A Liam Harris try brace wasn’t enough to prevent a spirited and gutsy City of Hull outfit falling to a narrow 36-30 defeat against Leeds Rhinos under-19s at YPI.
Trailing by eighteen points at the break, the home side were slow out of the blocks but mounted a praiseworthy comeback in the second half. Deemed by their coach Danny Wilson all the more frustrating, a poor opening quarter probably denied the hosts victory for what was in all honesty a brilliant showing in an captivating fixture after the break.
Once again and like on numerous occasions this season Liam Harris was exceptional and attacked his oppositions line with intent scoring two tries. Joel Laynez meanwhile put in a great stint in the middle and on his return from a broken hand Lochlan Fitzgerald was brilliant.
The defeat was tough to take coming just a week or so after the RFL gave the academy “outstanding” accreditation, but given the use of Hull FC’s former facilities at Bishop Burton and their previous grading before the merger it was no surprise. City of Hull this year are an intriguing prospect and a young side that has severe potential at this level.
Leeds were physically matured and had a more senior side compared to City of Hull’s rookie outfit. The away side were clinical early on and whilst their hosts were under-par they didn’t let their opportunities go to waste.
An awful start from the home side put Leeds on the front foot. Jack Walker ghosted over the first try and Tommy Brierley added an excellent second soon after. City of Hull had chances but couldn’t capitalise, and Sam Hallas completed a ruthless opening quarter for an 18-0 lead with a neat scoot over the line.
The hosts took a while to get going and it was left to talented half back Liam Harris to dig them out of a sour situation. Scoring two tries he showed a fine burst of pace for his first and outstanding agility and ability to break a tackle for his second; converting both tries in the process.
Leeds though were potent and impressively stepped it up a level once again. Some acute handling put Harry Boyes over in the corner and Tommy Bierley added a superb second just before the break for a 30-12 half time lead.
Forcing a drop out early in the second half City of Hull’s lack of luck told as the resulting kick from Leeds hit the wind with the away side regaining possession. Leeds – as the scoreboard failed to alter for almost twenty minutes – continued to defend their line as the home side dominated field position.
A spirited second half showing should give Wilson’s troops some confidence, and especially given the fact the longer the game went on the better City of Hull got.
Energetic prop Charlie Weaver smashed his way over before Joel Laynez brought his side within six points after a neat Harris kick from a tap twenty. Harris converted both tries as Leeds held onto a 30-24 lead.
They then hit the sucker punch soon after as Jack Walker raced away for his second try, putting Leeds twelve points up in the process, but the home outfit refused to give in.
Harry Hutchinson crashed over the line late on, with Harris again converting. City of Hull then got a penalty in the final minute, but Leeds in an entertaining contest held on for a six point victory.
City of Hull Starting XIII: 1. Lochlan Fitzgerald, 2. Ryan Adamson, 3. Harry Hutchinson, 4. Kieran Buchanan, 5. Zach Morgan, 6. Owen Harrison, 7. Liam Harris, 8. Kieran Moran, 9. William Jubb, 10. Joel Marquez-Laynez, 11. Joe Cator, 12. Max Riseham, 13. Charlie Weaver. Interchange: 14. Tom Jubb, 15. Callum Baker, 16. Chris Smith, 17. Bradley Spriggs.
City of Hull Tries: Harris 2, Weaver, Laynez, Hutchinson. Goals: Harris 5/5
Leeds Starting XIII: 1. Tommy Brierley, 2. Harry Boyes, 3. Alex Sutcliffe, 4. Jack Norfolk, 5. Charlie Brown, 6. Joe Sanderson, 7. Jack Walker, 8. Nyle Flynn, 9. Sam Hallas, 10. Josh Jordan-Roberts, 11. James Barraclough, 12. Nathan Barker, 13. Dyson Nicholson. Interchange: 14. Harvey Whiteley, 15. Tom Hall, 16. Ben Brady, 17. Luke Naughton.
Leeds Tries: Walker 2, Brierley 2, Hallas, Boyes. Goals: Sanderson 6/6