Hull KR 20 Hull FC 22, Stunning comeback bags derby bragging rights for Airlie Birds

Hull FC proved they have sheer guts and determination to claim the first derby bragging rights of the Super League season in thrilling fashion at the KC Lightstream Stadium.

Being 20 points down after nearly an hour the men from the KC Stadium produced a comeback some would have thought impossible in the pressure cooker that is the Hull Derby.

Full-Back Jamie Shaul was the main catalyst with a 60 meter try and then a fabulous kick-return which set up the position for a try by Vice-Captain Danny Houghton five minutes later.

Coach Lee Radford brought Mahe Fonua back into the starting 13 as the former Melbourne Storm man returned from injury that had kept him out since his debut on the opening weekend of the season.

Frank Pritchard was restored to the starting line-up as well after starting from the bench against Wakefield Trinity Wildcats and former Rovers prop Liam Watts came back into the starting side as well as Josh Bowden dropped to the bench.

Feka Palea’aesina was brought into the 17 for his first appearance of the season for the black and whites as Sika Manu dropped out for the first time in his debut season.

The first drama came within the opening minute as Josh Mantellato returned a deep kick from Marc Sneyd and appeared to drop the ball in the tackle which Carlos Tuimavave pounced on to score only to be controversially denied by video referee James Child.

The Robins were seeing most of the ball and territory in the early stages but a resilient defence from the black and whites was continually keeping them out with some superb scrambling.

The home side took the lead after 13 minutes as Ryan Shaw crossed in the right corner after a peach of a pass from Ken Sio, Mantellato was off target with the touchline conversion attempt.

Hull were able to build sustained pressure for the first time on the home line with a penalty and then forced a goal line drop out but, after the tackle count had been wiped down a knock on by Watts relieved the pressure for the Robins.

Big hits were flying in with great regularity as Scott Taylor and Ben Cockayne were making themselves felt by their opposition on both sides with some particularly fearsome hits.

Hull were again denied by the video referee, correctly this time, as Danny Washbrook touched down after competing for a Sneyd kick with Cockayne and knocking on.

Hull then tried to be too elaborate with a back-flip pass which was intercepted by Sio who went 60 meters after 30 minutes, Mantellato was successful with the conversion this time to make it a ten point lead for the home side.

Hull were being their own worst enemies with some stupid mistakes from forcing passes that weren’t on or trying too hard when they got near the home side’s line.

Mantellato was presented with a penalty bang in front of the posts and duly obliged to stretch their lead to 12 points with two minutes to go to half-time.

A scrappy first half was then brought to a close as Rovers hooker John Boudebza took a pathetic swan dive from a nothing shoulder charge which ignited a bit of fisticuffs and gave the home side a penalty which led to nothing after the hooter had sounded.

The Robins got the rub of the green early in the second half being given a harsh penalty after losing the ball at the first tackle.

The Airlie Birds first push at the home line came from a penalty but a forward pass from Sneyd brought the chance to an end frustratingly.

Another attack by Hull asked more questions of the Robins defence but again the home side stood firm until Mantellato was able to pouch a last tackle kick from Danny Houghton.

Video referee Child was called upon again as Iain Thornley somehow held off two defenders to role over the line after 51 minutes to be awarded the try, Mantellato was on target with the conversion from wide out.

Another penalty came to the home side from a high tackle on talismanic scrum-half Albert Kelly, Mantellato made it a 20 point lead for them.

A short kick off from the Airlie Birds presented the home side with more possession and territory but this time a knock-on stopped their momentum.

Just as the Robins were contemplating a first nilling of their great rivals in the Super League era the black and whites finally got on the scoreboard with a beautiful offload inside by Kirk Yeaman putting full-back Jamie Shaul away down the left to go 60 meters on the hour, Marc Sneyd added the extras from wide out.

A superb flowing move involving eight passes then put Houghton over beside the posts to establish there was still a game to be played, Sneyd then added the conversion to bring Hull back within eight points of their neighbours.

Hull were suddenly in the driving seat as the seesaw nature of the game afforded them some territory and possession at last which was being exploited by some frantic attacking moves and passing.

Another penalty then saw Houghton put Fonua over with nine minutes remaining to put them back within one score, Sneyd was wide with the conversion but from a seemingly hopeless position the black and whites had all the momentum at 20-16.

