Hull FC romped to a 43-24 victory against Leeds at Doncaster’s Keepmoat Stadium to progress through to the Challenge Cup final. The black and whites ran in seven tries with Mark Sneyd taking the Man Of The Match award due to a sensational kicking performance.

Perfect Timing

After losing momentum towards the back end of the last season, Lee Radford has approached this season with a much more distinct structure and plan to peak at the business end of the season. While they still won the Challenge Cup last year, their quest for Super league ended rather dismally after dropping from 1st to 3rd in the Super 8s and getting knocked out in the semi-final. Their victory against Leeds on Saturday is the signal of the start of their build towards the end of the season after reversing the result of just two weeks earlier. Hull put out a full team for the first time since the start of the season and it looks as though it was one their most lethal line up this season, putting 43 points past a very competent Leeds side to get a chance to defend their title. If they continue to be as dangerous as they were on Saturday, we will not only see Hull retain their title against a very over-rated Wigan side, but we might also see them do the double.

 

Halves To Die For

Mark Sneyd deservedly got the Man of the Match award for his sublime kicking performance that surely all but ruined Tom Briscoe’s career, but there was unbelievable talent all over the pitch in the playmaking department. The half-backs had a hand in 7 of the 11 tries in the game with 5 of them coming from kicks. The playmaking was simply unbelievable. Danny McGuire was playing as though it was his last game for the Rhinos and Albert Kelly was matching his opposite man and more with 2 try assists and a try of his own. Joel Moon also cracked in with a good performance too – but really it was an afternoon for the out-and-out half backs, and it was a sensational one at that.

 

RFL’s ‘Chuckle Brothers’ provide yet more officiating entertainment

Bentham and Hicks provided yet another interesting performance in the middle to back up their vintage effort from last week. It strikes me that in no other profession can one be so incompetent and not be held accountable – yet Super League referees seem to get away with it every week. This week was no different and Robert Hicks’ miraculous U-turn in the video booth was nearly as laughable as Phil Bentham missing a forward pass only metres in front of him. While the former scrubbed off a potential Hull try, the latter allowed one to be scored that shouldn’t – so you could say they evened each other out, but that shouldn’t be the case. I don’t dispute that Hicks’ call was right or wrong and can be argued both ways, but the way in which he reached the decision was unconvincing at best with the seasoned pro clearing all of the try but the grounding, only to go back and change the decision on an incident he had already cleared or hadn’t previously spotted – it was wrong in so many ways, even if the outcome was right. The only time we get to hear these decisions being explained is on BBC coverage of games and even then it is fairly incoherent, yet the RFL still wonder why the referees are despised by the fans. This negative relationship, although pretty entertaining in parts, can only be detrimental to the sport so it’s about time the referees were allowed to explain themselves as well as being held accountable for their decisions rather than being shielded by the governing body.

 

Little Worry For Leeds

Although Leeds lost out to Hull, and rightly so, the Rhinos can take some positives in defeat. Ryan Hall looks to be in the finishing form of his life once again, scoring to sublime finishes that used every inch of the in-goal area. His first was created by pure desire, with Hall chasing down a forlorn kick and out-leaping Mahe Fonua to squeeze the ball into the back of the in-goal for a try. His second was a similarly skilled finish in which he outpaced the Hull defenders to get on the end of a kick from Kallum Watkins. Leeds showed flashes throughout of what it takes to be a championship winning side, but they couldn’t string together an 80-minute performance to trump the black and whites’. However, Brian McDermott might think twice about resting his first team players after lacking the fluency in attack against Hull that might otherwise be expected from a well-acquainted team, especially as he surrendered two competition points in the process.

 

Post-Match Media

Hull FC head coach Lee Radford: “It’s special. What we’ve spoken about all season [is defending] that trophy.

“Special mention goes to conditioning and physio staff – I had a full pack of cards. To have that is a credit at this stage of the season.

“We stifled them of field position, fixed up in second period and credit to Marc Sneyd’s kicking game.”

Leeds Rhinos head coach Brian McDermott: “They were very good. It was a good contest in the first half but, as Lee Radford said, they stifled us in the second half and their kicking game was outstanding.

“A couple of kick tries gave them a numerical advantage, which wasn’t insurmountable, but with the lack of field position we didn’t have in that second half, I thought they were really good.

“We weren’t awful, but they were really good.”

 

19 Man-Squads

Hull FC: Shaul; Fonua, Griffin, Tuimavave, Talanoa; Kelly, Sneyd; Taylor, Houghton, Watts, Manu, Minichiello, Ellis

Replacements: Connor, Green, Bowden, Washbrook.

Leeds Rhinos: Golding; Briscoe, Watkins, Keinhorst, Hall; Moon, McGuire; Cuthbertson, Parcell, Singleton, Ward, Ablett, Jones-Buchanan

Replacements: Garbutt, Ferres, Mullally, Lilley.

 

Hull FC (18) 43
Tries: Kelly, Tuimavave 2, Green, Watts, Shaul, Taylor Goals: Sneyd 7 Drop-Goal: Sneyd
Leeds Rhinos (12) 24
Tries: Hall 2, Watkins, Golding Goals: Watkins 3, Lilley