Marc Sneyd’s drop goal four minutes from time secured a huge win for Hull FC against Leeds Rhinos.
Sneyd uncharacteristically missed three of his four conversion attempts, but got the one pointer with the scores level at 18-18 to maintain Hull’s perfect home record this season.
Hull dominated the first 20 minutes, and took the lead through Jake Connor. He ran a great line as he took a short ball from Kelly and charged to the line, shrugging off Joel Moon and holding off the attempts of Ashton Golding to keep him out.
Leeds got back into the game once behind, but couldn’t take advantage of four repeat sets as fantastic Hull defence held them out.
Their defensive efforts were never more impressive than the last ditch tackle on Ash Handley by Mickey Paea, who had to go off for a head test as a result of his efforts.
That defence allowed momentum to swing back in favour of Hull, and they got a second try as Bureta Faraimo charged to the line after receiving a short ball from Kelly.
Hull had a great first five minutes to the second half too, twice dragging Tom Briscoe into touch for repeat sets before Kelly’s long pass was taken by Jake Connor for his second try.
From there the momentum shifted, as a number of penalties put the Rhinos on the front foot and the result was three tries in 11 minutes to turn the game on its head.
The first of them was all about the power of Ryan Hall, who took in the pass from Ash Handley and charged for the line, repelling the efforts of Jake Connor and Bureta Faraimo to dive one handed and get the ball down on the line.
The next came from Joel Moon, who rounded the defender to score after Brett Ferres’s offload allowed Richie Myler to find him. Ben Thaler looked upstairs for obstruction but nothing was found and video referee Phil Bentham awarded the try.
The third came just two minutes later. There was chaos in Hull’s defence as Watkins made a break before Myler’s kick was fumbled by Jamie Shaul. Matt Parcell picked up the pieces and looked to touch down, and Bentham awarded a penalty try after seeing Josh Bowden illegally kick the Leeds hooker as he fumbled.
Watkins converted all three to give the Rhinos a four point lead, but just when it looked like Hull might have nothing left they recovered to take back control.
They levelled things up with nine minutes to go, as Fetuli Talanoa beat Briscoe to Kelly’s chip and managed to offload to Carlos Tuimavave to score.
Again Sneyd pushed the conversion wide, but he made up for those three misses by having the final laugh with a drop goal four minutes from time, and Hull held on for a tight but potentially crucial win.
WHAT WE’VE LEARNED
RADFORD REPLICATES OLD TRICK
Hull had lost their last ten Super League meetings with the Rhinos, but coach Lee Radford pulled out a tactic that worked so effectively in their Challenge Cup win last year.
Tom Briscoe was repeatedly challenged under the high ball in Doncaster last year, and Kelly and Sneyd looked to do the same again here to great effect.
Scott Taylor almost scored early on following a kick that forced Briscoe to knock on. Hull hit him twice early in the second half and dragged him into touch both times as a result, before the levelling try saw Talanoa leap highest to claim Kelly’s ball and set up Tuimavave.
MORE LATE HEARTBREAK FOR LEEDS
For the second week running, a late drop goal sealed defeat for Leeds, with Sneyd following the efforts of Sam Tomkins last week for Wigan.
The Rhinos have now drawn or lost by one point in four of their last six matches, and it’s a pattern that Brian McDermott will need to change quickly to get points on the board.
His side slip to sixth in the table, yet if those tight games had all gone their way they would be top of Super League right now.
Leeds are rarely outplayed, but will need to pick up more points from these tight games to be sure of a place in the top four in what is shaping up to be a very competitive race at the top of the league.
Man Of The Match – Albert Kelly (Hull FC)
There is only one man who could possibly take the award and that is the Australian stand-off.
Sneyd had a quiet night but his partner came alive, always looking dangerous on the ball whether through carries or when looking for the killer pass.
All four Hull tries were created by Kelly, the first three direct assists and the fourth from his high kick. On his night he is one of the top players in Super League, and he certainly was here.
WHAT THEY ARE SAYING
Hull FC Head Coach Lee Radford
“We defended really well tonight. They’re a fantastic side and an entertaining side to watch.
“They’re unpredictable. I don’t think they know what they’re doing sometimes and when they don’t know what they’re doing it makes it unbelievably difficult for the opposition.
“There was nothing in the game in the game at their place and there was nothing in it tonight. I’m sure we’ll meet them again later on in the season at some point.”
Leeds Rhinos Head Coach Brian McDermott
“I thought we were great tonight. There were some unfortunate moments in the first half where we just couldn’t contain Hull.
“To come back how we did in the second half, I couldn’t be any more proud.
“Tonight I don’t have too much complaint. Hull were good, and credit to Hull. Some of their goal line defence was outstanding.”
Hull FC 19
Tries: Connor (2), Faraimo, Tuimavave
Drop Goals: Sneyd
Leeds Rhinos 18
Tries: Hall, Moon, Parcell
Goals: Watkins (3)
Drop Goals: n/a
Hull FC: Shaul; Faraimo, Connor, Griffin, Talanoa; Kelly, Sneyd; Taylor, Houghton, Bowden; Minichiello, Manu, Hadley.
Interchanges: Tuimavave, Paea, Lane, Matongo.
Leeds: Golding; Briscoe, Watkins, Handley, Hall; Moon, Myler; Delaney, Parcell, Cuthbertson; Ablett, Jones-Buchanan, Ward.
Interchanges: Mullally, Ferres, Smith, Oledzki.
Referee: Ben Thaler