Castleford 30 v Hull 28 Review

23/06/2013

Copyright Renee McKay/Action Photographics
Copyright Renee McKay/Action Photographics

It’s a long time since I was last at Wheldon Road, the home ground of the Castleford Tigers. Not much has changed. The stands all look pretty much the same as they were when I first went there with Hull FC and when the crowd sang “you fat bastard” to Noel Cleal – the irregular hoops and white shorts did nothing for the big fellas body image.

The pitch is still undersized. The space between the 30 and 40 metre lines at both ends is about 6 metres. 40/20s should be a doddle and Steve Price would have got 300 metres with his returns from kick offs and 30 carries a game for the Dogs and Warriors. It’s hard to believe that a club can hold professional status with an undersized pitch in 2013.

But the most important similarity is the brand of footy the home team can generate at their special little ground. They conjured up another win against a Hull team that has been in pretty good form for the past couple of months. Last week’s loss to Catalans and another big score in the against column will be worrying for Aussie coach Peter Gentle but this much needed win will delight the newly appointed coach of Cas, Darryl Powell .

The match had a thrilling last period with Hull almost jagging an incredible try from a beautifully weighted kick from rookie Aussie half Jacob Miller who arrived only last Tuesday. In fact the lead changed hands back and forth throughout the match to ensure we all had no idea who would win. Like musical chairs it was Cas who was in front when the music stopped. A few more minutes it would likely have been reversed.

The style and flow of the match became predictable. If Cas had the ball all eyes were on Rangi Chase, the Kiwi Aussie now England international. He was at the heart of everything and pulled the strings from start to finish. Hull was vulnerable right side with Miller, fresh off the plane, clearly unsure as Chase asked good questions.  Ben Crooks, yes son of Hull, England and Wests Magpies legend Lee Crooks, scored FOUR tries! But he panicked a bit playing next to Miller for one very important try instigated by Chase.

A couple of very soft tries through the middle of Hulls defence with Chase dropping players back against the grain were way too soft and a length of the field try from a loose ball off a Miller bomb sealed it for the Tigers.

The bad news for the Tigers fans (and perhaps England) is that their best player is also their worst. Everything bad for them happened on their left side of defence and Rangi Chase looked blissfully unaware that while the other team has the ball there is a very important part of the game to be dealt with. The rest of us rate defence and tacking and stopping the other team from rattling up metres and points like they are going out of fashion fast. On this performance this is not a view Rangi shares.

Perhaps his new coach will introduce him to this important aspect and help him to help out his teammates sometime real soon.

Hull are missing plenty of talent through injury but as coaches do I am sure Peter Gentle will be disappointed with leading by 10 at half time and losing to a team struggling to clear the bottom section of the ladder.

I loved hearing those passionate Hull fans singing “Old Faithful” from start to finish and seeing Lee Crooks standing with those who sang for him singing for his son must have been awesome to be a part of.  It was for me in my office at 5am 11,000 miles away!

And a word for Cas fans too. It’s a credit to them how they keep supporting their own team in times where the rich get richer in pro sport. I hope that bringing in one of their own, if somewhat prodigal, sons in Darryl as coach will give them the impetus they need in both the short and long term.

Both these clubs give Aussie fans lessons in how to be a ‘speckie” and enjoy the game so much no matter what or as Old Faithful goes – “in any kind of weather”.

A thoroughly enjoyable match.