Vowles constant for Cas

Castleford 33 Hull 26
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The Independent Online

Hull missed a chance to go top of Super League, beaten by a Castleford side suggesting for the first time this season that they might yet pester the top five in traditional manner.

A makeshift Castleford team rose to the challenge, with players like Adrian Vowles and Mark Lennon producing magnificent efforts to make up for those who were missing, while for Hull so important had Jason Smith become to them in his few months in this country that his withdrawal on the morning of the match with a shoulder injury was a far bigger blow than any other absences on either side. "I wouldn't want to detract from Castleford's performance, but there were times when, if Jason Smith had been there, we would have done things differently," said the Hull coach, Shaun McRae.

Four minutes into the game, Vowles made a telling break, Darren Rogers, playing out of position in the centre, took his pass and Lennon showed his pace by racing over.

Hull badly needed to settle to the task and Paul Broadbent helped them do so by powering his way over for a try against his home-town club, but Castleford continued to look the more motivated side and regained the lead through further marvellous work from Vowles. The Tigers' captain, so often an inspiration for them, created another opening and Rogers, revelling in his new role, scored his 50th try for the club.

Just before the quarter-way mark, Castleford were further ahead, Dale Fritz this time supplying the pass for Jon Wells, another winger transplanted to the centres amid his side's injury crisis, charging 65 yards for their third touchdown and Lennon putting over his second goal. Hull clawed back some ground when Tony Smith and Steve Prescott combined for Gareth Raynor to score.

It had been Castleford's half and the second started the same way with a typical trampling run from Michael Smith setting up the position from which Ian Tonks charged over. Smith was imperious again four minutes later, skipping around a tackle after taking another perfect pass from Vowles.

Paul Cooke and Logan Campbell linked up to send David Maiden over and give Hull a glimmer of hope. Prescott averted another Castleford try by stealing the ball from Jason Flowers on the line, and Tony Smith's pass and Paul King's nimble feet brought Hull right back into it, Prescott's kick narrowing the gap to two points.

A contentious penalty allowed Lennon to kick Castleford two points further ahead but a repeat of the draw between the two sides at The Boulevard earlier this season looked a possibility until Wells grabbed his second try thanks to Andy Speak's switch of play.

Campbell went over from close range, but Vowles' last-minute drop goal ensured that Castleford would get what they deserved.

For Castleford's Graham Steadman, a second win in succession puts a far better gloss on his early days as coach. "There's no reason why we can't build on this," he said.

Castleford: Flowers; Day, Wells, Rogers, Pryce; Healey, Lennon; Sykes, Speak, Sampson, Harland, Fritz, Vowles. Substitutes used: McNally, M Smith, Tonks, Shaw.

Hull: Prescott; C Smith, Parker, Bird, Raynor; Cooke, T Smith; Broadbent, Jackson, Craven, Grimaldi, Carvell, Maiden. Substitutes used: Gene, Campbell, King, Fletcher.

Referee: K Kirkpatrick (Warrington).

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