In an unbelievable turnaround Steve Michaels then brought the Airlie Birds level as Fonua put him away down the outside and the Australian calmly rounded Cockayne to score with five minutes left to play, Sneyd gave the Airlie Birds a two point lead with the conversion.

The frantic pace of the game was suddenly stopped with less than two minutes left after an injury to Kirk Yeaman brought a stop to play.

Passionate defence from the black and whites then saw them close the match out to claim the unlikeliest of wins.

Penalties- Rovers 9 Hull 7

Goal Line Drop Outs- Rovers 2 Hull 0

Attendance: 11,050

Man of the Match: Jamie Shaul

Advertisements

Neil Hudgell Reflection And Vision

Neil Hudgell is looking forward to the 10th year for Hull KR in Super League, a season which sees him with the same relaxed demeanor but one which barely masks a burning ambition.

First he harks back to the beginning of his time as chairman when he saved them from financial and Rugby League oblivion: “We were at the bottom but just slightly coming out of the bottom, we were in administration and Don Robinson had bought the club on behalf of a company called Gain Group and acquired the stadium.”

Then his path to the top job became clear: “Peter May and Colin McNichol had been brought in as two local businessmen and two lifelong supporters of Rovers and then I came on board as a sponsor, got to know the lads and started to do some legal work for them and then I became a director.

“Basically they all jumped off leaving me more or less on my own so I brought back Phil Lowe, Paul Lakin came on board and that was like 12 years ago.

“We’d bottomed out, there was no money in the kitty and we were in the National League sort of mid-table, going nowhere and treading water.

Then another name was mentioned regarding the transformation the club was going through at that time. “Of course I got Rob Crossland in as well so that was sort of bottom but just turning upwards slightly.

“Then we had Malcolm Reilly as coach alongside Martin Hall and that never worked so Malcolm left and Martin resigned so short term we brought Harvey Howard in who didn’t work out.

“The sort of the beginning of the real upward turn was when we recruited Justin Morgan, heard about him via Tony Smith, he came from Toulouse who he got to the Challenge Cup semi-final that year in 2005.

“Interviewed Justin and he started just towards the end of that season, the year we won the National Rail Cup but flunked on promotion.

“So Justin said about the dead wood he wanted to push out so we pushed them out and gave him maximum salary cap in the National League as it was then and we more or less recruited a new team.

“James Webster was one the other Australian was Tangata-Toa but the main ones and probably the mainstay of the side that got us into Super League was probably Ben Fisher at hooker, Ben Cockayne at full-back those two.

“Gareth Morton had a big kicking boot on him and Webster was instrumental as well and Michael Smith in the back row, so we sort of constructed a team that we thought would be good enough to get us up but also to get Super League contracts because the whole thing at the time was you’d got to get a side that was good enough to keep you up as well as get you up because there’s this idea that if players are knowing that they’re not going to be good enough to perform in the elite then when it comes down to the cut and thrust of the end of the season they might not give their best because they might talk themselves out of a job.

“So we invested heavily and eventually it paid off and we got promoted and got to a Challenge Cup semi-final.”

The first season in Super League in 2007 is obviously a source of great pride for this very relaxed but competitive man and a glint appears in the eye as he talks of early successes as his side won four of their first five games in the top-flight:

He said:”Four of our first five games we beat Wakefield at home, last minute, Ben Cockayne scored.

“Then we won away at Huddersfield and then I think we lost at home to London but then we won at Wigan and beat Leeds, so we won four of our first five so that meant we were never bottom of the table all season.

“After those first five we lost six on the trot and then we had the Paul Cooke saga, Paul came over first game we just lost narrowly to Huddersfield but then we beat Hull FC at magic and then we beat Wigan again so Paul gave us a bit of catalyst when we’d hit a bit of a trough.

“Then we had another trough and we brought in Rhys Lovegrove and we rallied at the end, we beat Salford and Hull again to ensure our safety but we were never at the bottom of the league the entire season and I think that was a mind-set thing because it was always going to be either us or Salford.

“A big week was when we won in Catalans on Bastille Day and Salford lost so that gave us a 4 point push and that momentum to stay above them and stay up.”

We then moved onto the subject of fans expectations after that early success and the answer is very strongly delivered: “Well expectations are always high in Hull no matter what, you win three games and people think you’re gonna be world beaters, fans now I think would have expectations beyond where we would normally sit which is about the bottom half of the top 8.

