What a headline. What a club. What a team. This current Hull FC side is building a dynasty, and you’d be a brave man to bet against them at Wembley as an attacking masterclass saw off Leeds 43-24 at the Keepmoat Stadium.
The Black and Whites were brilliant. They shook off a shaky start to dominant Leeds and produce a display that few would have expected. Yes we tipped a Hull win, but not like that. Unlike the previous tight and tense semis in both 2013 and 2016, FC just blew their opposition away. Either side of half time they were absolutely magnificent, racking up the points as they smashed the Whinos to make their capital return.
For all the recent frustrations there was hope more than anything that Hull were pacing themselves for this end of the season, and on this evidence that theory looks like bearing fruit. After three recent Super League defeats fans were feeling a little ominous, and in truth a nervy win over Huddersfield last week did little for confidence, but this was Radford’s side at their rampant best.
Both clinical and powerful with faultless execution, when the Black and Whites clicked into gear they were unstoppable. Mentally they had the upper hand on Leeds. It’s Hull’s Cup and they ain’t giving it up without a good fight. You saw that with each hit in defence and with each carry. The forward pack were immense, and with two half backs, not to mention a crafty fullback who just gets better and better by each passing week, Hull were just too hot to handle.
Special praise has to go to Albert Kelly who was the best player on the pitch by a mile. He’s missed the last two games through injury but returned with a bang. His try got the ball rolling and it was a terrific one at that. Kelly also provided a money ball for Marc Sneyd to send Carlos Tuimavave over, assisted Chris Green himself and provided the lead pass that saw Liam Watts charge through in the second half. Kelly’s display was monumental to FC’s victory and this was the Aussie at his brilliant best. What a player. It’s hard to believe sometimes Hull got him on a free.
Elsewhere Sika Manu put a right shift in as normal – carrying strongly all game. Watts was sensational throughout, as was Scott Taylor, whereas Josh Bowden’s stint was nothing short of superb. What a tank he’s turned into. Mark Minichiello had his moments and Gareth Ellis put in a captains knock. The pack dominated Leeds and this was instrumental to victory. Off the back of that Kelly and Sneyd worked their magic, with the latter arguably playing his best game of the season so far.
Leeds though had their brief moments in an eye-catching Cup tie. They took the game to Hull early on and scored twice through kicks as Ryan Hall got an early brace, sandwiched inbetween Kelly’s effort. After that Hull went up a notch, and once they reached that level that saw them overcome their Wembley hoodoo last year, they were too strong to stop. Tuimavave coasted over for Hull’s second try before Chris Green became the benefactor of more Kelly brilliance. Sneyd perfect with the boot converted all three, with Hull taking a 18-12 lead into the break.
You sensed a strong start to the second half would see off Leeds, and Hull didn’t disappoint. Tuimavave got his second after Fetuli Talanoa did splendidly well to palm back a Sneyd kick. Hull were in complete control at this point, with Sneyd keeping the scoreboard ticking with a drop-goal.
Kallum Watkins gave Leeds hope of a comeback, scoring a fine try, but Hull responded further as Watts showed his potent running, taking a Kelly pass to charge to the line. Shaul then scored a blockbuster effort, as Tag completed the rout with a close range try.
Hull Starting XIII: 1. Jamie Shaul. 2. Mahe Fonua, 4. Josh Griffin. 3. Carlos Tuimavave, 5. Fetuli Talanoa, 6. Albert Kelly, 7. Marc Sneyd, 8. Scott Taylor, 9. Danny Houghton, 10. Liam Watts, 21. Sika Manu, 12. Mark Minichiello, 13. Gareth Ellis. Interchange: 14. Jake Connor, 15. Chris Green, 22. Josh Bowden, 17. Danny Washbrook.
Hull Tries: Kelly, Tuimavave 2, Green, Watts, Shaul, Taylor. Goals: Sneyd 7/7. Drop Goal: Sneyd
Hull 3-2-1 Man of the Match: 3pts Albert Kelly, 2pts Liam Watts, 1pt Sika Manu.
Leeds Starting XIII: 1. Ashton Golding, 2. Tom Briscoe, 3. Kallum Watkins, 18. Jimmy Keinhorst, 5. Ryan Hall. 6. Danny McGuire, 4. Joel Moon, 10. Adam Cuthbertson, 9. Matt Parcell, 16. Brad Singleton, 13. Stevie Ward, 12. Carl Albert, 11. Jamie Jones-Buchanan. Interchange: 17. Mitch Garbutt, 19. Brett Ferres. 20. Anthony Mullally, 25. Jordan Lilley.
Leeds Tries: Hall 2, Watkins, Golding. Goals: Watkins 3/3, Lilley 1/1.
Scoring System: 0-6, 6-6, 6-12, 12-12, 18-12, 24-12, 25-12, 25-18, 31-18, 37-18, 43-18, 43-24.
Referee: Phil Bentham