Hull FC 22 Leeds Rhinos 36, Airlie Birds Top 4 Hopes Ended Despite Brave Effort

Hull FC were left ruing some basic mistakes as they pushed the table-topping Leeds Rhinos all the way but were ultimately undone by their more clinical opponents leaving them feeling what might have been as their slim top 4 hopes were dealt a decisive blow in the Super 8s.

Lee Radford brought back Jack Logan, Steve Michaels and Feka Palea’aesina after they missed the win against Super League champions St. Helens at Langtree Park last week.

Tom Lineham dropped out of the side that stunned the champions for the visit of the Rhinos to the KC Stadium while Jamie Shaul kept hold of his place along with hat-trick hero Curtis Naughton and teenagers Brad Fash and Jack Downs also deservedly kept their places.

The first chance came to the Airlie Birds in the first minute as Logan made an impressive break down the left before passing to Michaels who was just brought down short and forced into touch.

Despite the bright start by the home side it was the Rhinos who drew first blood after a devestating break by Zak Hardaker saw them go from one end to the other before the ball was finally handed to Ash Handley to dive over in the sixth minute, the conversion from captain Kevin Sinfield gave them a six point advantage completely against the run of play.

However it didn’t take the home side long to draw level as another foray into the Rhinos danger zone saw Mark Minichiello completely wrong-foot the defence to stroll through under the posts, the inevitable conversion from Marc Sneyd restored parity after 10 minutes.

Hull were clearly willing to chance their arm against the Wembley-bound Rhinos and Logan made another significant break in broken field but his final pass was ruled a touch forward by referee Joe Cobb to give the Rhinos a relieving scrum inside their own 20 meter area.

Leeds were afforded another chance against the run of play after being awarded a harsh penalty but an organised and resilient defence from the black and white’s kept them at bay.

The second quarter of the game descended into a multitude of mistakes as both sides continually coughed up possession and territory with embarrassing regularity.

Finally Hull seemed to get hold of the ball and use it with some purpose after a kick from Leeds went out on the full leading to them being handed possession just inside the Rhinos half but the chance came to nothing as Sneyd’s grubber went dead in goal.

Soon after that Naughton made a dash from inside his own 20 meter area before finally being caught 30 meters from the Leeds line, another Sneyd grubber went through and had to be kicked dead by Handley to force a goal line drop out.

Another dab through from the boot of Sneyd then unfortunately hit the outside of the post padding to deny the on-rushing Joe Westerman and give the Rhinos desperate defence a chance to run the ball back into the field of play with five minutes to go to the break.

The Rhinos gained another chance as they were given a scrum in Hull territory when referee Cobb deemed that a pass had gone forward before hitting the ground, the resulting attack then saw Jamie Peacock held up over the line by a committed and tenacious defence leaving the score at 6-6 at the break.

The Rhinos were the first side to force a chance in the early part of the 2nd half with a break in midfield but eventually Jimmy Keinhorst was held up just short of the Hull line as they started the half with more purpose.

Hull suddenly sparked into life as Jordan Rankin made a break in the middle of the park, Jamie Shaul took over and then gave a deft pass to Michaels for the Australian to cut inside and give the home side the lead in the 48th minute, Sneyd was unable to add the kick from wide out to leave the hosts leading 10-6.

The league leaders were soon on attack however after being awarded a very harsh penalty and eventually the pressure told as Carl Ablett crossed the whitewash on the left side to bring the sides level in the 52nd minute, the conversion from Sinfield edged the Rhinos back in front by two.

The Rhinos were seemingly taking the game by the scruff of the neck and were finding yards alarmingly easy to come by and another break from Hardaker saw Rob Burrow race in under the posts to stretch their advantage after 55 minutes, the conversion from Sinfield took them two scores in front and in the blink of an eye Hull looked to be facing mission impossible to save their ailing play-off hopes.

On Hull’s next attack another grubber from Sneyd found its way through and the Old Faithful thought Rankin had touched it down but referee Cobb rightly ruled he had knocked it on rather than grounding it.

That setback didn’t seem to worry Hull though as a minute later Jamie Shaul raced onto an offload 10 meters from the home sides line to race 90 meters to touchdown under the posts, the conversion from Sneyd brought Hull back within two points with 20 minutes left to play.

