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

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Widnes Vikings 12 Hull FC 25, Lineham Hat-Trick Sees Off Vikings Again As Airlie Birds Move Into Top 8.

Hull FC took their destiny into their own hands with a stunning comeback to complete a league double over Widnes Vikings as they claimed an eighth victory in 10 games in all competitions and move 7th in the Super League table.

Down 12-0 inside 11 minutes Hull looked dis-organised until Marc Sneyd stamped his class on the match and took control of proceedings and prolific winger Tom Lineham ran in his second hat-trick against this opposition this year.

The Vikings started the game without former Hull player Cameron Phelps after the Australian was injured in their victory over Salford Red Devils at Magic Weekend in Newcastle which forced coach Denis Betts to bring Matt Whitley in at centre.

Coach Lee Radford recalled Jamie Shaul to the Hull FC side to rest Jordan Rankin and Setaimata Sa and derby hat-trick hero Fetuli Talanoa were out injured so Richard Whiting and Steve Michaels were brought in as replacements for the visit to the Select Security stadium

The match was billed as a Super 8s Play Off with the Vikings just one point ahead of Hull as the sides sat 8th and 9th respectively at the start of the evening.

The first penalty of the match saw the home side put the first pressure on the Hull line but Shaul cleared up the threat of a chip over the line before Hull were awarded a relieving penalty.

The opening score of the match came to Vikings winger Jack Owens after Kirk Yeaman gave away a penalty with a high tackle the ball was moved quickly right by the home side and Owens squeezed in at the corner despite the attention of Shaul, the winger then added the touchline conversion to give them a 6-0 lead in the 8th minute.

Three minutes later a break down their left by full-back Rhys Hanbury put centre Matt Whitley in under the posts and Owens added the extras to give the home side a 12 point lead after 11 minutes.

After another attack from the home side Hull suddenly burst into life and a break down the right by captain Gareth Ellis and short pass put Tom Lineham in at the corner for his 13th try of the season and his fourth against Widnes after his hat-trick against them at the KC Stadium, unfortunately Marc Sneyd slipped slightly as he took the kick at goal and missed to leave the score 12-4 to the home side after 16 minutes.

Just as Hull thought they were going to make a break with a pass from Leon Pryce to Shaul referee Phil Bentham made a shocking call saying the legal pass was forward and then awarded the home side a penalty in the Hull half for dissent but scrambling defence from the visitors kept the Vikings at bay as they looked to press home the advantage they had been handed.

As the first half wore on the home side seemed to have more appetite for the battle as Hull looked laboured and unable to break through the home defence but despite their continued dominance in the possession and territory stakes the Vikings lead was still only eight points after half an hour.

After a penalty was given to the men from East Yorkshire they got their first chance at some sustained pressure on the Vikings line and Pryce duly brought them further back into the game with their second try, however Sneyd had forgotten his kicking boots and missed again to leave the score 12-8.

The fightback continued after a high tackle by Vikings captain Kevin Brown on Richard Whiting gave Hull another attacking set on the Widnes line and a deft chip by Sneyd saw Lineham claim his second try of the game in the corner with seconds to go to half time, Sneyd then found the mark with his touchline conversion to send his team in at the break with an unlikely 12-14 lead.

The second half started with Hull showing more grunt and trying to establish control and they were soon on the attack but Mickey Paea knocked on 15 meters from the Widnes try line.

The Vikings then went down-field and a kick from former FC player Aaron Heremaia forced a second goal-line-drop-out but their resulting attack ended with a tackle by Steve Michaels taking the Widnes attacker into touch.

After 51 minutes a piece of individual brilliance from Sneyd created a try that was worth the entrance money alone as he placed a delicate little grubber kick through the defensive line and followed-up to score under the posts and stretch the visitors advantage and the inevitable conversion from the try-scorer made it 12-20.

Six minutes later Lineham made it home and away hat-tricks against the Vikings as a break from Shaul cut the home side apart again and then his deft pass put the winger in at the corner to the delight of the travelling supporters, unfortunately Sneyd was unable to add the extras so the lead stayed at 12 points for the visitors.

The next attack from Hull saw them set up for the drop-goal and Sneyd again duly obliged to give them a three score lead with 18 minutes left to play.

