Written by Zack Wilson
Photo by Hull Daily Mail
Hull Kingston Rovers passed an important test on Sunday, when they beat Castleford Tigers thanks to a golden point drop goal from Danny McGuire.
The final score of 27-26 showed how close a see-saw game had been, with both sides taking what looked like winning leads at times in the game.
The Robins had made the early running, but it was the Tigers who were leading 26-14 in the game’s last quarter.
Rovers showed spirit and quality to fight back and then win the game.
Danny McGuire was born for moments like his clinching drop goal.
The veteran halfback set it up himself, kicking a 40-20 in the first set after kick off in extra time.
He then took responsibility for the moment right away, dropping the goal on the first play of the subsequent set.
His previous misses counted for nothing as McGuire showed why he remains such an important figure at KCOM Craven Park.
Rovers would almost certainly have lost that game before Tony Smith arrived.
The Robins’ main issue for around half a decade has been confidence – too often leads have been surrendered and close games lost in the last few years.
But on Sunday they finally looked like a team who know how to win close games, who can edge out opponents when it really matters.
That quality is vital when it comes to staving off the threat of relegation.
However Smith has done it, he has managed to create positive change at Rovers, though there is still plenty of work to be done.
The urgency with which Smith has applied himself to recruitment is clearly one plank of the process.
After Harvey Livett and Luis Johnson were recalled to Warrington Wolves from loan spells in east Hull, the club moved quickly to bring in Dean Hadley and Russ Litten.
Both players were involved on Sunday, and they certainly made a difference to the team, especially in the absence of Matt Parcell.
Smith himself certainly had reservations about the performance, and feels that there are still issues around consistency to be dealt with.
“We certainly weren’t disciplined, we gave away way too many penalties,” he told his club’s official website.
“When we turned our focus to what was important, playing rugby league, I thought we did that a whole lot better in the second half. We came back in from a position that wasn’t great.
“There was some great stuff in amongst it, I love it when the players have a crack and they did, they worked hard and got what they deserved. Some of it was planned and some of it wasn’t planned.
“I think that they have always given their best since I have been here, but some days it just comes off better and sometimes it’s just the right timing.”
Smith, as well as the Rovers support, will hope that it “comes off’ more often than not before the end of the season.