Hull though made a mess of the short kick-off from Leeds and Ryan Hall gleefully took full advantage to race 40 meters to take Leeds out of range again and the conversion by Sinfield again made it a two score lead for the Rhinos.

However Hull weren’t done yet and a chip over the top of the Leeds defensive line from Jordan Abdull was snapped up by Shaul moving at the speed of a race car and then a delightful pass put Rankin in at the right corner, the majestic touchline conversion from Sneyd again brought Hull back within two points with 15 minutes left to play.

Two minutes later Hull forced a big mistake as a high kick was spilled by Hardaker under pressure from three players 10 meters from his own line but the pressure was relieved with a knock-on by Hull two tackles later.

Another high kick from Hull was then dropped by Ash Golding 10 meters from the Rhinos line and Hull again pressed from the scrum but a wayward pass was snapped up by former Hull favourite Tom Briscoe who then raced 90 meters to go under the posts after 72 minutes, the conversion from Sinfield again took Leeds eight points clear and time seemed to be running out for the black and white’s.

A short kick-off from Hull gave them possession but another mistake led to another penalty for the Rhinos to march to the other end again but this time Hull were able to keep them out.

The Rhinos then wrapped up the points with three minutes left as Sinfield made a dart down the left and his pass inside put Burrow over for his 2nd of the game, the conversion from the Leeds skipper stretched the lead to a harsh 14 points which rubbed salt into already gaping wounds for Hull.

Radford bemoaned a lack of a cutting edge when they needed it, he said: “If you likened that to a boxing event we jabbed their head off but when they got their opportunities they landed a great big haymaker straight on our chin.

“That performance showed why Leeds are where they are.

“They’ve got blokes that take their opportunities. We made plenty of line-breaks but we got mopped-up.”

Echoing his counterparts words Leeds coach Brian McDermott thought a 14 point winning margin for his side was a harsh reflection on Hull, he said: “We got three breakaway tries, we call them opportunist, but I don’t feel we broke Hull down, I don’t feel we were better than them.”

Penalties: Hull FC 3 Leeds Rhinos 3

Goal Line Drop Outs: Hull FC 1 Leeds Rhinos 1

Man of the Match: Jamie Shaul

Press Box Hull v Leeds

Attendance 10,469

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Hull FC 21 Castleford Tigers 18, Airlie Birds Keep Destiny In Their Own Hands With Breathless Victory Over Tigers

A very young Hull FC took a big step towards qualifying for the much coveted Super League top 8 with a stirring comeback win against Castleford Tigers at the KC Stadium.

Teenager Brad Fash was drafted into Hull FC coach Lee Radford’s match day squad in place of captain Gareth Ellis for this Super League clash with the in-form Tigers who arrived on the back of a five match winning run.

Chris Green also returned in place of the suspended Mickey Paea and Richard Whiting came into the starting line-up having come off the bench in the victory over Wakefield Trinity Wildcats the previous week.

The first opportunity was presented to the visitors as a deep kick from Marc Sneyd went into touch on the full giving the Tigers a scrum 30 meters from the home sides line but an organised defence from the black and white’s easily repelled the resulting attack.

A soft penalty then presented the Tigers another opportunity and eventually a fast move from left to right saw Denny Solomona finish spectacularly in the corner in the 6th minute, Liam Finn was unable to add the touchline conversion to leave the score at 0-4.

Another Castleford attack started as Solomona made a break in midfield but he was dragged down just short of the line by a desperate Hull defence and the overlap on the left wing was wasted with a nothing kick that Justin Carney was unable to gather in front of the line.

The Airlie Birds then marched menacingly to the other end with a significant break from Steve Michaels and eventually Leon Pryce sent Richard Whiting over with a deft little pass in the 11th minute, Sneyd then gave Hull the advantage with a successful conversion to make it 6-4.

Suddenly Hull were taking the game to their opponents and throwing the ball around with confidence and thought they were in for another try but the final pass to Joe Westerman was deemed forward by referee Joe Cobb less than 20 meters from the Tigers line.

Castleford were gifted another opportunity when Jordan Rankin spilled a high bomb giving them a 10 meter scrum and they took full advantage as Luke Dorn pounced to score from close range to give the visitor’s the lead in the 18th minute, this Finn obliged with the extra points to give them a four point lead again.

Another opportunity was squandered by the Tigers after a penalty for a ball-steal gave them territory but as they attacked down the left a forward pass put paid to the chance.

