Without ever being at their best Castleford Tigers got the win they wanted at Hull to clinch their place in the end of season Betfred Super League play-offs.
A 28-8 success was comfortable enough on a ground where they have not enjoyed much success in recent years and Daryl Powell’s men can now look forward to a semi-final game for the second year running.
In truth, they played in fits and starts, but always had too much for opponents on a long losing run and without key players.
Cas also had six men unavailable and lost Oliver Holmes during the game. They had to contend with a 12-3 penalty count against them as referee Gareth Hewer refused or failed to see infringements by Hull and had two “tries” ruled out - correctly - by the video referee.
Castleford saw out some early fire from Hull to gradually take control in the first half.
Their first threat came when Luke Gale’s grubber kick bounced off the post and had to be booted to safety to bring about a goal-line drop-out.
From the next set Gale’s kick to the corner was just too strong as Greg Eden could not quite collect and dive over, losing the ball just short of the line.
The Tigers suffered a blow with Holmes going off with what looked like a hamstring injury. But a minute later the opening score came as Jake Trueman’s grubber came off a home player and Mike McMeeken pounced, touching down his own kick through for a try that was converted by Gale.
Ben Roberts, playing at centre after coming off the bench, was inches short of another try when he lost the ball off a Hull player’s knee as he tried to touch down over the line.
There was no stopping Junior Moors on 28 minutes as he powerfully shrugged off three home defenders to plant the ball down over the line. Gale’s goal made it 12-0.
Cas stretched their lead in more fortunate circumstances as Liam Harris’s intended long pass bounced off Michael Shenton’s head and landed nicely for Eden to intercept and race 90 metres downfield for another try converted by Gale.
Any hopes Hull had of a comeback were quickly extinguished after the break as within two minutes Peter Mata’utia did well to create space for Eden to cut in from his left wing to go over for his second try and Gale added his fourth goal.
A Trueman grubber forced a drop-out and Moors was held up over the line as the Tigers exerted further pressure.
The home defence cracked again on 50 minutes when Trueman and McMeeken combined to find winger James Clare who came up with a spectacular diving finish for another try.
Surprisingly that proved the last Castleford score as the fluency went out of their play and Hull, boosted by their penalty count, were able to restore some pride.
Carlos Tuimavave put the first home points on the board off the back of a break and pass by Jamie Shaul.
A second Hull try followed as it was their turn for luck with Trueman’s kick bouncing kindly for Hakim Miloudi to hack on and race clear from 80 metres out.
Cas thought they had another score to celebrate when Liam Watts dived onto Paul McShane’s little grubber, but he was unluckily ruled to be offside as he had played the ball to his hooker and had been inches ahead of him when the kick was made. It was a technically correct decision and the Tigers player was denied a score against his former team to shut up home fans who had jeered him.
It did not matter in the grand scheme of things with Cas home and dry for another two points to stay in third place.
Scorers - Hull: Tries Tuimavave, Miloudi. Castleford: Tries McMeeken, Moors, Eden 2, Clare; goals Gale 4.
Hull: Shaul; Faraimo, Tuimavave, Scott, Talanoa; Miloudi, Harris; Taylor, Houghton, Matongo, Hadley, Washbrook, Manu. Subs: Fash, Litten, Lane, Bianek.
Castleford Tigers: Mata’utia; Clare, Wardle, Shenton, Eden; Trueman, Gale; Watts, McShane, Millington, Holmes, McMeeken, Massey. Subs: Roberts, Moors, Milner, Clark.
Referee: Gareth Hewer