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
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
Man of the Match: Jamie Shaul
Hull FC were cut to pieces in embarrassing fashion by a red-hot Widnes Vikings as the Super League table-toppers scored 46 unanswered points after falling behind early on.
The Airlie Birds were given a harsh lesson after a controversial decision by the video referee ruled out what looked a legitimate try for Sika Manu which led to a capitulation that is not generally related to this proud side.
Coach Lee Radford restored Frank Pritchard to his match day squad and gave him his first start after he missed the narrow defeat against Wigan Warriors, Liam Watts dropped to the bench to be replaced by in-form Josh Bowden at prop.
Jordan Abdull was drafted in to replace the injured Leon Pryce and Mark Minichiello dropped to the bench having started the first four games of the season for the black and white’s.
The Vikings had an early blow when Chris Bridge had to leave the pitch with a shoulder problem after a challenge with Pritchard after two minutes.
The Airlie Birds drew first blood after six and a half minutes as Pritchard crashed through the Widnes defensive line to score his first try for his new club after a bullocking run by Scott Taylor set up the position, Marc Sneyd added the conversion for a six point lead.
Three minutes later Fetuli Talanoa was denied a try by the video referee as he dropped the ball diving for the corner.
The video referee was called into action after Abdull launched a high kick and, after Jack Logan challenged Stefan Marsh in the air the Vikings player lost the ball and Sika Manu went over, however controversially the extra official Phil Bentham ruled out the try.
The league leaders then went straight to the other end and Joe Mellor got on the end of a fast move to touchdown, Rhys Hanbury brought the scores level in the 16th minute.
Widnes then turned the match on its head after Marsh made an interception and break and, from that position an attacking kick from Kevin Brown leading try scorer Corey Thompson crossed to put the Vikings undeservedly ahead after 20 minutes, Hanbury was wide with the touchline conversion attempt.
Hull were denied another try by the video referee after 25 minutes after Manu knocked on in front of the line before crashing over.
Thompson then added his second try of the game in the 28th minute after a wide kick from Mellor saw Talanoa again out of position to allow his opposite number to gather and touchdown far too easily, Hanbury again was wide with the conversion to leave the home side with an eight point lead.
The Vikings then stretched their lead after another wide kick from Brown presented them with another opportunity for marsh to cross the whitewash after 32 minutes, Hanbury was wide with another conversion attempt.
Widnes then got a controversial try after Liam Watts appeared to pinch the ball in a one-on-one tackle but referee Richard Silverwood maintained it was still Widnes ball and subsequently Hanbury got on the end of a pass and then converted his own try to give them an 18 point lead at the break.
Brown extended the Vikings lead after 46 minutes after a mistake by Jamie Shaul from a high kick presented them with a scrum near the Hull line and the Widnes captain side stepped through the Airlie Birds defence, Hanbury took them to the 30 point mark with the conversion.
The Vikings were then given another controversial try after Marsh was awarded a second try by the video referee despite appearing to drop the ball after 52 minutes, Hanbury made it a 30 point lead with the conversion.
The Vikings hit the 40 mark as Matt Whitley crossed under the posts just short of the hour, Hanbury added the extras to make it a 36 point lead.
Marsh then got his hat-trick after a move from one side to the other and back again, Hanbury missed the conversion to leave the score at 46-6.
The Vikings were given more possession and territory with a scrum 10 meters from the visitors line despite the fact that Chris Houston appeared to knock the ball onto Danny Washbrook but a penalty allowed Hull to clear their lines.
Hull kept Widnes out for the rest of the game to at least avoid the ignominy of conceding a half century of points after their worst display for some time.
Penalties: Widnes 8 Hull 8
Goal Line Drop Outs: Widnes 1 Hull 1
Man of the Match: Hep Cahill
Hull FC got their 2016 Super League campaign off to a winning start at the KC Stadium with a breathtaking attacking display against the big spenders from the AJ Bell stadium.
As shown in the recent pre season derby Hull had an attack that was far too hot for their latest opponents to handle and scored tries aplenty as the Red Devils defence was cut to pieces with embarrassing ease.