The home side were showing plenty of endeavour but the goal line defence from Hull was too tight and smart to stop them breaching the line.

Whenever the home side seemed to have an opportunity Hull’s resolute defence was there from all angles covering for any chink in the impressive armour as the game ambled towards its inevitable conclusion.

With seven seconds remaining on the clock Patrick Ah Van thought he had given the home fans something to cheer as he dived in at the corner but he was denied by the video referee as he had put a foot in touch.

Hull coach Lee Radford praised the impressive defence from his side afterwards saying the victory had come because they were all willing to work for each other.

Penalties: Widnes 6 Hull FC 4

Goal Line Drop Outs: Widnes 1 Hull FC 2

Attendance: 5,573

Man of the Match: Marc Sneyd

Lineham Hat Trick Topples Vikings! Hull FC 22 Widnes Vikings 8

Tom Lineham fired Hull FC to back to back victories with a spectacular hat trick of tries against Widnes Vikings at the KC Stadium last night.

At the end of a hectic period which has seen both these teams play 3 games in just 8 days this was not vintage stuff but it was a desperate performance in which the result was all that mattered as the race for the Super League top 8 hots up.

With 2 tired teams and a very poor performance from referee Richard Silverwood this game would have been instantly forgettable if it wasn’t for Lineham.

It took less than 10 minutes for Lineham to get his first try as Jamie Shaul spun out of a tackle with outstanding footwork and then produced a superb cut out pass to put the winger in at the right corner, Jordan Rankin missed the conversion but Hull led 4-0.

Soon after Hull had another chance with a 2 on 1 overlap but the pass by Shaul was knocked down by Patrick Ah Van to bring the chance to an end.

Shaul was proving a constant thorn in the side for Widnes as he kept turning up on Leon Pryce’s right shoulder and the understanding between these two and Joe Westerman was causing their left edge defence major trouble.

Another break down the right by Hull finished with Lineham trying to find Danny Houghton with an inside pass which was intercepted by former Hull man Aaron Heremaia.

Widnes first try came in controversial circumstances as a Kevin Brown kick was clearly knocked on by Ah Van but referee Silverwood allowed play to carry on and then after the next tackle Brown sneaked his way over to score, Jack Owens missed the conversion to leave the score at 4-4 after 20 minutes.

Seven minutes later Widnes scrum half Joe Mellor produced a grubber kick close to the Hull line but knocked on over the line as he followed it up.

Just two minutes after that near miss Widnes were pressuring the Hull defence again but this time Kevin Brown tried to throw a long pass to Ah Van and Lineham intercepted and raced 95 metres to the Widnes line for his 2nd try of the match, Rankin converted this time and the home side had a 10-4 lead.

Half Time Hull FC 10 Widnes Vikings 4.

It took just 7 minutes in the 2nd half for Hull to wrap up the points, Rhys Hanbury clearly hadn’t learnt from what happened in the first half and tried to throw a long pass to Ah Van, once again Lineham plucked the pass out of the air and raced 95 metres for his hat trick, again Rankin added the extras and Hull had a 16-4 lead which they never looked like surrendering.

With 13 minutes left to play Jordan Rankin produced a grubber kick close to the Widnes line, the ball was clearly aimed at the post padding and it had the desired effect as Kevin Brown was totally wrong footed and Jamie Shaul was quickest to react to follow up and score, Rankin’s kick made it 22-4.

A few minutes later Ah Van finished impressively in the corner and the video referee awarded him the try that his performance deserved but it was mere consolation, Owens missed the touchline conversion.

In the press conference afterwards Hull coach Lee Radford questioned some of referee Silverwood’s decisions saying they left him scratching his head at times particularly when a try to Jordan Rankin was ruled out and Widnes were given a penalty for a ball strip when it was clear for all to see that it was just a loose carry and drop by Widnes hooker Lloyd White.

Asked if he was tempted to rest any senior players for the Challenge Cup match away to Sheffield Eagles next week he replied “For who? The players who played tonight are the only fit ones we have left!”

Having said that he did suggest that some of the injured players look on course to return possibly for the Super League game against Huddersfield the following week including hopefully captain Gareth Ellis and scrum half Marc Sneyd.

Final Score Hull FC 22 Widnes Vikings 8

Man of the Match: Tom Lineham

Attendance 9,295