Hull FC strengthened their claims for a Super League playoff spot and dented Hull Kingston Rovers’ own hopes in the process with victory in a thrilling Hull derby in the final game of Super League’s Magic Weekend that ended in controversial fashion.
Rovers knew victory in Newcastle would have brought them level with FC, who occupied the final spot inside the top six. But Brett Hodgson’s side were able to end a run of four consecutive league defeats to claim the bragging rights in Hull, although only after Hull KR’s Elliot Minchella was denied a late try that would have won the match.
The referee, Chris Kendall, believed Minchella had grounded the ball as Rovers trailed by just four points but the video referee ruled there was a knock-on.
Hull, who had five debutants on show thanks to an injury crisis that left them without a dozen regulars, then held on in the final moments. They now have a three-point cushion on their nearest challengers for the top six, while Rovers are a point further back after missing the chance to go level with their cross‑city rivals.
Rovers scored three tries to Hull’s two in that first half but Luke Gale kicked all three of his attempts at goal while Lachlan Coote converted only one. Hull led 14-4 when Connor Wynne and Joe Lovodua crossed but two tries from Sam Wood and the outstanding Mikey Lewis levelled it at the break, 14-14.
If that was dramatic, what followed next was barely believable. A quickfire brace from the debutant Ellis Longstaff put Hull back in control but the sin-binning of Brad Fash swung momentum back Rovers’ way. Jimmy Keinhorst crossed just prior to that before Lewis completed his hat-trick with two stunning solo tries. Coote could convert only one but Rovers had a slender two-point lead.
However, when Fash returned Hull regathered their composure and scored what proved to be the winning try when Josh Simm became the second Hull debutant to cross, with Gale converting from out wide. Minchella’s apparent try was ruled out and the Black and Whites closed out perhaps the most thrilling Magic Weekend derby in years with another penalty from the boot of Gale.
Two of Super League’s top four had contrasting afternoons earlier in the day at St James’ Park. Huddersfield moved into third at the expense of Catalans, as the Challenge Cup finalists saw off Salford Red Devils in the opening game of the day. The Dragons, meanwhile, were well beaten by Warrington, losing 36-10.