Injury ravaged Hull FC put up a brave show in the first half but ultimately fell to a thumping defeat against In Form Leeds at the KC Stadium last night.
With Jordan Thompson, Setaimata Sa and Richard Whiting already missing from last Saturday’s defeat at Salford the Airlie Birds were dealt a further injury blow when Liam Watts had to pull out during the warm up due to a hamstring injury.
With back rower Jansin Turgut drafted in at the last minute to replace Watts to make his first team debut and half back Jordan Abdull brought in on the day of the game the preparations were, at best, disrupted somewhat for Lee Radford and his team.
With the allegations made in Australia regarding Steve Michaels also weighing heavy it has genuinely been a week to forget for everybody at Hull FC.
Having said that the home side made a bright start with new half back pairing Leon Pryce and Marc Sneyd causing the Rhinos defence all manner of problems.
Aggressive up front, organized at the back and with the time and space afforded to Pryce and Sneyd Hull started with clear intent and Leeds clearly had major problems even just trying to get out of their own half.
After repeat sets Hull scored the first try when a clever chip to the in-goal area from Sneyd was collected by Pryce who duly beat a flurry of Leeds bodies to touchdown for the try, Sneyd converted to make it 6-0.
Shortly after that try Sneyd provided another deft chip which looked to bring Michaels his first try but he was just held up over the line by frantic Leeds defence.
One warning sign for Hull was that they were needing to bring interchanges on earlier than normal including Turgut coming on for his debut when he replaced Mickey Paea after 17 minutes.
When Leeds did get into the Hull half of the field the visitor’s attack looked to be at sixes and sevens and very disorganized against a well marshaled defence which was shown abjectly when, after several passes across field, Danny McGuire was forced into touch.
Hull attacked again and another Sneyd kick caused panic in the Leeds defence and ended with Tom Lineham scooting in at the corner only to be denied by the video referee due to at least one of his team mates being offside.
This didn’t stop Hull as they were given a scrum shortly after which allowed them to build pressure in the Leeds half again. The pressure told as Leon Pryce beat at least three defender’s and stretched out to score his 2nd try of the night and the 200th try of his remarkable career, Sneyd converted to make it 12-0.
Half Time. Hull FC 12 Leeds Rhinos 0.
The tone for the second half was set within 45 seconds of the restart as Brad Singleton made a break too easily and, with a hint of a forward pass, he sent Danny McGuire scampering over to score, Leeds captain Kevin Sinfield duly obliged with the kick to make it 12-6.
A few minutes later Singleton himself was put over, again with a dubious pass, again Sinfield converted to make it all square at 12-12.
Hull tried to wrestle control back and a barnstorming run by Mark Minichiello nearly brought a try but he was held up just short, with the next play Tom Lineham poked a kick through but Sinfield picked it up but was caught in goal to force a goal line drop out.
Minutes later Leeds went down the other end with a blistering break by Kallum Watkins and he put McGuire through for his 2nd try with a blatant forward pass, Sinfield converted to make it 18-12 to the Rhinos after 53 minutes.
Shortly after the writing was on the wall for Hull as Singleton put Watkins through a big gap to score, Sinfield converted again to make it 24-12.
A few minutes after that Kylie Leuluai barged his way over from close range, Sinfield again added the conversion to take the score to 30-12.
Hull were all over the place and the short turnaround and disrupted build up were clearly having an effect and, as a result of this, Leeds smelt blood and went straight for the jugular.
A break from Zak Hardaker led to a try under the posts for Rob Burrow, Sinfield added the obligatory conversion to make it 36-12.
Sinfield added a drop goal after 74 minutes and then another flowing passing move from Leeds again opened up the Hull defence but Burrow dropped the ball with the line begging.
He made up for it a few minutes later as he poked a little kick through the defence and followed up to score, Sinfield made it 7 from 7 with the conversion to complete the scoring.
In the post match press conference Leeds coach Brian McDermott said: “Hull were almost unplayable in the first half, at half time we needed to change things.
“They were quicker to the ball and doing lots of very good things, we knew we had to stop them doing those things,”
Asked if he had any problem with a player who has been accused of drug offences being in the opposite team he replied: “Unless you can prove he’s guilty I don’t have a problem seeing his name on the team sheet,”
Hull coach Lee Radford said it was a smart move by Leeds to save their interchanges until the 2nd half.
He also spoke about the short turnaround having an effect and the disrupted preparations for his team.
Asked about what he thought to Jansin Turgut’s debut he said: “It was a difficult game for him to come in, it wasn’t ideal having to give a kid a debut when somebody pulls out 20 minutes into the warm up.
“Gaz Ellis wouldn’t normally have played but he put his hand up and said he would,”
He also said that nobody has been in touch with him regarding Steve Michaels.
Speaking about the player’s out injured he said he needs to speak to the physio and see when he can get some of them back.