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Hull FC 28 Hull KR 16, Airlie Birds hit Super League summit

Hull FC climbed to the top of the First Utility Super League table with an efficient victory over their cross-city rivals in the Magic Weekend finale.

Despite dogged resistance from the Robins a burst of three tries in 12 minutes saw Lee Radford’s side sweep to a deserved victory, the win sees Hull now sitting two points clear at the top of the table after defeats for both Warrington Wolves and Catalans Dragons in Newcastle.

Lee Radford brought marquee player Frank Pritchard into his 17 after he sat out a controversial suspension in the victory at Wigan, Carlos Tuimavave also returned to the bench after missing six weeks due to injury and Curtis Naughton was restored to the right wing after missing last week with an elbow injury.

The big plus for James Webster’s side was the return of Terry Campese from a hamstring injury, in the minus column for them was seeing Ben Cockayne missing, he was replaced at full-back by 18-year-old Matthew Marsh, Chris Clarkson was also returned to the starting 13.

Marsh was tested by a high kick by Marc Sneyd early but was equal to the task with a good catch as black and white shirts were closing in on him.

Campese was seeing plenty of the ball early directing operations for his side, his first attacking kick was easily caught by Naughton, his second was uncharacteristically lax from him and went over the dead ball line on the full.

The first moment of genuine quality duly arrived in the sixth minute with a delicious pinpoint bomb from the boot of Sneyd and, with Campese and Thomas Minns clashing together, Mahe Fonua rose phoenix-like to pluck the ball out of the air to dash over to score, Sneyd made it a six point advantage with his trusted left foot.

A soft penalty gave the Robins much needed possession and territory which was backed up when they forced a goal line drop out after Liam Watts had to kick a loose ball dead.

However another frustrating error in the form of a forward pass from Campese meant the chance was wasted once again by the men in red and white.

The next attack by the black and whites saw former Rovers player Scott Taylor attempt an ambitious offload to Danny Houghton, who was making his 250th appearance for Hull, unfortunately the hooker knocked on just in front of the posts.

Boiling point was reached soon after when Maurice Blair dragged Sneyd back by the collar and elbowed him in the head, this inflamed Taylor who waded in, the resulting melee saw Campese try and punch, then gouge Jamie Shaul and, somehow without being seen, shove Taylor as well without punishment.

A minute later Rovers hooker Shaun Lunt was sin-binned for a spear tackle on Watts and, from the penalty, Hull took full advantage as fast hands from left to right put Naughton over in the corner in the 21st minute, Sneyd was off target with the touchline conversion attempt.

Back-to-back penalties for Rovers presented them with another chance but, eventually, another mistake gave the Airlie Birds a 20 metre tap.

A slip by Minns as Taylor closed in to make the tackle saw Rovers given a penalty that blatantly should not have been given, the prop forward was also very harshly put on report.

The penalty saw the Robins make ground but, yet again, a handling mistake wasted the chance, although there was plenty of endeavour from both sides, neither seemed capable of taking a real stranglehold of proceedings with handling errors and forward passes being quite prevalent at both ends.

Something that was frustrating fans was inconsistency from referee Richard Silverwood, for instance a tackle by Adam Walker on Kirk Yeaman that was, exactly, the same as Taylor’s tackle on Minns, went unpunished with the Rovers prop not even spoken to by the man in the middle.

The next attack from the red and whites saw Lunt, who had returned a few minutes before, finally getting the try they had worked so hard for, as he turned round and reached out to plonk the ball down on the try line in the 33rd minute, Campese made it a four point ball game with a successful conversion.

Rovers had more of a spring in their step after that try and were a bit more willing to push offloads and try different things, the nearest opportunity came from a kick by Albert Kelly which Ken Sio contested but unfortunately knocked on in front of the Hull line.

A shoulder charge by Danny Washbrook on Campese just before the break saw the Rovers captain given a chance, which he duly accepted, to bring his team back within two points as the hooter sounded.

Rovers had immediate pressure on the black and white’s try line as Sneyd dropped the kick off presenting them with a scrum 10 metre’s out.

As tempers flared again, this time between Pritchard and Walker, the Robins were given another penalty which Campese converted to bring his team level just two and a half minutes into the second half.

A controversial decision by Silverwood gave Rovers another chance with another scrum close to the Hull line, a penalty for a ball steal then cranked up the pressure on the black and whites, eventually a short pass from Kelly put former FC player Graeme Horne over in the 47th minute, Campese’s boot made it 10-16.

Hull were then afforded some rare possession and territory from the kick off when James Green was forced into touch by enthusiastic defending from Naughton and Fonua.

Shaul tried a grubber kick through the defence and appeared to possibly touchdown under the posts before Campese saved his team by giving away a goal line drop out.

Hull forced another goal line drop out as Sneyd put a delicate grubber through the line, Iain Thornley grabbed it but was immediately scragged by Shaul in goal.

From the drop out a fast move down the right saw Tuimavave and Ellis produce two deft short passes for Fonua to crash over in the corner for his second try, Sneyd brought the scores level with a majestic touchline conversion in the 57th minute.

Hull then showed in the 61st minute why they are where they are, a fantastic cut-out pass from Tuimavave put Yeaman away down the left hand side, the veteran centre made a break before releasing Mark Minichiello, who in turn put Shaul away for a stunning try, Sneyd made it a six point gap with his boot again.

A penalty for Rovers gave them a great chance with Campese finding touch just 10 metres out, but the chance was blown as the skipper then produced a forward pass to Blair giving Hull a scrum and chance to clear their lines.

The increasingly frustrated Campese then had another senior moment as Shaul got on the end of a chip kick by Kelly to stop his progress, Campese followed-up needlessly to give away a stupid penalty.

The penalty resulted in Hull gaining land in the Rovers half of the field. From that position Tuimavave put Minichiello through a gap for the barnstorming back-rower to swat off three defenders on his way to the line in the 69th minute, Sneyd made it a 12 point game with his 61st successful goal of the season.

The last ten minutes saw the match slow down almost to walking pace as the Old Faithful reveled in their status as Super League leaders, almost fittingly a frustrated Campese dispatched one last penalty but was unable to find touch as Fetuli Talanoa caught it and eventually ran the ball into touch in front of the massed black and white army in the Leazes Stand to bring the match to a close.

Penalties: Hull FC 7 Rovers 10

Goal Line Drop Outs: Hull FC 1 Rovers 3

Man of the Match: Mahe Fonua

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