St. Helens 18 Hull FC 47,Outstanding Airlie Birds punish poor Saints

Hull FC sent out a Challenge Cup warning with a stunning performance against St. Helens at Langtree Park this afternoon.

The Airlie Birds moved into the quarter-finals with a ruthless eight-try performance which bludgeoned the home side into submission in a fashion as hot as the soaring temperatures on the pitch.

Marc Sneyd produced another masterful performance as man of the match with a kicking, running and passing game that was second-to-none.

Head coach Lee Radford brought skipper Gareth Ellis and star Mark Minichiello straight back into the starting line-up to replace Frank Pritchard and Sika Manu who were away on international duty.

Danny Washbrook came into the starting 13 as well having started on the bench in the win against Catalans Dragons last week as the Airlie Birds went looking for their fourth consecutive win at Langtree Park.

Saints started the better of the two sides with Theo Fages just short of an attempted 40/20 and then, after a knock on by Danny Houghton they forced more pressure as a delicate chip by Luke Walsh forced Fetuli Talanoa to run the ball dead.

From the resulting possession a fast move to the left saw Mark Percival give the home side a deserved lead in the fifth minute, Walsh added the extras with the conversion from wide out.

Video referee Ben Thaler was called into action for the first time to award a try to Danny Houghton after the home side conceded a soft penalty for offside and, subsequently, former Saints player Leon Pryce put the Hull vice-captain through a big gap, Marc Sneyd brought the scores level with the conversion in the 11th minute.

Hull then took the lead as another penalty, this time for a high shot by Kyle Amor on Houghton, gave the visitors territory and possession and Scott Taylor proved too strong to crash over beside the posts, Sneyd made it a six point advantage with the inevitable conversion in the 14th minute.

Back-to-back knock on’s from Saints then ramped up the pressure on their defensive line but then another knock on from Hull lost them the momentum they had built up.

A huge 40/20 by Sneyd gave Hull another chance at the Saints end of the pitch and a beautiful move involving Houghton and Sneyd brought a simple try for Ellis, Sneyd was again successful with the conversion in the 21st minute.

St. Helens were next to threaten after a penalty gave them much needed possession in the Hull half but resolute defence from Hull kept them at bay and a last tackle kick by Fages was scooped up by Josh Bowden.

Another penalty for the home side gave them more territory and eventually Louie McCarthy-Scarsbrook bashed his way over the line despite the attentions of Sneyd, Walsh made it 12-18 with the conversion in the 32nd minute.

Referee Richard Silverwood then called on video confirmation as Jamie Shaul crossed from dummy half after impressive power saw the Airlie Birds cover 50+ metres in next to no time, Sneyd restored their 12 point lead with the conversion three minutes before the break.

Sneyd then repeated the trick that bagged the Airlie Birds a single point victory at the same ground just over a month earlier with a drop-goal to make it a three score lead at half-time.

St. Helens had a lucky escape in the 2nd minute after a knock on saw the loose ball kicked through by Talanoa for the winger to eventually cross the whitewash but they were brought back for a knock on by Kirk Yeaman.

The home side then went straight down the other end as Luke Walsh was allowed to run  50 metres and stretch out to score as Shaul tried to effect the tackle, the aussie half-back then added the extras from near the touchline five minutes into the half.

Just as the home side seemed to have the momentum Hull went and took control back as Sneyd produced a superb cut-out pass to put Curtis Naughton over in the corner for his almost customary try at this ground, Sneyd was just wide with the touchline conversion after 53 minutes.

Sneyd then accepted the invitation to add two more points with a penalty in front of the posts after a high tackle on Mark Minichiello to make it a three score lead again after 58 minutes.

Another delightful kick by Sneyd under great pressure near the Saints line then produced another try as Talanoa beat two defenders to the ball and offloaded to Yeaman for the veteran centre to cross in the corner, Sneyd stretched the lead to 18-37 with the conversion with 15 minutes left to play.

Hull forced a goal line drop out with their next attack and the Airlie Birds took full advantage as a deft pass from Houghton manufactured a 2nd try of the game for Taylor, Sneyd made it 7 goals from 8 attempts with the conversion after 69 minutes.

Another handling mistake from Saints gave Hull another chance from a 10 metre scrum and Talanoa got the try he deserved with an athletic finish in the corner awarded by the video referee, Sneyd was just off target with the conversion with five minutes left on the clock.

Jack Owens was unfortunate in the final minute as he was denied by the video referee after he just put his foot in touch trying to grab a consolation.

Penalties: Saints 3 Hull FC: 6

Goal Line Drop Outs: Saints 1 Hull FC 2

40/20: Saints 0 Hull FC: 1

Man of the Match: Marc Sneyd

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Super League Grand Final, Wigan Warriors 20 Leeds Rhinos 22, Rhinos Wrap Up Treble Triumph Thanks To Josh Walters Winning Try

Teenage star Josh Walters scored a try he will never forget to make sure Leeds Rhinos departing stars Kevin Sinfield, Jamie Peacock and Kylie Leuluai went out on the back of a thoroughly deserved outstanding treble triumph as this champion team wrote yet another chapter in the history of this great sport.