Lee Radford started with much the same 13 that started the pre season derby against Hull KR with the only change being the return of Fetuli Talanoa in place of Curtis Naughton.
Chris Green, Josh Bowden, Danny Washbrook and headline act Frank ‘The Tank’ Pritchard made up the bench.
Marc Sneyd kicked off against his old side and immediately the Red Devils were under pressure as they knocked on from the kick off and then conceded a penalty after the scrum but their defence held firm to keep the black and white’s out.
However the first try wasn’t long in coming as Danny Houghton made a superb break in midfield from inside his own half before sending Leon Pryce scampering in for the first try under the posts with less than five minutes on the clock, the conversion from Sneyd gave them a six point lead.
Salford soon started to pressure the home side as they made yards before a deft high kick from Michael Dobson went into touch just in front of the Hull try line, however indiscipline cost them another penalty which piggy backed Hul into the danger zone but the chance was wasted when Jamie Shaul knocked on.
After the next kick from Salford referee Kendall made a ridiculous call as they were allowed to steal the ball from Carlos Tuimavave in a two man tackle and then further forward a blatant forward pass to Josh Griffin saw the Salford winger race in unopposed and then level the scores with a majestic conversion after 13 minutes.
A penalty to the Red Devils then gave Dobson opportunity to put them deep in Hull territory but this time Hull’s defence held firm and then the temperature was raised as Pritchard took to the field for his Super League debut.
A rampaging run by Pritchard set up the position for another Hull attack and, after scrambling defence from the visitors, Houghton turned provider again with a delicious kick to the right corner which Mahe Fonua gobbled up to put Hull back in front after 19 minutes, unfortunately Sneyd was unable to add the extras from the touchline.
Hull attacked again down their right hand side and a high bomb by Pryce was dropped by full-back Gareth O’Brien giving Hull head and feed in the danger zone and then a beautiful pass from Scott Taylor put Jordan Thompson over under the posts, the conversion from Sneyd made it a 10 point lead with 12 minutes of the half remaining.
Within two minutes of that try Hull were over again as a beautiful move from right to left saw Tuimavave put Talanoa in at the left hand corner, this time Sneyd added the extras from the touchline to make it 22-6 to the Airlie Birds.
Hull were afforded another attacking opportunity after forcing a goal line drop out and a fantastic break from Pritchard saw the New Zealand legend hand on to his fellow countryman Tuimavave for the centre to take two men over the line with him with 34 minutes played, Sneyd was unable to add the conversion leaving Hull with a 20 point lead.
However for all their momentum Hull handed Salford an opportunity as they knocked on from the kick off and then gave away a soft penalty and then another which saw the visitors ramp up the pressure.
Then a knock on at an attempted interception gave the visitors more territory and possession with two minutes of the half left but eventually a nothing kick from Dobson went dead and gave Hull a deserved 20 meter restart.
Hull then saw out the remainder of the half with the only meaningful action being a kick that went dead before two tackles finished the half to a rousing round of applause from the Old Faithful.
Hull started the second half in much the same way as they played most of the first making big meters and looking determined to bully the visitors out of the game and another attack soon brought reward as Leon Pryce somehow got a miracle pass to Josh Bowden for the prop forward to crash over under the posts with three minutes of the half played, the conversion from Sneyd stretched the advantage to 26 points for the home side.
Another surge into the opposition half saw a knock on from Salford and from the resulting scrum a flip out the backdoor from Sika Manu put youngster Jack Logan over just three minutes later to give them a 30 point lead, however Sneyd was adjudged to have missed the conversion.
Another frantic attack saw Salford lose the ball 20 meters from their own line and a pick up, kick and chase and dive from Shaul saw the full-back grab the latest try after 54 minutes, the conversion from Sneyd made it a 42-6 scoreline in favour of the black and white’s.
Finally Salford were able to set-up another attacking chance as Shaul mistakenly stayed behind the goal line after catching a kick and was tackled in-goal forcing Hull to drop out from their own line and they took full advantage as Junior Sa’u crossed on 58 minutes, ex Hull KR player Dobson missed the conversion much to the delight of the home supporters.
