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Lucky seven for Hull
Lucky seven for Hull
A win over Huddersfield by 19-6 handed Hull their seventh straight engage Super League success, moving them into third place in the process.
In a low-scoring affair just four tries were scored in total. But this win, in spite of Leeds? win at Bradford on Friday, confirms that Hull may well have emerged as the main contenders to runaway leaders St Helens.
Such a position was unthinkable just two months ago when Hull, then under John Kear, languished outside the play-off zone and had just been dumped out of the cup.
Although this win, their second over the Giants this season, was a shadow of their recent form it will have shown coach Peter Sharp that he has a side capable of performing against every type of opposition.
Huddersfield, to their credit, were dogged throughout and led manfully by Brad Drew, caused Hull more problems than any of the sides to have faced them over the last seven games.
With Gareth Raynor absent with a hand injury, Hull employed Kirk Dixon on the wing, whilst 18-year-old Tommy Lee made his first appearance of the campaign from the bench. Huddersfield welcomed Keith Mason back into their line-up after being cup-tied last weekend.
The prop will also be missing for next week?s quarter-final with Salford but was certainly present in the opening stages today, crossing for the opening try after 15 minutes.
A studious opening from both sides was punctuated only by Paul Cooke?s fifth-minute penalty, before Mason broke free of Hull?s defence to score under the posts. Michael De Vere?s goal left the score at 6-2.
Hull were struggling to find any fluency in attack, a far cry from their last outing, a 44-28 win over Leeds at Headingley, although Dixon came close to responding only to find himself dragged in touch by Martin Aspinwall.
Sid Domic did level matters though, collecting Richard Horne?s reverse pass to cross in the corner, before Cooke?s touchline goal edged Hull back in front.
Domic nearly provided Nathan Blacklock with a further score as the interval approached, only to see Paul Reilly intercept with a brave piece of defending.
With both sides struggling to find a breakthrough, the half-time hooter sounded with Hull just two points ahead.
Unfortunately for the crowd of just over 10,000, the second half began in a similar muted fashion, although had Jamie Thackray offloaded with Motu Tony in support, that might well have changed.
Brad Drew?s 40-20 kick was the only moment of note, whilst Horne put his defence under pressure with a mistimed clearing kick that went out on the full.
The introduction of the energetic Lee handed Hull the boost they needed and, just moments later, they stretched their lead.
Cooke, switched to the loose forward position to accommodate Lee, sent a searching pass out to the right where Blacklock made no mistake to cross the line.
In a back-handed compliment to the visitors, Horne slotted a 65th-minute drop goal to open up a seven-point advantage.
Kirk Yeaman and Dixon then combined to force a knock-on out of James Evans, with the centre set to begin a Huddersfield revival.
As Hull struggled to close out the win, a tale of two passes effectively ended the tie. First, when faced only with an isolated Tony, Stuart Jones sent a horrendous forward pass to the onrushing Andy Raleigh with the try line open.
Just a minute later, Yeaman was far cooler in similar circumstances, providing Horne with a simple canter to the line.
Hull (8) 19. Tries: Domic, Blacklock, R. Horne. Goals: Cooke 3. Drop Goals: R. Horne.
Huddersfield (6) 6. Tries: Mason. Goals: De Vere.
Hull: Tony, Blacklock, Domic, Yeaman, Dixon, Cooke, R. Horne, Dowes, Swain, Carvell, Radford, McMenemy, Washbrook. Replacements: G. Horne, Thackray, Lee, Wheeldon.
Huddersfield: Reilly, Aspinwall, Evans, De Vere, Donlan, March, Paul, Mason, Drew, Gannon, Smith, Raleigh, Jones. Replacements: Crabtree, Jackson, McDonald, Wild.
Referee: Phil Bentham (Castleford)