It was never a promising season for the Canterbury-Bankstown Bulldogs.
Matthew Gallagher looks at h...
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Nathan Blacklock?s second engage Super League hat-trick helped Hull regain third place in the table, but they were made to fight tooth and nail by a spirited Leigh side before winning 30-16.
In what was a dress rehearsal for the cup tie between the two next weekend, Hull had to wait until midway through the second half at the KC Stadium to be able to put the basement side to bed.
Blacklock, who once topped the Australian tryscoring charts three seasons running, took his tally in England to 14 with this blistering treble, with opposite winger Richie Barnett also grabbing his second successive brace.
Although Steve Maden?s ninth-minute try and Steve McCurrie?s late consolation were the only times Leigh came within reach of Hull?s line, Darren Abram?s men showed enough spirit and resolve to suggest they may show better when the sides meet again next Saturday.
Hull coach John Kear opted to rest prop Paul King (wrist) and Kirk Dixon (ankle) but there was a return to the side for Chris Chester, back after a shoulder injury.
Garreth Carvell made his first starting appearance of the season while Leigh handed Danny Halliwell a first start of the campaign after five months out with a leg injury. There was also a debut for 18-year-old Matt Bottom.
Maden?s try, a 60-metre sprint to the line after an interception off Chester, was sandwiched in between a brace from Hull?s comeback kid Barnett.
The winger had been in the wilderness until his recall at Wigan last week, and he followed up his two tries at the JJB Stadium with a tremendous performance tonight.
It was from Chester?s pass that he opened the scoring in the fourth minute, and he went in for an exact replica in the 20th, this time collecting Cooke?s pass to score.
Cooke added just the one goal, with Barnett?s second try putting Hull back in front, after a Neil Turley penalty had given Leigh the lead.
Another Turley penalty levelled matters again, before Blacklock spared Hull?s blushes, when his superb try, collecting a Danny Brough pass on the fly ? and Cooke?s ensuing goal ? handed the hosts a 16-10 interval lead.
Had Tom Saxton not wasted two golden opportunities, Hull could have gone in further ahead. First when winning a foot race for a loose ball with Turley, he opted to kick ahead rather than pick the ball up and he then knocked on with the line at his mercy after excellent work from Richard Horne.
Saxton was not alone however, as far too often Hull were guilty of forcing needless passes when the situation did not require them.
After a quiet start to the second period, two tries in the space of four minutes from Blacklock effectively ended the tie as a contest.
First he collected Cooke?s cross-field kick to ground in the corner and he then followed in Richard Horne?s grubber kick to complete his hat-trick. Brough added the extras to open a 16-point lead at 26-10.
Carvell, who performed well enough to indicate King has a job on his hands to regain a starting berth then swooped for his second try of the season. He thundered on to Danny Washbrook?s pass and the Leigh defence could do little to stop him touching down.
With both sides ailing in the muggy conditions, Kear opted to withdraw players at a rapid rate, obviously with the cup in mind.
Brough wasted a glorious chance to go in for a try, when he knocked on with a clear field ahead after Shaun Briscoe had created the opportunity and as the play became ragged, McCurrie plundered his way over from close range.
Turley completed an impeccable night with the boot, adding his fourth goal.
Hull: Briscoe, Blacklock, Yeaman, Saxton, Barnett, Cooke, R. Horne, Dowes, Brough, Carvell, Chester, Kearney, McMenemy.
Replacements: Thackray, Higgins, G. Horne, Washbrook.
Leigh: Cooper, Feaunati, Halliwell, Jackson, Maden, Turley, J. Duffy, Fleary, Mears, Sturm, Stapleton, McCurrie, Leafa.
Replacements: Govin, Marshall, Stevens, Bottom.
Referee: Ashley Klein (London)
Thanks to: http://www.superleague.co.uk for another excellent article.