Just as the Red Devils looked like pressuring Hull’s defence again their own indiscipline cost them again as they gave away another penalty however they were just able to hold them at bay this time when referee Kendall awarded them a scrum.
A penalty soon after that saw them set up camp in the Hull danger zone again but this time Hull’s well-drilled defence kept them out rather too easily and eventually Pritchard caught a token kick from Dobson in front of his own posts.
Salford captain and former FC player Tommy Lee was then sin-binned for his part in a large fracas with less than quarter of an hour remaining on the clock.
Salford then added another frustrating score after they were given a silly penalty and Dobson’s cut-out pass put Niall Evalds over in the corner, Griffin missed the touchline conversion with 10 minutes left.
Salford’s next set saw another break and again Sa’u followed up to cross the whitewash, this time Dobson added the extras to make it 42-20.
Hull had become far too sloppy and their next attack showed it as Talanoa was forced into touch far too easily, however the Red Devils seemed to have lost some momentum and their next attack resulted in a nothing kick which was knocked on.
Hull finally saw the match out as Sneyd put a kick into touch and there was no time to form the scrum.
Radford was unable to confirm whether Gareth Ellis will be available for next weeks trip to the Stade Gilbert Brutus to face Catalans Dragons but that should become clearer on maybe Monday or Tuesday.
The removal of Mahe Fonua and Sika Manu was seemingly precautionary.
Man of the Match: Danny Houghton
Penalties Hull 8 Salford 7
Goal Line Drop Out Hull 1 Salford 1
After two pre season games, one for a mostly youth team and one for the first team, Hull FC fans are understandably excited having seen them rack up an impressive 106 points in what were, after all, first hit-outs for the two contrasting teams employed against dual reg partners Doncaster and deadly local rivals Hull KR, but what exactly is different with the black and white’s compared to previous years?
The answer would appear to be, and genuinely is, quite simple because suddenly Lee Radford’s men have gone from a largely defensive unit that could be as miserly as Ebenezer Scrooge himself, to being an effervescent, exciting attacking side who have the players to cause mayhem in any defence in Super League.
Obviously the main evidence of this was in the Clive Sullivan Memorial Trophy match against their nearest and dearest at the KC Stadium, but looking at the game at Doncaster there was also much that showed a new attacking fluency in the Airlie Birds ranks, not the least of which was the hat-trick of young winger Callum Lancaster.
Concentrating however on the derby match, what seemed to strike most people was Hull’s enthusiasm going forward. The defence was still strong until the last few minutes, but Hull now appear to have put a threateningly organised attack along with it.
Last year the Airlie Birds were 2nd in the league for clean breaks, unfortunately their major failing was an inability to back those breaks up and turn them into tries, against the Robins however that was a problem that was ruthlessly put to bed as a rampant new-look Hull put them to the sword.
As the breaks kept coming so did the support play and, most importantly, the tries with destructive power, pace, imagination and guile all very much on display in a performance which belied the fact that it was the first hit out for most of them this year.
With a pack that carries genuine grunt, strength, power and considerable ball-handling skill as displayed already, a half-back pairing with handling, kicking and running ability, a back five with pace to burn, support play and try-scoring ability and all armed with a supporting cast of hungry and massively talented youth, it’s a combination that must have Lee Radford rubbing his hands with glee
A pack including the likes of Frank Pritchard, Gareth Ellis, Sika Manu, Mark Minichiello, Liam Watts, Scott Taylor, Jordan Thompson, Jordan Abdull, Danny Houghton, Josh Bowden and Chris Green, backed up by Jansin Turgut, Richard Whiting, Jack Downs, Brad Fash, Masimbaashe Matongo and Danny Washbrook will be the main part of any success the black and white’s have this year.
But just as important as that frightening pack will be the likes of Jamie Shaul, Carlos Tuimavave, Fetuli Talanoa, Mahe Fonua, Steve Michaels, Jack Logan, Lee Smith, Leon Pryce and Marc Sneyd who will have to take advantage of the holes that will be punched in several defensive lines throughout the season and being very ably backed up by Reece Dean, Callum Lancaster and Harry Tyson-Wilson etc.
With a squad like that 2016 could just be the year the transition comes to fruition.