Castleford Tigers ensured they made it their best start to a Super League season with a fifth straight win in thrilling fashion again when they took on Hull at the Mend-A-Hose Jungle.
In front of a bumper near 10,000 attendance, the Tigers left it late before clinching a 19-16 victory with Frankie Mariano’s try six minutes from time and a Marc Sneyd drop-goal shortly after.
In contrast to last week’s classic against Wigan, this was more of a tough affair, but Cas did just enough to beat a hard as nails Hull side that defended well and were hard to break down.
Castleford trailed 12-6 at the break after a bruising first half in which both sides made mistakes in the face of some uncompromising defence.
Hull made a strong start in which they denied the hosts the ball for the first six minutes. In that time they opened the scoring as they worked an opening on their left with centre Kirk Yeaman sending winger Fetuli Talanoa over for a try converted by Ben Crooks.
Back came Cas to score with their first set, Daryl Clark making a storming run from acting half, Grant Millington taking the ball on and skipper Michael Shenton applying the finishing touches for a fine try converted by Marc Sneyd.
The Tigers came close to a second try when on the last tackle Weller Hauraki could not quite get a successful pass out near the line under pressure from several tacklers.
But an error at the other end paved the way for Hull’s second try as Jordan Tansey knocked on over his own line. From the resulting drop-out, the visitors got good field position from which Gareth Ellis powered over.
Crooks’ second goal made it 12-6 and that was how it stayed until half-time with both sides unable to make the most of further opportunities near the try-line.
Cas made a good start to the second half and missed two early chances with Tansey passing straight to Hull’s Chris Tuson after making a promising break and Shenton losing the ball three metres out trying to pass to winger Justin Carney while under pressure from tacklers.
But on 45 minutes they levelled the match as Frankie Mariano made a great break then Clark and Oliver Holmes continued the move before Sneyd dummied his way over from close range and added the goal to make it 12-12.
Hull hit back strongly and after great defence kept them out for a spell they finally found a way to score as winger Liam Colbon somehow got the ball down in the corner after his side chose to run the ball on the last tackle. Crooks was unable to goal, leaving the score at 16-12.
However, the Tigers finished the game the better and after Hauraki and Adam Milner went close and a Liam Finn kick could not quite be taken over the line by Richard Owen they came up with what proved the winning try.
Tansey sent Shenton into a gap and the centre’s pass, which may have gone a touch forward, found Mariano, who raced over the line. Sneyd added the goal and Cas were in front for the first time.
Sneyd added a drop-goal to stretch the lead further and the Tigers saw out the remainder to win 19-16 and keep hold of their unbeaten record in 2014.
Scorers - Castleford: Tries Shenton, Sneyd, Mariano; goals Sneyd 3, drop-goal Sneyd. Hull: Tries Talanoa, Ellis, Colbon; goals Crooks 2.
Castleford: Tansey; Owen, Channing, Shenton, Carney; Sneyd, Finn; Lynch, Clark, Huby, Holmes, Hauraki, Millington. Subs: Webster, Milner, Massey, Mariano.
Hull: Shaul; Colbon, Crooks, Yeaman, Talanoa; Heremaia, Horne; Paea, Houghton, Bowden, Ellis, Tuson, Westerman. Subs: Watts, Whiting, Thompson, Rankin.
Referee: Tim Roby.