Brrrrr that was cold. At a freezing Keepmoat Stadium, Hull FC kick started their 2016 pre-season campaign with a one sided 46-12 thrashing of League One side Doncaster.
Fielding a squad mainly of young intriguing talent, the Black and Whites proved too much to cope with, running in nine tries, with teenage sensation Callum Lancaster landing a well taken hat-trick.
Showing itself the evolution of the current academy, recent tight knotted affairs between the clubs were long forgotten, with the rise and eminence of Hull FC’s younger stars there in abundance.
Though with senior players amongst them crowd favourite Feka Paleaasina was superb, running with vigour in both stints to this discomfort of the Doncaster defence, but the afternoon belonged to Curtis Naughton.
After expressing his desire earlier in the week for the right wing spot Naughton was terrific, before a late shot by Doncaster ended his growing influence.
Telling contributions were all over the field, with Lee Smith impressive on trial, and Reece Dean screening maturity in the half back position.
It didn’t take Hull long to stamp their authority, as Leon Pryce showed neat footwork – and more surprisingly strength – to force his way over for the games first try.
From then on the away side didn’t look back, taking control of their maiden outing of 2016. Proving once again to be devastating in the clear, Callum’s electrifying pace, mixed with that of Curtis Naughton, raced Hull into a commanding lead.
Racing clear on the right flank, Naughton finished in the corner, before Lancaster himself added the first of a glossy trio of tries on his maiden outing since July last year.
Returning from respective hamstring and wrist injuries, the teenage winger in the clear was formidable, with his support play the most noteworthy – and especially given Hull FC’s previous fatalities in this department.
Most pleasingly, it was such a trait that created the opportunity for young forwards Brad Clavering and Jansin Turgut, with a desire to keep the ball alive putting the U19 middle man under the sticks.
Turgut, deployed in the right centre spot from the bench, then benefitted from Naughton’s excellence, supporting and therefore finishing an acute break from the game-star himself.
Desirable to the Hull FC locker, a lack of support play has diminished their promise in recent times, and even if against lower league opposition, today it was the most praiseworthy aspect of their play.
Evidently on top of their opposition, the scoreboard kept ticking, with another of the Black and Whites highly intriguing crop of youngsters, Ross Osborne, barging his way over.
At 30-0 Hull were good value for their lead, with Naughton three from six from the tee. Such a lead gave the opportunity of further experiment, with Brad Fash unexpectedly spelled with Jez Litten in the hooking role.
The second half proved to be less prolific than the first, but it still gave out its moments.
Lancaster pushed the line at every opportunity, finishing spectacularly for his second try, and by doing so giving his chances of first team selection no harm going into the new campaign.
Fewer rugby league sights better the 19-year-old in the clear, and with Naughton again the provider, Lancaster – via neat awareness from Brad Fash – raced away for his third.
There was no stopping him, as Lee Smith took over the kicking duties due to Naughton’s injury. Took out late in his involvement in the try, it proved the only sour moment in an otherwise satisfactory victory.
Another U19 star, Connor Bower, was introduced late on, as Hull FC’s youthful reputation, promise and prominence took centre stage.
The visitors became a bit wayward in the later stages, conceding two tries, but rounded off with veteran utility man Richard Whiting neatly finishing for his sides ninth and final score.
Hull FC celebrate their win over Doncaster
Doncaster Starting XIII: Carr, Foggin-Johnston, Doherty, L.Welham, M.Welham, Howden, Hedges, Scott, Cross, Brehan, Walton, Foster, Hough .Interchange: Jones-Bishop, Cook, Gilbey, Sheriff, Hirst, Frankland, Brown, Harper.
Doncaster Tries: Howden, Scott. Goals: Hedges 2/2
Hull Starting XIII: Lee Smith, 20. Curtis Naughton, 19. Steve Michaels, 34. Richard Whiting, 31. Callum Lancaster, 6. Leon Pryce, 32. Reece Dean, 20. Josh Bowden, 26. Jez Litten, 15. Chris Green, 24. Kirk Yeaman, 17. Dean Hadley, 28. Brad Fash. Interchange: 13. Jordan Abdull, 14. Feka Paleaaesina, 25. Jansin Turgut, 27. Jack Downs, 33. Masimbaashe Matongo, 35. Ross Osborne, Brad Clavering, Connor Bower.
Hull Tries: Pryce, Naughton, Lancaster 3, Clavering, Turgut, Osborne, Whiting. Goals: Naughton 3/7, Smith 2/2
Referee: A. Sweet