“There’s a top 4 that’s usually there or thereabouts and Huddersfield are just sort of battling to get in there as well now and then there’s a clutch of clubs battling it out for the next four positions and we’re sort of bottom of that and that is our natural rank if you look at the side, the support base and the facilities.”

We then move onto the Tony Larvin episode and whether it was difficult for the club to move on from that, the reply is very swift and decisive: “It’s interesting you raise that, I didn’t think it had credible legs at any point and if you actually follow the media coverage the whole time there was nothing that anybody said in the club that would give any encouragement that it was gonna happen.

“The whole publicity came from Tony himself and the Hull Daily Mail got hold of that and decided in their infinite wisdom that they were gonna run the story or a series of stories around it so it was never, it never got off first base in my mind.”

There is clearly still a wish in this engaging man’s mind to see Rovers as a self-financing club as the subject is broached: “Yes I think anybody in any business wants to make a profit or, if not, to at least break-even.

“Rugby League in the main is an expensive luxury for those who own the clubs there’s only a few who are profitable, I mean Leeds sit miles ahead of anybody else and the likes of Saints and Wigan that are profitable but possibly have some historic debt, or certainly would have had historic debt.

“We’ve probably made an honest surplus on last year but that’s because of Wembley and the boxing but that’s an unusual year but on the whole rugby is still not a cash rich sport.”

Another subject to be chewed over is what the man himself thinks is his proudest achievement as chairman of Hull KR, this draws a slightly less sure than normal answer: “Err I dunno, getting into Super League, staying in Super League, getting to Wembley, I don’t think we’ve got the proudest moment yet because we’re still working on it but at this point in time I suspect probably getting out the gutter and actually becoming a serious contender at the top table, being in Super League and when you look at the day-to-day durge I suppose being in Super League for 10 years is a bit of an achievement.”

Ground improvements are the next subject but are plans imminent to put another stand at the opposite end of the ground to the newest stand at the KC Lightstream Stadium? “Yeah there are plans for another stand but the key at the moment is to fill what we’ve got, we’re not at capacity so there’s no pressing urgency but I’d like to finish the ground off in the next two or three years.”

The conversation then turns to the academy merger and the subsequent decision by Hull FC to run an under 23s team, are there any such plans for Rovers, the answer leaves no doubt whatsoever: “No it’s not on the horizon, I don’t think there’s any need if that’s what Adam wants to do then that’s up to him.”

Looking at the season just past there is obviously some regret and some things that could maybe have been done differently: “You can always learn and develop I think, certainly key parts of the season where we lost players, every club has injuries but we really suffered especially with our halves.

“Our front row was also very light at times during the season as well, I think we were really disappointing in some games and maybe our preparation could have been better.”

Inevitably the 10th year in Super League comes into the conversation and Mr Hudgell clearly has certain wishes for the milestone season: “A solid top 8 finish, another cup run, good football that people want to see and increased crowds.”

Finally we get to the subject of the structure of the game now with the new era of the Super 8s and whether he would like to see anything change in the current structure: “I don’t like the structure, I think the fact that we’ve now got it democratically voted in by the narrowest margin means we’ve now got to stick to it, rugby league tends to chop and change and I don’t think that’s good for the game.

“My view is we stick with what we’ve got, in terms of the product I don’t think there’s a lot wrong with it, I think I would change the video referee and how that operates, but on the whole n o I don’t think there’s a lot wrong with the product.”

The idea of giving out the league leaders shield and a World Club Series place after 23 rounds and then starting the Super 8s teams on 0 points again draws a reply relating to a conversation he had with Adam Pearson: “We said do you wanna finish 8th or do you wanna finish 9th, if you finish 8th it’s a seven week hurrah at the end of the season.

“If you finish 9th you’ve got the jeopardy of the middle 8, now we never moved out of third gear apart from half a game against Leigh and against Wakefield, apart from that it was just plain sailing so there was no jeopardy and it was very flat.

“I don’t think there’s any hardened fast or easy solution other than there’s always winners and losers in any play-off system.”

Hull KR supporters could therefore have plenty to look forward to over the coming years with more changes afoot and a chairman with a burning desire that comes across as clear as a bell.

