Hull went into last night’s game as favourites to progress to the next round of the Cup. They came up against a Catalan Dragons side decimated by injuries and with home advantage Hull fans will have been confident their side could begin their cup defence with a win. What they may not have expected though is just how emphatically they won. They played some Harlem Globetrotter rugby at times and ripped the Catalan defence apart at will to record a 62-0 victory.
Hull took the lead after just two minutes as Steve Michaels scored the first of his hat-trick of tries. They got a penalty from the first set and after some good hands Michaels dived over in the corner. They soon scored again and this was a fantastic try. They kept the ball alive for at least ten offloads before Jamie Shaul surged through a gap before finding Josh Griffin on his inside who crashed over from close range.
The Black and White’s had started well but they had to endure a scrappy period after the first two tries. Catalans were awarded a few penalties by Ben Thaler but Hull’s defence was resolute and held their opponents out. It wasn’t long before Hull wrestled back control of the game and their third try was another that was easy on the eye. The Sneyd/Kelly/Shaul pivots combo is really starting to click and that was evident for this try. Sneyd took on the line before finding Kelly who passed it out the back to Shaul on the overlap and he sent Mahe Fonua over in the corner. A slick move that deserved a try. Marc Sneyd was having an off night with the boot so Hull still only led 12-0 after the opening three tries.
Hull were back in the groove and Liam Watts was the next to score. Steve Michaels collected a loose offload and straightened up well to power his way to within a few metres of the line. His play the ball was quick and Danny Houghton was able to fire a pass to Watts who wasn’t going to be stopped from less than 5 metres out. Sneyd finally found his kicking boots to make it an 18 point ball game.
Minutes later Michaels had his second try as Sneyd again took on the defensive line before passing to Jansin Turgut who found Michaels on the touchline with a great ball and the Australian did the rest as he dived over on the corner. Lee Radford will have had an easy half time team talk as Hull effectively sealed the win before half time. They added another try just before the break when Albert Kelly put Watts through a gap, Minichiello supported him on his inside before finding Scott Taylor who slid under the posts to give Hull a 28 point half time lead.
Hull started the second half as they ended the first as they continued to steamroller the Dragons. Steve Michaels certainly appeared to be having a party last night as he crossed for his hat trick. Sneyd missed another conversion in what was an uncharacteristically bad night with the boot for the normally lethal half back so Hull led 32-0.
Youngster Jansin Turgut was the next to get in on the act as he made it two tries in two games. Hull kicked a penalty to touch, Danny Houghton tapped it quickly and fired a pass on the blind side to Turgut who strolled through a gap to score. Jake Connor took over the kicking duties and he slotted the conversion over to make it 38-0.
It seemed like everyone fancied a try last night as the Dragons had given up the ghost. It was Jordan Thompson’s turn next but not without help from Albert Kelly. Kelly looked to be going over for a try himself but he was held up short but he still managed to dump and offload down to Thompson who just had to put the ball down to score. Connor converted again to give Hull a 44 point lead.
The half century was soon brought up for Hull and it was again made and scored by Kelly and Shaul. They were both excellent on the night especially Shaul who has improved immensely in recent weeks. Kelly dabbed a kick through the middle and Shaul timed his run to perfection to dive on the ball under the sticks. The same two players combined once again to make it 56-0. Kelly burst through a gap and cut inside. He couldn’t get round the Full Back so he passed to Shaul who dived over for Hull’s 11th try of the night.
To the delight of the fans Hull made it 60 right at the death as Jake Connor showed great desire to squeeze the ball down in the corner before he was shoved into touch. He nailed the conversion from the touchline to make the final score. Hull FC 62-0 Catalan Dragons.
12 tries and a clean sheet you can’t ask for much more than that from any side in any game. Catalans were decimated by injuries but you have to play what is put in front of you and Hull showed their ruthless edge to put the Dragons to the sword. The defence of the Challenge Cup is off to a perfect start and they now have to wait until Sunday to discover who their quarter final opponents will be.