Both teams seemed intent on knocking lumps out of each other and a series of bone crunching tackles were clearly having an effect but still no quarter was being asked or given at either end.

Castleford pressed the Hull line again and once again Solomona ¬†got in at the corner as Hull’s defence just simply ran out of men after a fast move from the middle to the right, once again Finn was unable to add the extras but the Tigers were looking good value with an eight point lead.

Hull then attacked just before half time and Tom Lineham seemed to have a perfectly legitimate try but referee Cobb controversially disallowed it after consulting with his touch judge to leave the Airlie Birds with a two score deficit going into the half time break.

Hull started much the livelier in the 2nd half and were unlucky in the 42nd minute when a pass intended for Lineham just evaded the winger and went into touch.

However the home side soon put that disappointment behind them three min utes later as Jordan Abdull crashed over despite the attentions of three Tigers defenders to get Hull back in the game, the conversion from Sneyd brought Hull back within two points.

Hull were looking more aggressive and willing to chance their arm and another attack soon after saw Danny Houghton held up over the line by desperate Tigers defence.

Lineham got the try he deserved in the 59th minute as a cross-field move as fast as a Ferrari formula 1 car allowed the flying winger to provide a spectacular finish in the corner to give Hull a two point advantage, Sneyd was unable to add the extras from the touchline to leave the score at 16-14.

A mistake in defence by the Tigers when trying to stop a Pryce offload in front of the line gave the Airlie Birds a 10 meter scrum but a knock on wasted the chance after a push at the scrum.

The table then turned as Finn put a high bomb up and Michaels knocked the ball into touch 10 meters from his own line under intense pressure from Solomona.

However the Tigers were unable to take advantage as Hull’s superb scrambling defence held them at bay until a kick over the top was caught on the full by Lineham behind the Hull line.

Hull then split the Tigers defence again in broken field as Rankin scampered through after shrugging off two defenders and, as he slipped in front of the line, had the presence of mind to look outside and see Lineham waiting to scoop up his pass and crash over in the 69th minute, Sneyd was off-target again with the conversion to leave Hull with a six point lead.

Sneyd then came back to haunt his old team with a drop goal in the 71st minute to leave the Tigers needing two scores.

Castleford suddenly found their vigour again and started pushing the home defence with a desperate looking attack but their captain Michael Shenton wasted another chance with a knock on 10 meters from the line under intense pressure.

Hull’s halves Sneyd and Pryce and captain for the day Houghton were causing the Tigers all sorts of problems especially in broken field and the kicking game of Sneyd and Houghton was ¬†constantly turning them round and sending them scuttling back.

However a controversial penalty for Castleford after Solomona had been bundled into touch by the Hull defence led to a chance attack and half back Ben Roberts reached out to score in the 76th minute, the kick was missed by Finn to leave Hull leading by three points.

Try as they might the Tigers couldn’t break down a resilient Hull defence again and after a frantic closing few minutes a soft penalty for Hull finished the game for a much deserved win for the black and white’s and send them into next weekends crunch derby match against Hull KR at the KC Lightstream Stadium with back-to-back wins.

Radford confirmed afterwards that Hull have an appeal hearing on Tuesday about Mickey Paea’s ban which effectively rules him out of the game against his former employers as things stand.

He also said that influential back row Mark Minichiello and captain Gareth Ellis look likely to play against their cross city rivals as they both look to overcome niggling injuries.

Penalties: Hull 5 Tigers 6

Man of the Match: Richard Whiting

Attendance: 10,949

Hull KR 32 Catalans Dragons 26, Rovers Move Within 80 Minutes of Wembley With Tense Victory Over Channel Hoppers

Hull KR put their supporters through agony before booking a first Challenge Cup semi-final since 2006 with a nervous victory over Catalans Dragons after a dominant first half gave way to a substantially less disciplined performance in the second half.

Coach Chris Chester brought hooker Shaun Lunt and prop Dane Tilse back on the bench but the line-up remained largely the same as the 17 who had thumped Warrington Wolves in Super League last week for this Challenge Cup Quarter-Final at the KC Lightstream Stadium.

Catalans got the game underway on a balmy summer evening which might have suited the men from the south of France but the early exchanges saw the home side settling into their stride quicker with a kick from Kelly causing panic behind the Dragons line before the ball was knocked out to force a goal line drop out.