Wigan Warriors 60 Hull KR 0. Injury Stricken Robins Made To Suffer By Rampant Warriors.

Hull KR took to the pitch minus Josh Mantellato, Dane Tilse, Shaun Lunt and captain Terry Campese then, at the last minute Kevin Larroyer had to be withdrawn following an injury in the warm up so Rovers coach Chris Chester brought in youngsters Connor Robinson and Josh Guzdek to put with fellow teenagers Sonny Esslemont and Aaron Ollett and Tyrone McCarthy took the captains armband.

The first try took less than 3 minutes to arrive as Wigan ran the ball on the last tackle and prop Dominic Crosby charged over from 20 meters out, the conversion from Matty Smith gave the home side a 6-0 lead.

The tone was being set very early as, from the kick off, after a few tackles the Warriors shifted the ball from right to left and a move involving Dan Sarginson, Joe Burgess and George Williams from 70 meters out led to a 6th minute try for Burgess under the posts, Smith tagged on the goal for a 12-0 lead.

A penalty caused by the Robins kick off going out on the full led to more pressure on their line and Wigan stretched their advantage as Liam Farrell swept through a non-existent defence for the 3rd try in 8 minutes and Smith again made no mistake to make it 18-0.

Less than 11 minutes had passed as another break down the middle by Farrell teed up a 12th try of the season for Joe Burgess, a fourth goal for Smith made it 24-0 and the match was effectively over as a contest.

Rovers right hand defence was having a genuine nightmare but the middle was also being made to suffer as the home side were finding big yards far too easy to come by even considering the personnel the men from East Yorkshire had missing.

The 15th minute saw another flowing passing move from the Warriors which finished with Joel Tomkins, playing at Centre for the first time since his sides defeat away to Rovers, charging in at the corner to score, Smith missed the conversion from wide out but the Warriors looked very comfortable at 28-0 ahead.

Three minutes later Burgess thought he had his second consecutive hat-trick but he was pulled back for a forward pass by Sarginson.

A goal line drop out was forced as Ben Cockayne was caught behind the line after a precise grubber kick by Williams and this again invited pressure on the visitors line which led to Williams then throwing an absolutely outrageous dummy which was taken hook, line and sinker and left a gap wide enough for a sherman tank for the stand off to dart through and dive in for the 6th try in 21 minutes, the goal from Smith stretched the lead to 34 points.

There was a brief period when Rovers strung a few passes together but at no point did they threaten the home sides line. However Wigan seemed to drop their intensity visibly and at the same time the Robins rolled up the sleeves and seemed determined to shackle the Warriors and this they did with the help of a few uncharacteristic mistakes like forward passes and dropped ball.

Despite not scoring for the last 19 minutes of the first half and some silly mistakes the home side still went in at the break with the game wrapped up at 34-0.

An early penalty in the second half for offside brought more pressure and the first try of the half was awarded by the video referee after a kick from Williams was snaffled by Burgess before offloading to Farrell who, in turn, flicked the ball out to Sarginson to score in the corner, Smith’s touchline conversion saw the cherry and white’s hit 40.

More mistakes cost a fatigued Rovers more and more possession and territory and a poor attitude certainly wasn’t helping them with Wigan in such ruthless mood.

The 52nd minute saw the video referee called upon again by referee Phil Bentham to award another try to Dominic Manfredi who forced his way over from close quarters despite the attentions of five would-be defenders, the missed conversion from Smith left the score at 44-0.

Thankfully for the visitors the Warriors kept trying the party tricks but whilst some of them came off, plenty of others ended with forward passes and dropped ball along with other needless mistakes otherwise the score could have been much worse.

Five minutes after the Manfredi effort former Wakefield man Taulima Tautai charged onto a pass to barrel his way over next to the posts, Smith’s goal brought up the half century.

Another try duly arrived in the 62nd minute as Williams fooled everybody on the last tackle with a sudden burst of pace from 40 meters out to race through a huge gap and score beside the posts, another conversion from Smith made it 56-0.

On the one occasion the Robins managed to break their hosts defensive line a forward pass from James Donaldson saw Green pulled back and a certain try ruled out. Rovers fans were seen doing a conga around their stand, unfortunately it couldn’t inspire their team to get the try their fans so desperately deserved.

