Missed goal kicks proved costly as Castleford Tigers unluckily lost 24-22 to leaders Hull FC to make it five straight home Super League defeats.
The absence of injured skipper and goal kicker Luke Gale proved vital as Daryl Powell’s men outscored their opponents five tries to four but came out with nothing to show for their huge efforts.
After trailing by 10 points at half-time the Tigers got back to be level at one point, but paid for missing four of their five conversion attempts.
Castleford let an eight-point lead slip to go in at half-time 18-8 behind.
They started like a house on fire with Luke Dorn’s high kick forcing a goal-line drop-out in the second minute.
From the following set Dorn charged over for the opening try as he sold a trademark dummy to open up a gap. Paul McShane, on kicking duty in the absence of injury victim Gale, could not convert.
Another Dorn high kick almost brought about a second try two minutes later as full-back Jamie Shaul spilled the ball over his own line and Ben Crooks pounced to touch down. No score was awarded, though, as a conflab of referee Gareth Hewer, his in-goal judge and touch judge ruled that Shaul had touch the ball down over the line before the Cas player.
McShane came close when chasing up his own grubber kick that rolled out over the back line. Another grubber by Junior Moors was well defended by Shaul, although it appeared the home player had been obstructed in his attempt to get to the ball and no penalty came.
It was all Cas and they deservedly got their second try when Jake Webster produced a determined run to the line, evading a tackle by Marc Sneyd for a try that went unconverted.
But Hull finally showed why they are top of the table as they dug in and hit back through Frank Pritchard with defenders hanging off him near the line. Sneyd’s conversion made it 8-6.
The visitors then went ahead as Sneyd’s kick bounced off the post and was collected at speed by Danny Houghton for a second Hull try goaled by Sneyd.
Nathan Massey and Ben Crooks were both tackled just short as Cas looked to hit back, but Hull were looking stronger now.
Only desperate defence held up Mahe Fonua twice over the line, but the Tigers could not halt him a third time as he blasted over from close range. Sneyd’s third goal made it 18-8 and that was how it stayed to the interval.
After a quiet start to the second half it was the Tigers who began to exert pressure with Matt Cook taken down within inches of the line twice and Junior Moors denied a try by an obstruction decision from the referee.
A Dorn high kick bounced over the line only to just evade Denny Solomona and Hull’s line survived until the 58th minute when Cas moved the ball wide and Paddy Flynn finished well after evading a tackle to score in the corner. Danny Tickle took over the kicking, but could not add the difficult conversion.
He did kick a touchline goal three minutes later, however, after Solomona dived over in the corner following some good handling by Dorn and Webster and it was level at 18-18.
Another chance followed from the next set as Solomona patted back a high kick to Webster only for his pass inside to be snapped up by Jamie Shaul to relieve the danger for Hull.
The visitors went straight up field and went back in front when Shaul got on the end of a quick set of plays to round Dorn for a try goaled by Sneyd.
Sneyd then attempted to edge his side home with a drop-goal and penalty, but both were wide of the target to keep the Tigers in it.
Flynn bombed a great chance for Cas when dropping the ball with the line begging, but they did score again six minutes from time as Solomona again squeezed over in the corner from Webster’s pass.
It summed up the Tigers’ day, however, when Tickle’s attempted touchline conversion hit the post to keep the hosts two points behind.
In a frantic finish they threw everything at Hull and looked like they should have been given a penalty when the ball appeared to be stolen from Grant Millington 10 metres out.
No decision came in Cas’s favour and it was all over when Tickle got to McShane’s crossfield kick only to drop the ball a minute from time.
Scorers - Castleford: Tries Dorn, Webster, Flynn, Solomona 2; goals Tickle. Hull: Tries Pritchard, Houghton, Fonua, Shaul; goals Sneyd 4.
Castleford Tigers: Dorn; Flynn, Crooks, Monaghan, Solomona; McShane, Millington; Tickle, Milner, Patrick, Moors, Webster, Massey. Subs: T Holmes, Springer, Maher, Cook.
Hull FC: Shaul; Michaels, Fonua, Yeaman, Naughton; Tuimavave, Sneyd; Taylor, Houghton, Watts, Pritchard, Washbrook, Thompson. Subs: Hadley, Green, Pryce, Bowden.
Referee: Gareth Hewer.