Hull FC took the word ‘Friendly’ ripped it up, threw it in the bin and replaced it with the word ‘Nasty’ as they walloped their near neighbours with a sizzling attacking performance which belied the attacking frailties which had dogged their season in 2015.
The Airlie Birds were in a ruthless mood for their first hit out of the year and, after some entertaining early exchanges of tries from both sides, took control and didn’t let go for the majority of the game as they squeezed the life out of a Robins side who were cut apart and gutted like a school of fish on the old fish docks which once dominated trade in this town.
Coach Lee Radford resisted the temptation to start this Clive Sullivan Trophy game with Frank Pritchard in his starting line-up as the New Zealand legend was named on the bench, the starting back-row was Pritchard’s fellow new signing Sika Manu along with 2015 player of the year Mark Minichiello and Jordan Thompson starting at loose-forward.
Curtis Naughton got the nod on the right wing after his impressive display in Hull’s first pre-season game at Doncaster seven days earlier with hat-trick scorer Callum Lancaster waiting for his chance from the bench and Scott Taylor made his debut for the black and white’s in the starting 13.
Marc Sneyd got the game started to a raucous noise from both sets of supporters and both sides started with some vigour as tackles went flying in and it only took referee Robert Hicks two minutes to award the first penalty to the visitors.
The Robins pushed forward and had the black and white’s back pedaling to force a goal line drop out from which they took full advantage for a fast cross-field move to put Josh Mantellato over in the left corner after five minutes, the Italian international added the extras to his try for a six point lead.
Hull moved easily from one end to the other with their big forwards finding meters alarmingly easy to come by with their next set taking them within ten meters of Rovers line but a delicate grubber kick from Sneyd was well watched and mopped up by full-back Ken Sio.
However Hull’s next foray to the Rovers line brought more success as Sika Manu brushed aside three defenders with consummate ease to crash over after 11 minutes, Sneyd brought the scores level with the conversion.
The next mistake came from Sio as he knocked on a regulation kick giving Hull head and feed on the Robins 20 meter line, subsequently a fast move out to the right hand side saw another new boy Mahe Fonua dive over in the corner for his first try after 15 minutes, again Sneyd added the extras to give the black and white’s a six point advantage just as Pritchard came on for his debut.
The first charge down the left from the man known as the tank was greeted with great excitement from the crowd and took the attentions of four defenders to bring him down.
However after another penalty to the visitors Rovers new signing Chris Clarkson engineered a try for Graeme Horne down Rovers rightafter 19 minutes, this time Mantellato was unable to add the conversion leaving the Airlie Birds two points in front.
From the kick off it was Hull’s turn to ramp up the defensive heat and force a goal line drop out but somehow the visitors scrambled to keep them out and then referee Hicks awarded them a fourth penalty.
The resulting attack after that penalty saw a high kick taken dead by full-back Jamie Shaul forcing another goal line drop out.
A third penalty for the home side was dispatched to the touchline and set up a scintillating move which saw Shaul scamper through the Rovers defensive line far too easily to race over from 30 meters out after a stunning break by Pritchard set the move up, another successful conversion from Sneyd took Hull two scores clear.
Three minutes later Hull were in again as Carlos Tuimavave became the latest debutant to scramble over on the left hand side, Sneyd once again added a majestic touchline conversion to take the score to 24-10 with little over ten minutes to go to half time.
Straight from the restart Tuimavave made a break down Hull’s left again and handed on to Steve Michaels for the former Gold Coast Titan to race in with measured ease as Rovers defence was cut to shreds again, Sneyd made it a 20 point lead for the home side with the conversion.
Two minutes after that Hull’s left hand side was at it again as a swift move opened up a gap on the wing for Naughton to race through and put Shaul over for his 2nd try of the match, another conversion from Sneyd made it 36-10 as the shell-shocked Robins started clock-watching waiting for the half-time hooter.
As the break approached the home side became rather casual and handed a chance to the visitors with back to back scrums in their half of the field and then in a frantic final few seconds of the half Hicks wiped the tackle count clean after a Hull player stopped a grubber kick.
Rovers were then given a penalty as Jack Logan received treatment on the pitch before bein replaced by trialist Lee Smith, however the Robins were unable to make it count as yet another error saw a pass intended for Mantellato flew into touch.
Black and White supporters were pleased to see Logan come back on for the restart and Callum Lancaster also came on at the start of the 2nd half.
Lancaster was soon involved as a slip up in the Rovers defence gave the young winger the chance to hack the ball forward but the visitors were fortuitously able to get the ball back into the field of play to avoid a goal line drop out, however they were forced to drop out after the next attacking kick.
Unfortunately that opportunity was wasted by Hull with a knock on just on the edge of Rovers 20 meter area.
The half started with a comedy of errors from both sides with the Airlie Birds looking by far the more threatening again but also looking rather too casual until the 48th minute when Scott Taylor barged his way over for a try on his debut against his former club, Sneyd inevitably added the extras from in front of the posts.
For a seemingly ‘pointless’ match both sides were giving some great effort and the home side in particular were treating their supporters to some great attacking rugby league and, despite the one-sided scoreline, Hull KR were also trying out some attractive looking moves although with far less success they did deserve some credit for trying them as the black and white supporters chanted “We want 50”.
The element of fun among the home support particularly was increased after Rovers talisman Albert Kelly knocked on 30 meters from the Hull line in broken field and the Old Faithful chanted “Are you Dixon in disguise”.
Shortly after that Hull swept up to the other end of the field and Mark Minichiello crashed overwith 23 minutes remaining on the clock, the now customary conversion from Sneyd took Hull within two points of the half century.
The black and white’s were being far too aggressive and clinical for the Robins to cope with and a visible confidence was running through the side who were, for most of their team, having their first hit out of the year after a mainly youth team had dispatched league 1 side Doncaster seven days before.
Another barnstorming break from Pritchard down Hull’s lethal left hand side then created a try for trialist Lee Smith with 18 minutes left to bring up the half century that their supporters had been baying for and sent many red and white fans scurrying for the exits, another fantastic conversion from Sneyd made it 54-10.
Three minutes later it got even more embarrassing for the Robins as Smith made a break down the left and a deft pass inside put Tuimavave in for his 2nd try, Sneyd made it 10 out of 10 conversions to bring up the record derby score of 60 points.
Hull continued to try all the party tricks to entertain their supporters whilst some of the hardy souls in red and white chanted their backing for their thoroughly and hopelessly outclassed side who must now surely look like not much more than relegation candidates after being thumped at home by Huddersfield as well last week.
They did get something to cheer as Kieron Dixon was able to cross on their right hand side with eight minutes left, Ryan Shaw was wide of the mark from his touchline conversion.
A helpful penalty then presented them with another attacking position in Hull territory but this time Dixon was bundled into touch by a fast covering black and white defence.
Dixon however repeated the dose with three minutes left as a kick from Kelly was batted onto the wing man to cross unopposed, Ryan Shaw added the conversion to bring up 20 points for the Robins.
Pritchard was named man of the match as the Airlie Birds rounded off their record-breaking win with a slow last few minutes.
Penalties Hull 6 Rovers 6
Goal Line Drop Out Hull 2 Rovers 2
Man of the Match Frank Pritchard