Ten years and counting. The long wait for a Hull FC victory at Headingley continues as Leeds closed out a 38-26 Super 8s victory.
For the Rhinos that pretty much confirms second place, but for Hull at least there’s some work to be done. Their destiny remains in their own hands still, as we approach the final rounds of the season, but they know they need to pick themselves up quickly ahead of another battle with Wigan next week.
That will be massive, and yet this defeat could be a costly blow. Hull lost both Fetuli Talanoa and Carlos Tuimavave to injury, whilst Gareth Ellis could be up against the disciplinary panel mid week, despite being on the receiving end of a crusher at Wembley just last week. But any potential inconsistency won’t be a surprise, and the same can be said of the shambolic refereeing performance that got both coaches, Lee Radford and Brian McDermott, raging post-match.
James Child was at his incompetent worst. He just didn’t have a clue and cost both sides at different stages of the game. That needs pointing out for the cynics alone, as this is far from a ‘we lost so let’s blame the ref’ scenario. Child was atrocious and couldn’t keep his whistle out of his mouth. It spoiled the game. Never mind Sky Sports, TV viewers must have thought they were watching Comedy Central, at least that was the feeling in the west terrace. Of course the players were no angels, but they weren’t helped by an official that would have a hard time organising a piss up in a brewery.
It must be said Hull didn’t help themselves either. They panicked at times and lacked composure early in their sets. This made ways for errors, crucial errors, as Hull, until the final minute at least, were still within striking distance. Game smarts were lacking, but backing up Wembley and the whole emotion of it after rolling out five days prior was some effort. Fair play. Radford’s side had a crack and their top four destiny remains in their hands at least.
And with Marc Sneyd pulling the strings they’ve got as good as chance as any. Sneyd backed up his Lance Todd trophy winning display with another top notch effort. He was excellent, with his kicking bob on again, but it was his running game that stood out. He can run despite what the pundits say. He stepped out of challenges, and broke the line, and with better support play or a better bounce of the ball, it could have swung the points in FC’s favour. It wasn’t to be though.
Leeds, for a side labelled as average all season, were very good. Their forwards bullied Hull at times. Mitch Garbutt was excellent and Matt Parcell ran the show. That was evident early on. When Leeds speeded the game up they were dangerous – unfortunately though, and this goes for both sides, momentum was hard to come by with Child stopping the game every two minutes.
The Rhinos opened the scoring through Rob Burrow, as he fortuitously became the benefactor of a dubious video ref decision. Hull then levelled as Mahe Fonua ran a superb line to send over Steve Michaels, but Leeds took the lead again through Brad Singleton, before Scott Taylor levelled again as the penalties started to flood in.
Cruically Ellis was then sent to the sin bin, despite no penalty being given in live play, and Leeds took advantage as Liam Sutcliffe went over for a try. Sneyd added a penalty goal to soak up some time whilst down to twelve men, but Hull were helpless to stop Garbutt going over for a 24-14 half time lead.
Danny Washbrook hit back for the away side shortly after the break, but Leeds restored their lead as Adam Cuthbertson finished off a well worked move. A Kallum Watkins penalty goal then followed, before Sneyd found Josh Bowden with a dubious pass for another try.
The game was then in the balance, but Hull couldn’t level. They had the opportunities and the territory, but couldn’t capitalise on it, with Parcell closing out the game with a try in the final minute.