Clark lifts Castleford to the summit

Castleford 27 Hull KR 14
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The Independent Online

If we had been told that Castleford would be top of the Super League table at this stage, that would have been hard enough to believe. After this hard-earned victory, however, they are not only top but have a game in hand on most of their rivals. Heady times indeed.

Second-half tries from Daryl Clark and Kirk Dixon clinched a third win in a row, after a first half in which Hull KR were well on top. "I thought we were lucky to only be 14-12 down at half-time," said the Tigers' coach, Terry Matterson. "I didn't think we were great first half, but we came out after half-time with a different attitude."

The Rovers coach, Justin Morgan, admitted to "too many fundamental errors" after his side went down to their third defeat in four starts. He has re-inforcements arriving this week in the shape of the long-awaited Willie Mason, and there was a strong hint that the combative Kangaroo forward could go straight into the side to face Crusaders on Sunday. "All the indications are that he's ready to go," Morgan said.

Bright Yorkshire sunshine and equally bright early-season form gave Castleford a sense of occasion, and the afternoon started promisingly enough for the home team, who took the lead after five minutes when Oliver Holmes won the race to Rangi Chase's kick.

The rest of the half, however, was dominated by Rovers, who coped admirably without their injured strategist, Michael Dobson. Scott Murrell, playing scrum-half in his absence, put up the kick for the equalising try, with Nick Youngquest only managing to knock the ball down for Clint Newton to drop on to.

Chase's failure to handle a difficult low pass conceded the possession for the Robins' second. Although Blake Green's rushed pass bounced, it did so straight into the arms of Craig Hall.

After Jake Emmitt was penalised for a high tackle, Murrell fed Ben Galea for the third Rovers' try. Hall could only convert the first of the trio and it was a ball that rebounded off him that enabled Cas to bounce back. Brett Ferres picked up the scraps and, although he did not have the pace to go the length of the field, Youngquest arrived in time to help him out.

Early in the second half, hooker Clark, 17, of whom Cas have great hopes, darted over from dummy half to give his side the lead. The Tigers then had a series of chances to turn that into a match-winning advantage, but did not do so until 10 minutes from time, when Dixon got on the end of a move involving Richie Mathers and Joe Arundel to score in the corner.

Dixon landed the conversion, plus a long-range penalty, before Chase's last- minute drop goal sealed it. Castleford are somewhere they never expected to be, but, on their performances so far this season, they deserve to be.

Castleford: Mathers; Dixon, Ferres, Arundel, Youngquest; Chase, Orr, Jackson, Milner, Huby, Holmes, Jones, Emmitt. Substitutes used: Aspinwall, Walker, Clark, Widders.

Hull KR: Briscoe; Fox, Hall, Welham, Colbon; Green, Murrell; Vella, Hodgson, Watts, Newton, Galea, Netherton. Substitutes used: Wheeldon, Cockayne, Taylor, Fisher.

Referee: R Silverwood (Mirfield).