There was early controversy as the Robins were awarded a scrum after Kris Welham had clearly knocked the ball into touch in a tackle on Krisnan Inu, they then took advantage with a fast cross-field move which released Ken Sio down the right to score the first try of the game after seven minutes, the conversion from Josh Mantellato made it 6-0.

Catalans got their first chance at some sustained pressure on the home sides line a few minutes later after a ball was batted down by a Rovers defender to give them a repeat set which then led to Welham attempting an intercept but he was unable to drag the ball in causing more pressure.

Inu then came perilously close to a try but Welham then knocked the ball out of his hands deliberately but referee Phil Bentham gave the home side head and feed wrongly at the scrum.

The red and white’s then moved swiftly down-field and after a dropped ball by the visitors ended up in the hands of Kelly and eventually Kieran Dixon got over the line to stretch the lead after 17 minutes, the conversion from Mantellato made it 12-0.

The next attack from the Robins two minutes later came via a Maurice Blair kick, Mantellato got to the ball before Dragons full-back Morgan Escare and handed the ball on to Kelly to score, another goal from Mantellato made it 18-0.

Catalans then got another scrum inside their oppositions half but facing an organised defence they never really looked like cutting through to get back in the game as the game moved into its second quarter despite forcing a goal line drop out when Dixon was caught behind the line.

A break by Mantellato down the left wing and inside pass which cut-out two Catalans defenders and two Rovers attackers found its way to Graeme Horne for the back rower to go in behind the posts in the 29th minute, the inevitable conversion by Mantellato made it 24-0 and left the men from France facing a gap as wide as the Humber to try and recover.

To their credit the Dragons wouldn’t throw the towel in and a break in mid-field by Louis Anderson saw them set up the platform to build from and a delicious little kick from Elliott Whitehead was dotted down by Inu for their first try after 35 minutes, Scott Dureau was unable to add the extras which left them trailing by 20 points.

Rovers were then awarded another penalty in the last minute of the first half after a high shot on Horne and Mantellato duly obliged from 35 meters out to send his side in at the break 26-4 ahead.

The second half started with a bit of handbags at dawn between Inu and Lunt but from that the visitors then made the first attacking opportunity before Inu was denied by Welham after a high bomb.

An attack at the other end by Rovers was similarly unfortunate as Liam Salter caught a hick kick but was held down just short of the line.

Catalans were appearing more purposeful as the game wore on and Zeb Taia took advantage of a quick tap penalty for off-side to crash over in the 50th minute, a first conversion of the evening for Dureau reduced the gap to 16 points and give them some form of hope.

The next visit to the home sides line saw an audacious kick through by Tony Gigot and Inu followed it up to score in the corner in the 55th minute, Dureau missed the conversion but at 26-14 the Dragons seemed to be sensing a comeback which at half-time had looked like an impossibility against the in-form Robins.

The 50-50 calls that had gone the way of the men from East Yorkshire in the first half now seemed to be going more in favour of the Frenchmen.

Ken Sio finally added to his try tally as Rovers took the bull by the horns and a fast passing move saw him dive in at the corner in the 65th minute, the missed conversion left the score at 30-14.

However Catalans still wouldn’t go away and they charged straight to the other end and video referees Steve Ganson and Joe Cobb awarded a try to Ian Henderson in the 67th minute, the goal by Dureau reduced the deficit to 10 points again and a nervous tension descended on the ground again.

A measure of the concern for the home side became apparent with 10 minutes left when, after a crusher tackle on Dixon 10 meters from the Catalans line, Mantellato opted to take the two points on offer to give them a two converted try lead.

Catalans immediately went for a short kick-off and won the ball within Rovers territory which led to sustained pressure. Back-to-back penalties increased the pressure but Rovers stuck manfully to the task in hand to keep them at bay and a knock-on relieved the pressure and enabled them to clear their lines.

Another Catalans attack then produced another try as a kick through by Jason Baitieri was pounced on by Elliott Whitehead in the 78th minute and the conversion by Dureau put them back within one score of the hosts.

Rovers however saw the game out to move on to their first Challenge Cup semi-final since 2006 and within sight of a first trip to Wembley in nearly three decades.

Penalties- Hull KR 6 Catalans Dragons 9

Goal Line Drop Outs- Hull KR 1 Catalans Dragons 2

Attendance: 6,073