The proceedings began with the entry of the First Utility Super League trophy before superstar rock band The Charlatans were formerly introduced to the army of supporters who were amassing in Old Trafford for this eagerly anticipated Super League Grand Final which was the first time that Wigan and Leeds had contested it since they were the headline act at the first ever one in 1998.

Classical star Laura Wright then gave an uplifting performance of Jerusalem before the battle hardened Rhinos and Warriors entered the Theatre of Dreams to a cauldron of expectant noise for the formalities before the kick off.

Shaun Wane started Dominic Manfredi and John Bateman in his three-quarter line along with 19 year old Centre Oliver Gildart, his counterpart Brian McDermott also sprang a surprise with Brad Singleton being named in the starting line-up for the Rhinos and offload machine Adam Cuthbertson dropping to the bench where he sat with teenager Walters.

Brett Delaney also somehow made it into the 17 after departing Headingley on crutches after their semi-final win over St. Helens the previous week.

The men from Headingley started with more purpose but it was the Warriors drew first blood in the fourth minute as Liam Farrell caught Rhinos captain Kevin Sinfield out of place and raced through before handing on to Sydney Roosters bound Joe Burgess for the winger to repeat his try scoring performance from 12 months ago, retiring Matty Bowen added the conversion to give them a six point lead.

Leeds responded immediately though after Matty Smith knocked on from the restart and after the resultant scrum a deft grubber by Sinfield was pounced on by Danny McGuire to score beside the posts, Sinfield’s inevitable conversion brought the Rhinos level in the seventh minute.

Wigan forced the Rhinos to drop out after Tom Briscoe was forced behind his own line and with the sustained pressure Michael McIlorum made a dive for the Leeds try line but he dropped the ball just short.

Tempers threatened to boil over as Brad Singleton was penalised for tackling Burgess in the air from a high kick close to the Warriors line.

The game settled into an arm wrestle in which the most noteworthy incident was a clash of heads between Sinfield and Cuthbertson requiring both Rhinos players to have running repairs with strapping going round their profusely bleeding heads.

A cross-field kick by Steve Prescott Man of Steel winner Zak Hardaker then caused panic in the Warriors defence which ensued in the tackle count being wiped clean by referee Ben Thaler, in a frantic period of play Leeds flung the ball right to left and then back to the right and, despite a possible knock on in the build up by McGuire, the video referees awarded an eventual try to Joel Moon to a chorus of boos from the supporters in Cherry and White, uncharacteristically Sinfield missed the conversion to leave it a four point gap after 28 minutes.

The Warriors then marched to the Leeds end of the pitch and forced some sustained pressure on the Rhinos defensive line with a knock on by Ryan Hall giving them head and feed 10 meters from the Rhinos line but an organised defence from the men in Blue and Amber held them at bay.

Leeds then suddenly cut the Warriors apart with breathtaking speed and ingenuity as Wembley hero Briscoe engineered a break to put Kallum Watkins away down the right and the England Centre handed inside to put McGuire in for his 2nd try of the match, Sinfield’s conversion gave them a 10 point lead that they held for the last four minutes of the half.

Wigan had the first surge into enemy territory of the 2nd half but a pass from Bowen was knocked on by Farrell so the chance was squandered.

A knock on by McGuire then presented the Warriors with territory and possession and then a high shot by the retiring Kylie Leuluai gave the Warriors more possession and then a dangerous grubber was knocked dead by Sinfield forcing the Rhinos to have to drop out from under their posts for the second time in the game.

Sustained pressure from the Warriors on the Rhinos line eventually saw a high bomb from Sean O’ Loughlin stolen by Manfredi from the clutches of Hall for the Wigan man to dive over and put his side back in the contest, Bowen added the extra two points to bring them back within four points seven minutes into the half.

Within two minutes of that the Warriors were back in front for the first time since the 7th minute as Bowen cut his way through feeble Rhinos defence and raced in under the posts and then added the conversion to his try to make it 18-16 to the men from the DW Stadium.

Watkins gave away a soft penalty for a high shot on Farrell which led to more pressure on the Rhinos but this time Wigan managed to lose the ball over the Leeds try line in a frantic piece of play.

McIlorum then claimed a clever penalty as he threw a pass against Watkins in an offside position at the play-the-ball and with 19 minutes remaining Bowen duly obliged to stretch their lead to four points as the pendulum continued to swing their way.

Three minutes later this great sport wrote another great fairytale chapter as young Josh Walters, coming off the bench in his first ever play-off game, scrambled over after the Warriors made a hash of clearing up a high kick and two passes later the teenager was in, Sinfield restored the Rhinos lead with the conversion.

A pitch invader then caused a short stop a few minutes later before the game resumed with the Warriors in possession.

Enthusiasm then got the better of Manfredi as he raised Hall in a dangerous tackle and dumped the England winger on his shoulder.

Desperate defence by the Warriors then led to a scrum for Leeds 10 meters from the line and then more desperation from the Warriors held them at bay somehow.

