Castleford 30 Hull 28: Ben Crooks haul fails to clinch thrilling contest as Castleford edge Hull


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The Independent Online

The name Crooks is a celebrated one at these two clubs, thanks to the exploits for both of the former Great Britain prop, Lee Crooks.

A first four-try haul of his career by his son, Ben, last night should have been enough to clinch a thrilling contest for Hull, had it not been for a golden cameo from Rangi Chase and a spectacular try, worthy of winning any game, from James Clare.

“It was an unbelievable game of rugby league,” said Castleford’s Daryl Powell. “You couldn’t guess how it was going to work out, but Rangi got hold of it in those minutes after half-time.”

For a match so deep into the season, there was a surprising element of novelty about this one. Not only was it Powell’s first home game as Castleford coach, but Hull have welcomed a new Australian scrum-half this week in Jacob Miller. Like a few of his predecessors, the 20-year-old from West Tigers is supposed to be ‘The Answer’, so straight into the side he came, after only three training sessions with his new team-mates.

They did not need a contribution from their new boy to their first try, on their first attack, after two minutes; just a break through some weak defence, made by the former Cas player, Joe Westerman, and a perfectly-timed pass to Crooks.

  It did not take the Tigers long to equalise, Richard Owen pinching the ball from the grasp of Jason Crookes, under Chase’s wide kick. Miller was having trouble getting into the game, but that was perhaps to be expected.

Hull should have regained the lead on the back of an 85-metre kick-return from Shannon McDonnell, but, not for the only time in the first-half, they lacked composure near the try-line.There was no mistake just after the half-hour, however, when Andy Lynch's short pass sent Liam Watts away for Aaron Heremaia to score. Worse still for Cas, Clare knocked on near his line and, from the scrum, Crooks charged through for his  second.

Two conversions from Daniel Holdsworth made it a 10-point lead at half-time, which looked a relatively secure one in view of Castleford’s failure to make a single clean break. Chase changed that with a piece of magic, releasing Kirk Dixon with a perfect pass and supporting him to score, even throwing in a little boogie in the in-goal area for good measure.

Chase had endured a miserable week since coming on as a substitute for England last Friday night, but now he had the scent of it, producing the ball that sent Craig Huby through for Daryl Clark to touch down and give Cas the lead for the first time. Then the inspired half-back kicked the 40-20 that created the position for Jonathan Walker to score. Chase had turned the game on its head in 10 minutes.

Tom Lineham’s block-busting run laid on a second for Heremaia as Hull came back into it. The stage was set for Miller to really run at the defence for the first time, getting his pass away for Crooks’ equaliser and his hat-trick.

It took something to upstage that, but Clare produced it with a length-of-the field break-away. Miller’s pass sent Crooks in for his fourth, but Holdsworth could not land the levelling conversion and Lineham was stopped inches short in the last minute.

Castleford: Tansey; Clare, Dixon, Shenton, Owen; Hauraki, Chase; Huby, Milner, Boyle, Millington, Holmes, Massey. Substitutes used: Clark, Thompson, Walker, Davies.

Hull: McDonnell; Lineham, Crooks, Arundel, Crookes; Holdsworth, Miller; O’Meley, Houghton, Green, Westerman, Whiting, Pitts. Substitutes used:: Heremaia, Lynch, Watts, Galea.

Referee: J Child (Dewsbury)