A largely youthful Hull FC side got the clubs 150th Anniversary year off to a winning start with a hard fought 29-28 victory against Championship side Doncaster at the Keepmoat Stadium yesterday.
With Feka Paleaaesina, Chris Green and Liam Watts the only senior players in the side for the first game of a double header for the visitors it was a team that had its roots in the aspiring under 19s team who were all out to impress the watching Lee Radford against stern opposition.
New signing Curtis Naughton was handed the chance to shine in the battle for the full back position and this he did with 2 tries and 4 goals for a personal haul of 16 points.
After a very physical opening to the game it was the visitors who settled into their rhythm first and were soon rattling up points and showing some great handling skills and stand off Jordan Abdull stood out as he swaggered around the pitch pushing even his more senior colleagues into the right areas.
Hull raced into a 16-0 lead inside the opening quarter of an hour, the first try came from Naughton after he supported a great break down the left by Abdull.
Shortly after that some fast hands from left to right allowed winger Callum Smith to finish assuredly in the corner and then scrum half Harry Tyson-Wilson made a smart break in broken play and handed on to Jack Logan for the centre to race in under the posts.
Two soft penalties allowed Doncaster to build pressure on the Hull line and Mike Kelly took advantage to barge over for the hosts first try which was converted by winger Stewart Sanderson.
A few minutes later Doncaster were in again as a fast move down their left exposed some more defensive frailties and allowed Sanderson to score in the corner, the winger hit the post with the conversion attempt but still Doncaster were back in the game at 16-10.
Hull built pressure again on the Doncaster line but a chance was spurned as the ball was dropped just 10 metres from the Doncaster line.
Hull finished the half more sprightly and a 40 metre break from Callum Lancaster down the left wing was supported by Curtis Naughton who cantered in under the posts and added the conversion as the half time hooter sounded to give Hull a 22-10 lead going into the break.
Hull started off the 2nd half with another try, fast hands between Naughton, Joe Arundel and Lancaster led to a gaping hole in the Doncaster defence which Abdull strolled through to get the try that his performance deserved, another Naughton conversion left the score at 28-10.
Russ Spiers grabbed a smart try for Doncaster to reduce the arrears to 28-16 and then a moment of controversy led to the gap being reduced to 6 points. The worrying factor for Hull was Dave Scott brushed off 5 would-be tacklers on his way to scoring but during his run a Hull player was clearly obstructed by Scott running behind one of his own team mates, but with the new obstruction rule in place the referee allowed play to carry on as Scott went over beside the posts.
By this point Doncaster were very much in the ascendency and sniffing a shock comeback victory and another try came from Jack Walton for them despite a forward pass which the referee clearly missed and so with less than 10 minutes to go the scores were level at 28 all.
However with just 4 minutes remaining Hull again showed some smart game management to build pressure on the home line and Abdull capped a man of the match performance by stroking over a drop goal to claim the victory that they deserved.
There was still time for some drama as Doncaster forced a scrum on the Hull 10 metre line but the defence scrambled well to keep them at bay and prevent any further addition to the scoring.