|Hull KR (12) 26|
|Tries: Lewis 2, Parcell, Linnett Goals: Abdull 5|
|Castleford (13) 19|
|Tries: Evalds 2, Olpherts Goals: Richardson 3 Drop-goal: Richardson|
Hull KR overturned a half-time deficit to beat Castleford, one of their main rivals for the two remaining Super League play-off places.
Tony Smith’s Robins climbed to fifth ahead of Cas, to set up a final round of games when either they or Leeds can still book their place in the top six.
If Cas beat third-placed Warrington on Thursday, they are assured of top six.
The other place would then be a showdown between Leeds ands Rovers, who meet on Friday at Emerald Headingley.
It would mean a return to Leeds for veteran Robins coach Smith. But ex-Rhinos favourite Ryan Hall, Super League’s 15-try second top scorer, departed the action at half-time with a shoulder injury on his 300th appearance.
And Smith has already ruled out both him and fellow injured back Greg Minikin and says the pair are unlikely to play again this season.
After taking the lead with Mikey Lewis’s converted try, Cas turned it round with two tries.
The first came from supporting full-back Niall Evalds, brilliantly set up by a storming run from Oliver Holmes, then Derrell Olpherts went over in the corner, both improved by Danny Richardson.
Lewis wriggled over for another try converted by the fit-again Jordan Abdull to tie it up again at 12-12.
Richardson’s drop-goal earned Cas a slender one-point half-time lead, which then became two scores when Michael Shenton set up Evalds for his second try just after the break.
But two tries in quick succession from Matt Parcell, after Abdull’s bomb had caused havoc, and Kane Linnett, both converted by Abdull, put Rovers back three points in front.
Cas could not find another way through and Abdull even added a final last-minute penalty to stretch the winning margin to five points.
Cas boss Daryl Powell says that Liam Watts and Grant Millington are likely to be fit to play Warrington, while injured hooker Paul McShane also still has a chance.
Who needs what next week?
Going into the final round of fixtures, League Leaders’ Shield winners Catalans Dragons and reigning Super League champions St Helens, the runners-up in the 2021 table, are guaranteed to finish in the top two.
They will be joined in the play-offs by third-placed Warrington and fourth-placed Wigan, whose win percentage, currently 58.33, cannot drop below 56 even if they lose at home to the Dragons next Friday and are now certain to finish fourth.
But that leaves the question of who will finish fifth and sixth and fill those final two play-off place.
- Castleford: If Daryl Powell’s current club beat Warrington, the club he is to join for 2022, they will have a win percentage of 52.17. That could then be bettered by only one of Leeds or Hull KR. If Cas lose, they will be on 47.22 – and would miss out.
- Leeds: If Richard Agar’s Rhinos beat Hull KR, they would have a win percentage of 54.17 and would finish fifth. If they lose, they would be on 50 – and would only make the top six if Cas have failed to win the night before.
- Hull KR: If the Robins beat Leeds, they would have a win percentage of 55 and would finish fifth. If they lose, they would be on 50. Like Leeds, they would only then make the top six if Cas have failed to win the night before.
Hull KR coach Tony Smith:
“It was not pretty but very gutsy. We had to dig in there. We had to find a way against a couple of things. But we found it. Some players came up with some big moments for us. It’s good when you can find a way when you need to.
“We worked hard, but we weren’t particularly smart at times. We weren’t finishing our sets well enough in the first half and that put pressure on us.
“But we came up with some big players in the second half and they paid off for us. Will Dagger was great at the back there and Kane Linnett and Shaun Kenny-Dowall were great for us too.”
Castleford coach Daryl Powell:
“I’m obviously disappointed. It was tough to take but e live to fight another day. We just have to find a way on Thursday.
“We just didn’t have possession in good field position. We just didn’t have any territory really. We were in front at half-time and I was pleased about that.
“I just thought our game management was poor. We didn’t have the strike or the energy to find a way back into the game. We have to look at ourselves for the reasons why we didn’t win.”
Hull KR: Dagger; Crooks, Minikin, Kenny-Dowall, Hall; Lewis, Abdull; Storton, Takairangi, Linnett, Maher, Parcell, King.
Interchanges: Vete, Litten, Johnson, Keinhorst.
Castleford: Evalds; Olpherts, Mata’utia, Shenton, Clare; Richardson, Turner; Massey, Sene-Lefao, Holmes, Smith, Milner, Griffin.
Interchanges: Foster, O’Neill, Hepi, Matagi.
Referee: James Child (RFL).