McIlorum then scragged Burrow to the ground with a head high tackle giving the Rhinos another penalty which was duly dispatched into touch.

Leeds kept forcing the issue but a very well organised defence still kept them out but then just as Tony Clubb seemed to be creating a break in midfield he tried to pass but the ball went forward and hit the deck.

For all the times that commentators Eddie and particularly Stevo kept referring to the superstar names in the Rhinos line-up as the ones who could put this game beyond the Warriors they somehow kept contriving to blow guilt edged chance after chance but, importantly held on to their two point lead.

In a breathless finish the Warriors tried everything they could after gaining possession with a scrum 10 meters from their line but a frantic kick wide was eventually defused by Hall giving way to absolute unbridled joy as they completed the Super League Leaders Shield, Ladbrokes Challenge Cup and Grand Final treble and defeated the Warriors in a major final for the first time in their distinguished history.

Penalties: Wigan 4 Leeds 5

Goal Line Drop Outs: Wigan 0 Leeds 2

Harry Sunderland Trophy Man of the Match: Danny McGuire

Hull FC 20 Huddersfield Giants 34, Airlie Birds Youth Fall Just Short In Battle With Top 4 Dwellers

A youthful Hull FC side again provided a scare for Grand Final contenders Huddersfield Giants with another enthusiastic performance that mirrored the previous weeks effort at Wigan in the Super League Super 8s at the KC Stadium.

Lee Radford sprang a surprise as teenage back rower Jack Downs started at Centre next to the returning Kirk Yeaman while Jack Logan moved onto the wing in place of Tom Lineham for the match against Paul Anderson’s side.

Leon Pryce and returned to the run-on 13 and prop Josh Bowden returned from injury on the bench but there was no place for other returnee Jordan Thompson with Jordan Abdull moving from the halves to loose-forward. Masimbaashe Matongo made way after his debut against Wigan Warriors while Jansin Turgut and Brad Fash retained their places on the bench.

The first chance of the game was handed to the black and white’s as the Giants spilled the ball on their 20 meter line, Jack Logan was forced into touch on the free play but from the resulting scrum they hit the front as NRL bound Jordan Rankin scrambled over on Hull’s left sidewith less than four minutes played, Marc Sneyd pulled his conversion attempt across the front of the posts to leave the advantage at four points.

Huddersfield’s first real attack came to a comical end a few minutes later as three kicks were attempted with the final one going out on the full, however the Airlie Birds soon squandered possession with a knock on giving the visitors possession in the Hull half.

Referee Ben Thaler soon had to go to his pocket after 10 minutes to put Craig Huby in the sin bin for a thunderous high tackle on Rankin as the full-back threatened to cut loose in broken field. From the penalty Hull moved the ball quickly left but Curtis Naughton just failed to take the final pass in and the ball went into touch just in front of the Giants try line.

Another penalty gave the Giants a chance and a swift move to their left saw winger Aaron Murphy dive over in the corner in the 15th minute, Danny Brough put the Giants undeservedly in front with a touchline conversion.

Hull gave away another soft penalty with a ball-steal which Brough promptly dispatched into touch less than 10 meters from the black and white’s try line, excellent scrambling defence held them at bay but then another penalty gave them more possession in Hull’s red zone and eventually Jake Connor acrobatically dived in at the left corner in the 24th minute to increase their advantage, Danny Brough hit the post with the conversion and the ball failed to go over to leave the Giants lead at six points.

Just as it seemed the form team in Super League were getting into their stride it was they who then gave away a soft penalty in their own half but Pryce squandered possession just five meters from the Huddersfield line.

Hull were soon granted another opportunity as the Giants then put the ball down on their own 20 meter line but again the attack came to nothing and eventually Huddersfield were given a relieving penalty.

Having marched into the Airlie Birds half Huddersfield were given yet another penalty which Brough again put into touch close to the Hull line however this time the Airlie Birds defence was more than equal to the task.

Another Huddersfield attack saw Jack Hughes break through the defensive line too easily and Scott Grix backed him up to cross the whitewash in the 32nd minute, the conversion from Brough made it a daunting 12 point lead for the Grand Final contenders.

Just when the match was threatening to get out of their reach Hull marched to the Huddersfield end of the field and Rankin cut through some uncharacteristically flat defending by the Giants to race in for his 2nd try with four minutes to the break, Sneyd added the extras to bring Hull back within six points.

With less than three minutes of the half remaining Michael Lawrence made a punishing break in the middle of the park but excellent defending held him back just short of the line.

Huddersfield were granted another chance with a scrum for a forward pass on half way, controversy then ensued as Hull were harshly penalised when Murphy seemingly dropped the ball going for the line and Logan caught the loose ball and was away with open ground in front of him, Brough converted the penalty as the hooter sounded to give a 10-18 half time score.

Hull made a fast start to the 2nd half as they found meters easy to come by on their first set and after reaching the Huddersfield red zone a grubber kick by Sneyd under the posts was missed by two Giants defenders and Josh Bowden pounced to drop on the ball, the conversion from Sneyd made it a two point ball game with less then three minutes of the half gone.

