It was tale of two-halves for Hull Kingston Rovers’ 2019 season as they transitioned from Tim Sheens to Tony Smith. It took them to the final round to determine their survival in Super League. Ben Guzdek has your verdict…
2019 Club Record
Competition Points: 20
2019 Player Achievements
Most Tries: Craig Hall (11)
Most Points: Ryan Shaw (63)
When Hull Kingston Rovers signed the likes of Josh Drinkwater and Kane Linnett, the club were anticipated to compete for the Grand Final play-off spots after what was seen as a successful transfer window.
However as Rovers’ season tends to go they would be struck with injuries and this lead to many changes to the starting 13 and players switching into positions that were out of their comfort zone.
Halfway through the season, Hull KR fell into a relegation battle as they failed to see through games when they had the lead. This lead to the departure of Tim Sheens.
But the replacement felt like a shock to rugby league fans as the replacement came to be Tony Smith. Who was anticipated to be the coach that ensure Hull KR’s Super League survival, and that he delivered.
Smith immediately made changes to the squad and had brought in young talent on loan to help add strength in depth, bringing in the likes of Matt Parcell and Daniel Murray to name a few.
With the squad looking more refreshed, they looked like a team that could compete with anyone. Tony’s first win as the new head coach came against one of his former clubs Warrington and lead them to a memorable victory that sent a strong message to the Super League. Rovers weren’t going down without a fight.
Hull KR continued to beat teams that looked better than them on paper, from Hull FC to Castleford Tigers. But it was defeats to the other relegation contenders that prevented Rovers sailing away from the drop-zone.
With three games left Hull KR travelled to Perpignan to play Catalan and came home with two-points after a solid performance, what followed was facing the relegation favourites London who beat Rovers in their own backyard to take it to the final round to see who will be relegated.
Hull KR had a tough task ahead of them as they travelled to the Grand Final runners-up Salford, Rovers had the lead for the majority of the game but Salford managed to equalise in the dying minutes and stole the two points after a drop-goal in Golden Point.
However, Rovers were saved after London failed to beat Wakefield at Belle Vue. Ending a very tense relegation battle that became one of the highlights of another breathtaking year in Super League.
NothingButLeague Player of the Season: Ben Crooks
I would start by saying that Ben Crooks was my first choice out of a bunch of players that have been consistent all season.
These were Danny McGuire, Mose Masoe, Weller Hauraki, George Lawler and Kane Linnett. But what made Crooks stood out over the rest was his passion for the club.
Watching him from the stands at KCOM Craven Park as a fan gave me a warm feeling, knowing that Crooks loved playing for the club and had given everything on the pitch.
He may not be everyone’s first choice but he certainly deserves praise for his work-rate both offensively and defensively throughout the season.
2020 GAINS AND LOSSES
Jordan Abdull (London Broncos), Ethan Ryan (Bradford Bulls), Matty Gee (London Broncos), Shaun Kenny-Dowall (Newcastle Knights), Harvey Livett (Warrington Wolves – Loan), Will Maher (Castleford Tigers), Greg Minikin (Castleford Tigers), Matt Parcell (Leeds Rhinos), Nick Rawsthorne (Toronto Wolfpack), Kyle Trout (Dewsbury Rams)
Danny McGuire (Retired), Joel Tomkins (Catalan Dragons), Tommy Lee (Released), Chris Atkin (Salford Red Devils), James Greenwood (Salford Red Devils), Craig Hall (Featherstone Rovers – Loan), Josh Drinkwater (Released), Ryan Shaw (Yorkshire Carnegie), Nick Scruton (Retired), Shaun Lunt (Leeds Rhinos)