Hull FC secured the bragging rights and their place in the coveted Super League Super 8s with a gritty determined win as they became only the third visiting team to win at the KC Lightstream Stadium against bitter rivals Hull KR despite losing two of their most influential players in the first half.
Coach Lee Radford brought back captain Gareth Ellis and Mark Minichiello in the back row for the winner take all derby.
Meanwhile Rovers coach Chris Chester kept half back Albert Kelly in his starting line-up after he passed a late fitness test after picking up an injury in the defeat at Salford Red Devils.
The first mistake came from Rovers winger Josh Mantellato as he sent the kick off out on the full giving the black and white’s possession and territory but eventually a small grubber kick through by Marc Sneyd was gathered by Rovers full-back Kieron Dixon.
Hull’s next attack caused a few hearts in mouths after a kick by Jordan Rankin was not quite pulled in by Fetuli Talanoa over the Rovers line and the video referees ruled out the potential try because of the knock on.
Controversy then ensued as Talanoa was harshly adjudged to have knocked on at halfway giving the robins a scrum but organised defence from the visitor’s kept Rovers attack at bay to force a changeover just in front of the Airlie Birds line.
The first score came about as Rovers were given a soft penalty for offside and eventually Shaun Lunt scrambled over in the 9th minute, the conversion from Mantellato made it a 6 point lead for the home side.
Hull then forced back-to-back penalties but were unable to breach a well drilled Rovers defence and Dixon, for a second time, was able to get back into the field of play after catching a grubber behind his own line.
However Hull’s next attack proved more fruitful as a kick from Sneyd was just kept under control by Steve Michaels for the Aussie winger to bring his side back into the game, Sneyd however was unable to add the touchline conversion leaving the home side leading 6-4 in the 17th minute.
Rovers next opportunity arose when Michaels was adjudged to have knocked the ball out of play behind his own line despite Ken Sio appearing to have touched the ball first, forcing a goal line drop out but the attack seemed slightly unstructured and eventually Maurice Blair was taken down just in front of the visitor’s line to force a handover.
Rovers were soon in again though as Kris Welham chased Kelly’s towering kick and then flicked a pass out to Mantellato for the Italian international to cross the whitewash, his conversion to his own try made it 12-4 in the 27th minute.
After another Rovers attack which ended with a nothing kick over the dead ball line by Kelly the Airlie Birds then marched dangerously to the other end and a fast cross-field passing move finished with Tom Lineham finishing in the right corner, the conversion by Sneyd brought Hull back within two points of Rovers again as the half hour approached.
The next chance for Hull came as Rovers lost the ball in their own half and after a scrambled, untidy move to the right Lineham somehow got over in the right corner despite the attentions of three defenders to give them the lead going into the break, the conversion from Sneyd made it 12-16.
A note of caution for the black and white’s was that Leon Pryce and Ellis had both been taken off in the first half due to injuries which had left them short on options on the bench for the second half.
The visitor’s started the half with more purpose than their hosts and caused panic early as Talanoa hunted a try from a grubber before Mantellato managed to rescue the situation.
The next attack caused a goal line drop out but Mantellato fortuitously found touch with the drop out to give the home side a scrum near the halfway line.
Rovers then upped the pace with several eye-catching moves causing Hull’s defence to go into scramble mode especially when teenage centre Jack Logan had to get back to catch a kick through by Kelly with Liam Salter and Ken Sio closing in on the chance.
Hull then went to the other end and a high bomb by Jordan Abdull was taken by Sio but then lost in the challenge with Michaels who then pounced on the loose ball to tap the ball down to stretch Hull’s advantage and the conversion from Sneyd made it 12-22 after 54 minutes.
Rovers were then presented with a chance after a high tackle by Liam Watts on Dixon gave them a penalty and Tony Puletua was held up over the line.
Another opportunity came the way of the Robins after a kick through was kicked dead by Jordan Rankin causing the black and white’s to have to drop out from under their own posts for a second time but again the opportunity was bombed by the home side as teenager Logan made a fortuitous interception.
A break by Lineham then caused panic in the Rovers defence and when Sneyd followed up his own grubber over the line Sio had to knock the ball dead to prevent the half back from scoring.
Jack Logan was disallowed a seemingly good try for a knock-on in the 70th minute by the the video referee.
Rovers continued to try and take the game to their rivals as the clock ran down but Hull’s defence kept scrambling and answering the questions they were being asked and they forced a chance with less than five minutes to go but Kelly’s pass to Puletua was just slightly forward causing referee Richard Silverwood to bring the prop back from under the posts.
A professional performance for the remaining time, as it had been for the majority of the game, saw the clock down and jubilant scenes for the black and white’s fans as they contemplated the Super 8s whilst their near neighbour’s stare down the barrel of a scrap for their Super League lives in the Middle 8s.
Penalties- Rovers 5 Hull 4
Goal Line Drop Outs- Rovers 2 Hull 2
Man of the Match- Mark Minichiello