Huddersfield’s first attack of the half seemed somewhat telegraphed and the inevitable grubber by Brough close to the home line was easily snaffled by an organised defence and then a penalty granted Hull more possession and territory and a flowing move to the left saw Yeaman race in at the left corner to give the Airlie Birds the lead their start to the half deserved with eight minutes of it gone, Sneyd was unable to stretch the lead beyond two points as he pulled his touchline attempt across the face of the uprights.

Another penalty then granted the black and white’s more territory and possession but eventually Logan was forced into touch on the last tackle.

As the half wore on the enthusiasm that was so prevalent last week was again flowing through the youth of Hull as they hassled, harried and generally bullied the Giants all over the pitch and, as a result, the visitors became more and more frustrated.

Another penalty gave Hull another crack in the Huddersfield half but a knock on gave the visitors a scrum but then the Giants were put into defensive mode again with a knock on at the base of the scrum unfortunately Hull then handed possession back two plays later with yet another knock on.

Huddersfield forced the first goal line drop out as the hour approached and the Giants made it pay with another controversial decision as Jake Connor crossed in the left corner after a blatant forward pass from Aaron Murphy, Brough missed the touchline conversion to a round of boos and jeers from the home fans caused by the try.

Hull again surrendered possession in midfield but then in the ensuing set another mistake by Huddersfield led to a break and another attack but Sneyd was just stopped short as he tried to kick through the defensive line and the loose ball was snapped up by the Giants as the game continued at breakneck speed.

Huddersfield then thought they had earned some breathing space as Grix dived in at the left corner but referee Thaler ruled it out as he dropped the ball over the line with 12 minutes remaining.

As the temperature raised Hull’s youth were again going toe-to-toe with a Grand Final contender and again they weren’t looking out of place with the step up from the academy as the game ebbed and flowed from one end to the other despite persistent interruption from Mr Thaler’s whistle.

As the game entered it’s final stages Huddersfield had seemingly fallen into the same trap as Wigan the week before thinking the clash against Hull’s youngsters would be easier than it actually was and, like the Warriors the week before, they were playing for time until Super League’s top try scorer Jermaine Mcgillvary squeezed in at the right corner with two minutes left and the majestic touchline conversion from Brough wrapped up a thoroughly undeserved win.

Former FC half back Jamie Ellis then rubbed salt into very harsh wounds with the last act of the game after Brough’s grubber kick found its way through the Hull line, Brough’s conversion gave a totally undeserved gloss on a final score in a game that Hull’s youth had done themselves proud again.

After the game Giants coach Paul Anderson questioned his sides attitude and praised Hull’s young side saying, “Hull have got some bright times ahead with some of them young lads.

“I haven’t had to say anything in the changing room, Broughy’s the captain and he’s told them that effort wasn’t good enough.”

His counterpart Lee Radford was again delighted with the effort from his young players for a 2nd game on the trot and is expecting some star quality from them in the years to come.

Speaking of their step up in physicality he said: “I can’t knock their effort and they’ll continue to develop physically.”

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Hull KR 0 Leeds Rhinos 50, Dejected Rovers Simply Outclassed By Rampant Rhinos At Wembley

Hull KR’s dream return to the Wembley cup final after a 29-year absence turned into an embarrassing nightmare as they were simply ripped apart as cup holders Leeds Rhinos retained their trophy.

Records tumbled as winger Tom Briscoe became the first player to ever score five tries in a Challenge Cup final and the Rhinos made it a record biggest winning margin eclipsing their 36 point victory in 1999 against London Broncos.

The Wembley showpiece was started with a heart-rending performance of the traditional Challenge Cup anthem Abide With Me by Lizzie Jones the wife of Keighley Cougars and Wales player Danny Jones who tragically passed away a few months ago playing for the Cougars in London.

Chris Chester named Albert Kelly in his starting side after the half-back recovered sufficiently in time from a knee injury that had kept him out since the semi-final victory against Warrington Wolves ironically at Leeds Headingley ground four weeks previously.

Rhinos coach Brian McDermott brought back Joel Moon and Kallum Watkins in the centers and Danny McGuire returned after missing the Super 8s victory at Hull FC a week ago and Jamie Peacock was restored to the starting line-up having started from the bench in that 36-22 win at the KC Stadium.

Leeds set their stall out early moving menacingly up-field but an organised defence from the robins held them at bay although in both of the Rhinos first two sets the ball was turned over to the men from the KC Lighstream Stadium within 10 meters of their line.

The first points duly came the way of the cup holders after Kevin Larroyer was adjudged to have reefed the ball out of the grasp of Jamie Peacock in front of the Rovers posts and Brett Delaney snapped up the loose ball to to touchdown under the posts, the conversion from Kevin Sinfield inevitably followed to give them a six point advantage in the 6th minute.

The early exchanges were clearly going the way of the holders but a note of caution for them was that Hull KR were not panicking as maybe a lesser team would have and sticking resolutely to their game plan and getting settled in to the contest.

