Two sides from the lower half of the Super League table had the chance of a confidence boosting Challenge Cup win and a place in the quarter finals which were now devoid of the likes of the Leeds Rhinos and the Catalans Dragons as Hull FC mad the trip down the M62 to visit Wheldon Road for a game against the Castleford Tigers.
After three of recent wins the Airlie Birds are sat in ninth place in the table and are six points clear of the Tigers, who themselves have only managed two wins out of the twelve games that they have played so far this season.
The visitors were the favourites with the bookies, but there wasn´t much between the two sides, it looked like it could be a cup classic.
A ball steal and breakaway try from Jake Clifford looked to have opened the afternoon´s scoring but after the video referee watched the ball steal, he saw a two on one ball steal and after initially pressing the ´TRY´ button he corrected his error and ruled no try.
After absorbing early Castleford pressure, it was Hull who scored the first points on eight minutes when Josh Griffin took a short Jake Trueman pass on the Tigers ten metres and weaved through three tacklers to score by the left upright. Jake Clifford added the conversion, the Airlie Birds up and running.
The game settled into a pattern with both defences on top, aided by some clunkiness in attack. On twenty-three the visitors stretched the Tigers defence again with Adam Swift benefitting from a bit of luck after a Clifford grubber took a ricochet, was regained, and then passed out to the winger in good space. Clifford added the goal from the touchline for a 12-0 lead. The Tigers needed to score next, or the game was slipping beyond them.
But it was Hull who went in again on twenty-eight, Swift diving acrobatically for the line to ground one-handed by the left corner flag. Clifford was just wide with his conversion, Castleford now with a mountain to climb.
Three minutes later and FC scored a brilliant team try with eight passes through a stretched and broken Tigers defence, the ball ending up in Jack Brown´s hands for the half back to ground. Clifford added the conversion to his own try for a 22-0 lead.
Two minutes before the interval the home side grabbed themselves the slenderest of lifelines with Mahe Fonua taking the pass to ground in the right corner. The conversion from Paul McShane was wide of the uprights, FC taking an eighteen-point lead into the break.
Total early FC pressure paid dividends when after a repeat set on forty-four, fast hands from Hull gifted Jordan Lane a try in the right corner. Clifford was wide with the conversion attempt; the game was looking beyond any Tigers fightback.
Swift competed his hat-trick on the hour mark after he´d initially made a great break downfield. After a fast play the ball Clifford floated a long pass to his winger to go in down the left touchline. Clifford was on target from the touchline for a 32-4 lead.
It was too little, and too late, on sixty-eight when Will Tate took a tip pass and came inside the Hull tackler to score the second Tigers score of the afternoon. Jacob Hookem was wide with his conversion attempt, Castleford still not into double figures.
Josh Griffin knocked on in the act of scoring on seventy-three and his protest to referee Liam Moore saw him yellow carded for dissent.
Ninety seconds from the final hooter Cam Scott leapt for the line but the video referee spotted that despite a dramatic dive he´d grounded the ball on the line.
Jake Clifford totally bossed the game and was the inspiration for the Hull victory which puts them into the quarter final draw. It was a disciplined side who, despite making a few errors, were never in any danger of elimination. Castleford Tigers, on the other hand, look increasingly desperate and will be thankful that Wakefield Trinity are in an even more desperate league situation than they are. The Tigers will now be focussed on avoiding the drop, FC will be looking for a good tie in the quarters.
Castleford Tigers: Broadbent, Fonua (T), Sutcliffe, Turner, Tate (T), Westerman, McShane, Massey, Lawler, Matagi, Martin, Mellor, Hall. Subs: Griffin, Mustapha, Robb, Hookem. 18th Man: Hill.
Hull FC: Hoy, Swift (3T), Sutcliffe, Tuimavave, Scott, Trueman, Clifford (4G), Fash, Houghton, Satae, Griffin (T, SB on 73), Lane (T), Gator. Subs: Brown (T), Dwyer, Gardiner, Staveley. 18th Man: Lovodua.
Score Progression: 0-4, 0-6, 0-10, 0-12, 0-16, 0-20, 0-22, 4-22 : HT: 4-26, 4-30, 4-32, 8-32, (SB) : FT.
Lead Exchanges: Hull.
Referee: Liam Moore.