took the score to 18-19. And to top that, he followed the kick with a 40-20 kick on the next set.
Kane Linnett crossed for the Robins to give them a 22-19 lead with a kick to come. Abdull’s conversion took the lead to 24-19.
Errors multiplied for both sides as the final 10 minutes of the game approached, in a tense finale with the hosts holding the advantage.
And it was the team in red and white who came home with the west sails and held on for the win, sealed by a penalty on full time, which gives them the real chance of play-off football when they face Leeds in the final regular season next week.
The Tigers, meanwhile, will be hunting a win against Warrington on Thursday.
Score progression: 0-0, 3-0, 6-0, 6-4, 6-6. 6-10, 6-12, 10-12, 12-12, 12-13. Half-Time: 12-17, 12-19, 16-19, 18-19., 22-19, 24-19, 26-19
Castleford Tigers: Evalds (2T), Clare, Shenton, Mata’utia, Olpherts (T); Turner, Richardson (3G, DG); Griffin, Milner, Smith, Holmes, Sene-Lefao, Massey. Replacements: Foster, O’Neill, Hepi, Matagi.
Hull KR: Dagger, Hall, Kenny-Dowal, Minikin, Crooks; Abdull (4G, 1P), Lewis (2T); King, Parcell (T), Maher, Linnett (T), Takairangi, Storton. Replacements: Vete, Litten, Johnson, Kleinhorst.
Referee: James Child
Half Time: 12-13
Full Time: 26-19