The first bit of luck to go the way of the men in red and blue came when McGuire put a high bomb up and full-back Kieran Dixon came to take the ball and knocked it onto an on-rushing Leeds player but was then able to re-gather the ball without referee Ben Thaler seeing the knock-on.

The first test of the Rhinos defence came when a pass from Peacock was fumbled and knocked-on in the Leeds half giving Rovers possession and territory but the chance was wasted as Tyrone McCarthy dropped the ball in-front of the Rhinos defensive line.

Leeds then moved to the other end of the field all too easily and finally McGuire got on the end of a fast move down their right hand side to score the second try in the right corner, the touchline conversion was successfully added by Sinfield to make it a 12 point advantage.

Disaster struck again as Rovers went for a short kick-off and Leeds winger Ryan Hall gobbled up the ball to make the break and then a fast move from left to right saw Watkins put former Hull FC winger Briscoe in for their third try inside the opening 20 minutes, Sinfield hit the post with the conversion to leave the score 16-0.

Despite the dominant opening from the Rhinos their opposition kept plugging away valiantly no matter how hopeless the situation seemed for them.

Another chance came their way when a ball was batted back by Maurice Blair and Kris Welham kicked the ball forward but it went dead-in-goal, shortly after that a Leeds mistake gave Rovers more possession and territory but a kick to the right side was easily gobbled up by Hall behind the Rhinos line.

Leeds next visit to the Rovers line caused more pressure but a try was not forthcoming this time when a grubber kick by McGuire was snaffled up by former Rhinos player Shaun Lunt.

After Ken Sio dropped a ball Hall was held up over the line and then Kylie Leuluai was also held up and then a fast move to the right saw a chance squandered as Watkins dropped the ball.

Just when the robins needed a shift in momentum Kelly produced what everybody thought was a 40/20 but then referee Thaler reversed the decision to give them head and feed when replays showed his foot was about half an inch over the Rovers 40 meter line to the relief of the cup holders.

Rovers threatened again as John Boudebza made a smart break in the middle of the field giving Kelly a chance to run at the retreating Rhinos defence but after that was stopped the ball went to their left and was lost within 10 meters of the line again.

As the clock ticked down towards the break the game appeared to have slowed down and this was clearly to the benefit of Rovers as particularly James Donaldson and Welham were making impressions on the Rhinos defence.

Another chance came as Welham got to a hail-mary kick before Briscoe and Dixon suddenly had space to work in front of the Rhinos posts but his attempted kick through was stopped by full-back Zak Hardaker to see the Rhinos keep their 16 point advantage as the final reached half-time.

The second half started as the rain started to tip-down as Rovers hoped to make a record-breaking comeback for a Challenge Cup Final against the holders and Super League leaders.

The half started badly for them however as a mistake from Dixon gave Leeds a scrum 20 meters out after a kick by McGuire but they held them out and then a Sinfield grubber gave a glimmer of a chance as the full-back tried to get away down the right but then dropped the ball in the tackle 30 meters out to give the Rhinos another scrum.

Another attack though by Leeds was repelled as a pass by off-load machine Adam Cuthbertson ended up in Rovers hand just in-front of their posts.

The trophy was seemingly wrapped-up for the Rhinos after a spirited attack by Rovers as a kick by Maurice Blair was left by Dixon and Briscoe pounced and never looked back on a 90 meter race to the line despite the brave effort from Sio to try and stop him, the touchline conversion from Sinfield made it 22-0 in the 48th minute.

The more Rovers were panicking the more desperate the situation was becoming as the dream of playing at Wembley was turning quickly into a nightmare particularly for Dixon who was making mistakes with alarming regularity as the affect of playing lower league opposition in recent weeks was seemingly making a big difference against the battle hardened Rhinos.

The next name on the try scoring list was Brad Singleton as the big prop barged his way over despite the attentions of Dixon and video referees James Child and Richard Silverwood were happy to award the try as he managed to get the ball down before it squirmed free, the conversion from Sinfield made it 28-0 to the Rhinos in the 58th minute.

A rare attack by Rovers with an impressive build-up from a break by Graeme Horne promised to bear some fruit but eventually Larroyer was held up over the line.

Another attack shortly after saw a high kick from Kelly invite Josh Mantellato to chase but the bomb was easily defused by Hall again, Leeds then moved far too easily to the other end of the field and Briscoe was on hand to gobble up another pass from Watkins to slide over in the corner for his hat-trick, the touchline conversion attempt by Sinfield was somewhat hooked to leave the score at 32-0 with 15 minutes left to play.

Kelly finally got his 40/20 to give the robins a scrum 10 meters from the Rhinos line but another chance was wasted with a forward pass to Tony Puletua handing the possession back to Leeds.

Another opportunity came to Leeds as Watkins made a majestic break and then handed the ball inside to Rob Burrow for the diminutive number 7 to race in under the posts, the inevitable conversion by Sinfield stretched it it to a 38-0 lead for the treble-chasers with seven minutes left to play.

