Castleford Tigers’ Wembley dream is over for another year after they were booted out of the Ladbrokes Challenge Cup by Jake Connor at a steaming hot KCOM Stadium.
Hull went through to the semi-finals with a 32-24 victory despite both teams scoring four tries each.
It was Connor’s eight goals from nine attempts that proved the difference as referee Phil Bentham gave him five shots at goal from penalties in a display that angered the Tigers fans.
While he was harsh on any laying on in the tackle by Cas and failed to penalise several attempts to milk penalties by Hull players he was not so keen on punishing the hosts for similar tackle offences and this played a big part in the outcome of an exciting but poor quality game.
Hull kept going for goal, rugby union style, and the tactic paid off as the Tigers always seemed to be chasing the game and were starved of possession in the second half.
Cas made the start they feared against a side who they were 18-0 down against at the same ground earlier in the year as they trailed by 12 points after only seven minutes.
They were unlucky with the first try as it looked like Jake Webster was about to score, but Hull’s Carlos Tuimavave intercepted Ben Roberts’ and raced 90 metres for the first score. Jake Connor added the conversion.
A second try swiftly followed as Fetuli Talanoa brushed off Greg Minikin to charge over in the corner. Another goal followed from Connor to make it 12-0.
Albert Kelly came close to a third home try when losing the ball next to the line and Josh Bowden was held up over the line.
Cas came close when Greg Eden collected a Luke Gale pass with one hand, but lost it transferring it to the other.
They did finally get some points on the board in the 29th minute when Roberts weaved his way over after the ball had gone loose off Paul McShane near the line. Gale goaled.
Gale then created a superb try with a clever reverse kick, looking one way and sending it the other way. Full-back Zak Hardaker knew where it was going and easily won the chase to drop on the grubber over the line.
Gale’s goal made it 12-12, but Hull nudged in front with the first of their penalty kicks, landed by Connor.
The second half started with another Connor penalty as Hull set their stall out to kick their way into the semi-finals.
The Tigers went in front, however, when Roberts danced his way over after the ball was switched from left to right after the home team had overloaded one side in a bid to stop Cas’s famous left edge.
Gale’s conversion made it 18-6, but the lead was not to last long as Connor kicked another penalty.
Two minutes later he missed his one shot at goal only to add another two points just before the hour to make it 20-18. At this point there were more stoppages than actual play and Cas did not help themselves as they coughed up possession when they did have the ball.
Hull did finally play some attacking rugby and the key moment came when Mark Minichello’s run across the line was not checked and he sent Mahe Fonua charging over for a try goaled by Connor.
The next home attack brought them another score as tired Tigers defending saw them sliced through and Jamie Shaul went over. With Connor kicking his eighth goal it was now 32-18.
Connor attempted a drop-goal as Hull’s rugby union style tactics continued and Cas looked beaten.
The Tigers did keep going and came up with a try as Minikin finished in the corner off some smart play by Hardaker.
With Gale goaling from the touchline an unlikely comeback briefly looked on.
The next attack ended controversially as Eden took Gale’s kick and was tackled in the air before losing the ball near the line. No penalty came and with that it was game over. Hull had just been too powerful for Cas at key stages and gave Powell’s men food for thought going forward.
Hull will now play Leeds Rhinos in the semi-final.
Scorers - Hull: Tries Tuimavave, Talanoa, Fonua, Shaul; goals Connor 8. Castleford: Tries Roberts 2, Hardaker, Minikin: goals Gale 4.
Hull FC: Shaul; Michaels, Fonua, Tuimavave, Talanoa; Kelly, Connor; Bowden, Houghton, Watts, Washbrook, Minichello, Manu. Subs: Fash, Thompson, Taylor, Turgut.
Castleford Tigers: Hardaker; Minikin, Webster, Shenton, Eden; Roberts, Gale; Lynch, McShane, Massey, Sene-Lefao, McMeeken, Milner. Subs: Millington, Larroyer, Patrick, Foster.
Referee: Phil Bentham.