Wembley-bound Hull FC were left frustrated after Castleford Tigers claimed a win that was largely set-up in the first half at the KCom Stadium.
Trailing by 20 points at the break, which grew bigger in the second half, the league leaders left themselves with too much of a mountain to climb in their opening Super 8s game.
Try as they might, Hull just couldn’t turn the screw enough when it mattered, and a very potent Tigers side took full advantage of the below-par performance from the Black & Whites, who had given everything a week before in their Challenge Cup semi-final against Wigan Warriors.
Lee Radford brought Jordan Abdull into the starting line-up, switching Carlos Tuimavave to centre to replace injured Mahe Fonua, Josh Bowden came straight into the front row to replace Liam Watts after he missed the last two games.
Frank Pritchard came into the starting line-up having started on the bench in the Challenge Cup semi-final win against Wigan Warriors, with Mark Minichiello dropping to the bench, and Curtis Naughton came in on the left wing to replace injury victim Fetuli Talanoa.
Rangi Chase made his first start since returning to the Mend A Hose Jungle.
The Tigers took an early lead after a Denny Solomona break set up the position, and Greg Minikin forced his way over in the corner after three minutes, Luke Gale was wide with the touchline conversion attempt.
A penalty for a high shot on Scott Taylor allowed Hull to set up camp in the Tigers half, however a controversial call by referee Jack Smith gave the visitors a scrum for a knock-on despite the ball clearly going backwards.
Referee Smith then further enraged the home support with a controversial penalty for the Tigers, and then failing to see an obvious forward pass in front of the Hull posts, however scrambling defence from the Black & Whites held them at bay.
A knock on by the Tigers in the middle of the park gave Hull more territory and possession, which was quickly followed by a penalty, however the opportunity was lost when a Sneyd grubber kick went straight to a Tigers defender.
Daryl Popwell’s side were presented with another chance from a penalty, from the position Luke Dorn was held up over the line, but then a swift move to the right saw Ryan Hampshire cross the whitewash in the 19th minute, Luke Gale was successful with the conversion this time.
The visitors extended their advantage after 24 minutes when Gale got a try from a move that included at least three forward passes, however the diminutive half-back was off target with the conversion again.
Hull were denied their first try after 28 minutes by video referee Ben Thaler when Sika Manu had his score rubbed off, from the penalty as a result the Tigers went straight to the other end and Luke Dorn grabbed his try, Gale made it a 20 point lead with the boot.
The Airlie Birds were presented with three consecutive penalties, but a dropped ball by Jordan Thompson let his old club off the hook this time.
The Tigers pressured more as the half drew to a close but were unable to add to their 20 point lead.
The second half started with both sides trying to find some rhythm as possession was at a premium for different reasons with Sneyd and Jordan Abdull particularly keen to turn the Tigers defenders round.
However a strange penalty for the Tigers allowed them the first real opportunity of the half, however the chance was blown when they passed the ball to Steve Michaels just in front of the Hull line.
The Airlie Birds got their first real chance of the half thanks to a penalty but the chance was lost as Taylor lost the ball in the tackle near the visitors line.
Hull’s next attack threatened a try, but a Danny Washbrook kick was claimed by the Tigers whoi then launched a counter attack which ended with a second try for Hampshire after 54 minutes, Gale was unlucky with the conversion hitting the post.
Steve Michaels was denied by the video referee next after a break by Jamie Shaul from a short kick-off saw him pass to the Australian winger, however he was deemed to have a foot in touch before touching down.
The home side finally got on the scoreboard when a fast handling move put Michaels over in the corner in the 63rd minute, Sneyd was just wide with the touchline conversion to leave them with a 20 point gap to bridge.
Hull then forced a goal line drop out on their next foray into Castleford territory, however that chance passed them by as a desperate pass was gobbled up by a Tigers defender.
Hull cranked up the pressure again with a fabulous 40/20 from Danny Houghton, from the resulting scrum the talismanic hooker put Washbrook over for a try with ten minutes remaining on the clock, Sneyd was on target this time with the conversion to keep up his record as the only player to have played, and scored, in every one of his teams games in 2016.
Hull then grabbed another try after an eye-catching attack saw Frank Pritchard produce a delicious offload to put Jamie Shaul over beside the posts with six minutes left on the clock, Sneyd was again successful with the conversion to reduce the arrears to eight points.
Adam Milner was awarded a try under the posts by the video referee in the last minute to set the seal on the Tigers win, Gale added the extras to give them a flattering winning margin.
Hull FC Jamie Shaul, Steve Michaels, Carlos Tuimavave, Kirk Yeaman, Curtis Naughton, Jordan Abdull, Marc Sneyd, Scott Taylor, Danny Houghton, Josh Bowden, Sika Manu, Frank Pritchard, Gareth Ellis: Interchange: Mark Minichiello, Chris Green, Jordan Thompson, Danny Washbrook
Castleford Tigers: Luke Dorn, Ryan Hampshire, Ben Crooks, Greg Minikin, Denny Solomona, Rangi Chase, Luke Gale, Gadwin Springer, Adam Milner, Larne Patrick, Oliver Holmes, Andre Savelio, Junior Moors: Interchange: Lee Jewitt, Paul McShane, Matt Cook, Grant Millington
Hull FC: Tries: Steve Michaels (63) Danny Washbrook (70) Jamie Shaul (73) Goals: Marc Sneyd 2/3
Castleford Tigers: Tries: Greg Minikin (3) Ryan Hampshire (19, 54) Luke Gale (24) Luke Dorn (29) Adam Milner (79) Goals: Luke Gale 3/6
Penalties: Hull FC 7 Castleford Tigers 5
Goal Line Drop Outs: Hull FC 0 Castleford Tigers 1
40/20: Hull FC 1 (Houghton) Castleford Tigers 0
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