Within two minutes of that Briscoe was in for his fourth try after another break and pass by Watkins put him away down the right again, a sixth goal from eight attempts by Sinfield made it 44-0.

Dixon’s nightmare then carried on as he scooped up a kick and ran the ball back only to drop it in the first contact, McGuire snapped the ball up and put the ball out to Briscoe for the England winger to set a new record with a first ever five-try-haul eclipsing the four tries scored by Leroy Rivett in the Rhinos 1999 triumph against London Broncos, the conversion from Sinfield brought up the 50 point mark.

Chris Chester speaking afterwards said his team had not performed as well as they have shown for the rest of the season, jubilant Rhinos coach Brian McDermott said there had been a desire to give legends Peacock, Sinfield and Leuluai the perfect Wembley send-off but that they will also still be determined to carry off the league leaders shield and the Grand Final trophy as well.

Penalties- Rovers 2 Leeds 3

40/20- Rovers 1 Leeds 0

Lance Todd Trophy Winner- Tom Briscoe

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Hull FC 12 Wigan Warriors 48, Airlie Birds Taught Harsh Lesson In Last Game Before Super 8s

Hull FC ended their regular season campaign in extremely disappointing fashion before the start of the Super 8s.

After the euphoria of the derby win over Hull KR the previous week which confirmed their place in the First Utility Super League’s coveted top 8 the Airlie Birds went into their game with 3rd place Wigan Warriors in good heart and, allied with wins against Wakefield Trinity Wildcats and Castleford Tigers, in good form.

Coach Lee Radford installed teenage sensation Jordan Abdull and club stalwart Richard Whiting in the starting line-up in place of seriously injured Leon Pryce and captain Gareth Ellis.

The first chance of the game went the way of the visitor’s as Joe Burgess made a burst for the line but Hull’s scrambling defence held them at bay until a forward pass gave the Airlie Birds a relieving scrum.

Burgess then made a break from deep and wrong footed Jordan Rankin and the leading try scorer in Super League went over behind the posts in the 6th minute to give the Warriors the lead, the goal from England international Matty Smith made it a six point lead.

Hull were given an opportunity soon after when a forward pass by Wigan was spotted by referee Ben Thaler just inside their own half but the resulting attack was quelled by organised defence from the Warriors.

Wigan were then gifted another similar opportunity as Marc Sneyd knocked on in his own half but a rather unstructured attack from them was easily repelled by Hull until a kick went into touch in front of the try line to give Hull the scrum.

Another scrambled Wigan attack then led to a kick out to the right wing by Smith which was batted back inside by Josh Charnley for John Bateman to touchdown with the try being confirmed by video referee Richard Silverwood, the conversion from Smith made it a 12 point advantage in the 16th minute.

Back-to-back penalties then gave Hull a sustained period of pressure on the Wigan line and Abdull eventually put Whiting through a huge gap with a delicious pass after 20 minutes to register Hull’s first points, the conversion from Sneyd brought the hosts back to within six points.

The visitor’s were then awarded a controversial try  in the 24th minute as Sam Powell followed up a kick and scampered over to touchdown behind the posts, Smith’s conversion made it 6-18 in the 25th minute, the try was awarded by the video referee despite Powell appearing to be offside when the ball was kicked through but they deemed that he was back onside when centre Anthony Gelling made a second kick, to a chorus of booing from the home supporter’s.

A frantic attack from the black and white’s seemed to unsettle the Warriors and a grubber kick had to be kicked dead causing a goal line drop out which was soon backed up by a penalty giving Hull more territory and possession and a fast move from right to left saw Jack Logan cross the whitewash only to be pulled back for a forward pass.

A terrible mistake in the middle of the park as a pass went to ground gifted Wigan half-back George Williams a clean break and he needed no 2nd invitation to race clear and score under the posts with three minutes of the half remaining, the conversion from Smith took them an ominous 18 points clear going into half time.

Hull needed a fast start to the second half and they almost made a dream start as a fast move released Tom Lineham but the winger was held down just short then as the ball was moved in-field an attempted interception provided a knock-on to give Hull a scrum 20 meters out, and a grubber kick over the Wigan line was touched down by a defender to force a second goal line drop out.

The resulting attack was wasted however as Hull then were adjudged to have knocked on to give the Lancashire outfit a pressure relieving scrum, Wigan then marched to the other end and a penalty to the visitor’s allowed for more concerted pressure on the Hull line and eventually Matty Bowen crossed in the 47th minute, the conversion by Smith wrapped up the points for the Warriors with a 6-30 lead.

Despite their obvious dominance the Warriors seemed to be also in something of a profligate mood and gave Hull another chance as a pass went into touch giving Hull head and feed at a scrum in their half but another chance was wasted as Logan was denied again by a forward pass from Sneyd.

Another attack was also controversially stopped for the home side for a knock on which appeared to come from Bowen knocking the ball onto Danny Houghton’s arm before Lineham went under the posts.

Wigan captain Sean O’ Loughlin then compounded Hull’s misery further with their sixth try of the evening in the 58th minute, the conversion by Smith made it 6-36.