The deadly duo struck again with less than three minutes left to play as George Williams once again produced a delightful little chip over the defence and Joe Burgess profited to grab his hat-trick try, Smith missed the conversion to leave the final score at 60-0.

The obvious concern for the Robins going forward is that in their last three games (league and cup) they have now shipped in 122 points, they will obviously be a different proposition in two weeks in the Challenge Cup match which is taking place on neutral territory at Leigh Sports Village whilst the pitch is relaid at the DW Stadium.

Post match Shaun Wane said he was under no illusions that they would be a different proposition in the cup match, on the other hand it was noted about Chris Chester’s almost casual attitude to what had just happened as he also knows his team should be very much stronger for that cup match, and indeed should carry much more threat at home against basement side Wakefield Trinity Wildcats next week.

Attendance 11,468

Rovers man of the match: Graeme Horne

Catalans Dragons 32 Hull KR 24, Errors and Discipline Cost Robins Dear Despite Brave Display

Hull KR were left ruing costly errors and poor discipline as they slipped to their second consecutive defeat in Super League and slipped out of the top 8 as a result.

With a game in hand on most of the teams above them after their involvement in the Challenge Cup last weekend there is no need for the robins to panic yet, what will cause concern is that they conceded 30 points for the second game in a row.

Jason Baitieri started the scoring for the home side after 7 minutes as the video referee deemed he had got the ball on the line without a double movement, the goal by Thomas Bosc gave the home side a 6-0 lead.

The lead for Catalans lasted just six minutes as Maurice Blair shrugged off three would-be tacklers and crashed in wide on the left, Josh Mantellato added the conversion from wide out to level the scores.

The game was fast becoming aggressive as both sides wrestled to take control, on the 19th minute Mantellato added a penalty to give the visitors a deserved 6-8 lead.

Albert Kelly pounced on a wayward pass and raced away from inside his own half but he was brilliantly chased down and tackled by Dragons full-back Morgan Escare which caused Kelly to lose the ball agonisingly short of the Catalans line.

Ben Cockayne got on the end of some fast cross field passing to stretch Rovers lead after 25 minutes, Mantellato hit the post with the touchline conversion attempt to leave the robins 6-12 ahead.

Just five minutes later Catalans marched down to the other end with the help of another penalty and Gadwin Springer crossed next to the posts to score in his second game for the Dragons, the conversion from Bosc brought the score level at 12-12.

Just 4 minutes before half time Catalans took the lead again as Todd Carney moved sideways across the Rovers defence and produced a pass to Michael Oldfield who touched down in the corner, Bosc hit the post with the resultant touchline conversion which left the Dragons with a four point lead at half time.

Half Time: Catalans Dragons 16 Hull KR 12

Rovers started the second half in profligate mood inviting pressure on their own line and, after just three minutes of the half, Eloi Pelissier pounced to score under the posts, the goal from Bosc gave the Dragons a 10 point lead.

Both sides kept trading possession as several dropped passes resulting in play see-sawing from one end to the other.

Kieran Dixon was lucky not to get 10 minutes in the sin bin after a blatant foul on Bosc as the French international knocked on.

Eventually Rovers took control of the possession they got and Kevin Larroyer, playing against what is technically his parent club, made a break down the left before handing on to the supporting Dixon who raced in under the posts to put the visitors back within striking distance, the conversion from Mantellato made it 22-18.

On 54 minutes Todd Carney created another try as he was allowed to offload in the tackle and Benjamin Garcia skipped his way over, the video referee overturned referee Richard Silverwood’s onfield decision to award the try, Bosc added the extras to stretch the home sides advantage to 10 points again.

More indiscipline followed as both sides seemed intent on winding each other up rather than trying to score points.

Elliott Whitehead finally took hold of the game by the scruff of the neck on 69 minutes and scored the home sides final try, Bosc missed the conversion to leave the Dragons leading 32-18.

With two minutes left Mantellato was awarded a try in the corner by the video ref and then kicked a majestic conversion from the touchline but it was too little too late.

In the final analysis this is a game the robins could, maybe should, have won and indeed they probably would have if it wasn’t for such poor discipline. The biggest concern though for coach Chris Chester may be that old defensive frailties seem to rearing their head again just ahead of trips to play Wigan Warriors in league and cup and a visit to table-topping Leeds Rhinos.

Final Score Catalans Dragons 32 Hull KR 24

Man of the Match: Kieran Dixon