As much as they were being beaten in every department there was still plenty of effort from the home side but a lack of precision and completion were just hurting them every bit as much as the Warriors attack, a point which was shown glaringly as Steve Michaels was denied a try after putting a foot in touch before diving over in the corner.

Hull eventually got their try courtesy of the video referee as Joe Westerman bashed his way over the line in the 67th minute, the conversion from Sneyd made it 12-30.

Refree Thaler then enraged the home fans after controversially stopping Jordan Rankin from a certain break-away try after a deft chip in midfield and pulling him back for offside for which the Warriors were handed an equally controversial penalty.

After a goal line drop out from that penalty another Wigan attack ensued and Bowen scrambled over for his second try with nine minutes left on the clock and the conversion from Smith made it 12-42.

Wigan made it eight tries too easily as a deft pass then put Dominic Crosby over with two minutes left, the conversion from Smith stretched the lead to the final score of 12-48.

Hull v Wigan

Catalan Dragons 20 Hull FC 14, Airlie Birds Left to Rue Mistakes As Vital Points Dropped

Hull FC slipped down to 8th in Super League with a heartbreaking defeat in Perpignan as Catalan Dragons continued their impressive home form which has seen them only lose once on their home ground.

Coach Lee Radford brought back Jordan Rankin at full-back in place of Jamie Shaul and derby hat-trick hero Fetuli Talanoa returned in place of Warrington-bound winger Tom Lineham and Setaimata Sa also returned from injury to face his former team at the Stade Gilbert Brutus after missing the win at Widnes Vikings.

The first chance came the way of the black and white’s with a scrum 10 meters from the Catalan line after Morgan Escare knocked on a high kick which then led to the young full-back being caught behind the line after a full set on the home sides line.

The goal line drop out led to another attack but the Airlie Birds were unable to make it count as a grubber kick from Marc Sneyd was eventually cleared up.

However the respite for the Dragons was only temporary as finally Joe Westerman made a break in the middle of the pitch and Rankin came up in support to go over under the posts in the 11th minute, the conversion from Sneyd gave the visitors a 6 point lead.

It took until the 16th minute for Catalan to draw level when captain Remi Casty made a break in midfield and then put the supporting Thomas Bosc over under the posts, the conversion from Scott Dureau brought the home side level.

Another mistake by Catalan led to another Hull scrum 10 meters from the Dragons line but a structured set from the visitors was ineffective as the home side comfortably held them out.

As the game settled down the home side became slightly more frustrated than Hull and a petulant ball steal by Dureau in the 28th minute gave them a penalty which Sneyd added to take the score to 6-8 in the 29th minute.

In the 35th minute a telegraphed pass from Sneyd to Mark Minichiello gifted an intercept and simple dash to the line to score for Dragons centre Tony Gigot to put the home side in the lead for the first time, the conversion from Dureau stretched it to a 4 point advantage.

Back-to-back penalties then led to another attack and try for the home side by Greg Mounis under the posts in the 39th minute, the inevitable conversion from Dureau gave the Dragons a 10 point lead going into the half time break.

Hull only had themselves to blame for trailing at half time after they had plenty of territory but made mistakes which had led to scores for the home side after a solid opening 30 minutes.

A penalty given away by the Dragons early in the second half gave Hull some pressure on the Catalan line again but again the attack was well quelled by an organised defence until a grubber kick by Sneyd went over the dead ball line.

The Dragons then got a penalty for a stolen ball and attacked with purpose but a stray pass cost them another try and gave the visitors a relieving scrum.

Another purposeful attack from the Dragons saw Dureau put a grubber kick over the Hull try line with Elliott Whitehead hunting the try but Steve Michaels managed to knock the ball dead for a goal line drop out then a mistake by Catalan in the ensuing attack gave Hull some relief.

However another mistake by the visitors led to another attack until another mistake from the home side gave Hull possession back.

The play then moved back to the Catalan end as Hull appeared to start to get into their stride and then Gigot knocked on 30 meters from his own line to give Hull another attacking scrum and Mark Minichiello brought his side back into the contest in the 52nd minute as he bashed his way over despite the attentions of three Dragons defenders, the simple conversion for Sneyd brought the score to 18-14.

Another fluid attack from the Dragons led to a break by Escare who chipped over the head of Talanoa but Sa was on hand to take the kick behind the try line for a goal line drop out again which led to another attack until a forward pass gave Hull another relieving scrum.

Hull then moved quickly down-field and the two former Dragons players combined as Leon Pryce chipped over the defensive line but Sa lost the ball over the line under pressure.

A silly penalty given away by Hull then led to more pressure on their line but another poor pass led to a knock on by Man of Steel contender Zeb Taia to give them another scrum to clear their lines.

Another fast move down-field by Hull then saw Pryce kick towards the Dragons line so Escare knocked the ball into touch to give Hull another scrum close to the home sides try line which then led to another knock on by Gigot to give Hull another scrum with little over 10 minutes remaining.

A fast cross-field move by Hull then led to a try by Fetuli Talanoa but the video referee denied him controversially for obstruction which appeared to be caused by the Catalan player Ben Pomeroy.

Shortly after that a break through the middle of the field by Minichiello then saw another mistake by the black and white’s deep in Catalan territory to let the home side off again.

A penalty for a ball steal on Ian Henderson then gave the home side a penalty which Dureau duly converted to give them a six point advantage.

A short kick off then led to another attack from Hull after the ball was batted back into their possession but a pass over the top for Talanoa ended up going into touch with five minutes left to play.

Finally Catalan saw the match out as Hull were left to rue too many mistakes at crucial times and some controversial calls by referee Ben Thaler and the video referee.

Hull will wonder what might have been if they hadn’t coughed up so much possession and given the home side so many penalties and territory but there are clearly issues that need to be addressed before a trip to Headingley next week for the fist of a league and cup double-header against Challenge Cup holders Leeds Rhinos.

Questions will also inevitably be asked about referee Ben Thaler’s performance although it would be unfair to blame the defeat entirely on him after he made some bad calls against both sides.

Penalties: Catalan Dragons 10 Hull FC 7

Goal Line Drop Outs: Catalan Dragons 1 Hull FC 2

Man of the Match: Mark Minichiello

Hull FC 4 Huddersfield Giants 24, Coach Radford Left Seething At Team As Three Match Winning Run Halted

It’s a theme that has been all too prevalent in a stuttering season so far from Hull FC and once again the old failings reared their ugly head at the KC Stadium last night as Hull were left in 11th place in Super League.

In the build up throughout the week to this game coach Lee Radford had put great emphasis on the importance of this game for the Airlie Birds season, but ultimately he, and the fans, were badly let down by a limp performance from the players.

The big news for Hull was the return to the starting line-up of half back Marc Sneyd after a month out with an ankle injury that he picked up in the defeat at Castleford.

Former Hull player Danny Brough started the scoring in the 10th minute when he was invited to run into a gap from less than 10 meters out and he scampered in to touchdown, the 2013 Man of Steel added the extras and the Giants held a 0-6 lead.

Hull kept testing the visitors defence and should have had a penalty try when Jamie Shaul was poleaxed by a head high tackle from Craig Huby as the full-back was crossing the Giants line but, instead of giving the penalty try referee Ben Thaler decided to just give the home side a penalty and sent Huby to the sin bin for 10 minutes.

Shortly afterwards Tom Lineham appeared to get over in the corner to score but the try was controversially ruled out by the touch judge who said he was pushed into touch.

After this the 12 men of Huddersfield marched down to the other end and Ukuma Ta’ai waltzed in to give them a 10 point lead although Danny Brough missed what should have been a simple conversion.

Just before half time another former Hull player Jamie Ellis also came back to haunt them as Steve Michaels made a hash of a kick behind his own line and Ellis pounced on the loose ball to score, another goal from Brough gave the Giants a convincing 0-16 lead at half time as referee Thaler was booed off the pitch.

Half Time Hull FC 0 Huddersfield Giants 16

The home side started with more energy in the 2nd half and a greater sense of urgency but too many silly mistakes and stupid penalties given away ultimately squeezed them out of the game and the Giants comfortably took control after a frantic opening 10 minutes to the half.

After 58 minutes Michael Lawrence finished the game as he strolled through a paper thin defence and, although Brough missed another simple conversion, the Giants led 0-20 and thoughts were clearly turning to Huddersfield inflicting the same ignominy of being nilled at home on the team who did just that to them in February.

After 65 minutes Hull finally showed some invention as Fetuli Talanoa made a break down the right, he was supported by Lineham and, as they traded passes, the Giants defence finally stopped them. With the opposition defence at sixes and sevens for the first time Hull swept the ball left and finally Kirk Yeaman flicked the ball out and Michaels ensured Hull would not be held to nil as he slid in at the corner, Sneyd missed the touchline conversion to leave the score at 4-20.

To add insult to injury Jermaine McGillvary added another try on the final hooter, Brough missed the touchline conversion leaving the final score 4-24.

In the press conference afterwards Hull coach Lee Radford said, “We are not a good enough side that we can afford six or seven blokes to toss in a performance like that and expect to come away with a result.

“Six times we got down their end in the first half and in the second half the few opportunities we had we didn’t take, but for six or seven blokes to throw in that effort and those errors doesn’t win you any rugby league game.”

Hull’s almost non existent attack is clearly a massive problem as the Airlie Birds are now the lowest scorers in Super League and that was just magnified by a very well drilled defensive performance from Huddersfield.

Radford went on to say, “I expected a performance out of the players because of the magnitude of the game and the need for a result, but individual poor performances cost us,”

A performance like this means next Friday’s home game against Salford Red Devils takes on extra significance for all concerned with Hull FC, a misfiring attack clearly needs to be worked on drastically and, against an injury ravaged Salford side, nothing but a big win will be acceptable for fans, coaches and team alike.

Final Score Hull FC 4 Huddersfield Giants 24

Attendance 9,930

Man of the Match: Mickey Paea