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2 days ago
Hull FC?s inexorable rise hit new heights as a 26-12 victory over Catalans Dragons - their 17th from 18 games - virtually assured them of a second-placed finish in the engage Super League.
Peter Sharp?s side shrugged off a wretched opening 40 minutes to overturn Catalans? 6-4 interval advantage with second-half tries from Garreth Carvell, Sid Domic, Graeme Horne and Motu Tony.
The French visitors, led superbly by inspirational skipper Stacey Jones, belied their position at the bottom of the engage Super League with a determined and vibrant first-half display.
But Hull improved markedly after the break to beat Catalans for the third time this season and move four points clear of third-placed Leeds Rhinos with just two games remaining.
It would take a significant collapse for Hull to now relinquish second spot and this latest victory further encouraged hopes at the KC Stadium that engage Super League title glory is eminently possible.
Significantly, if Hull do retain second place and beat St Helens at Knowsley Road in their top two play-off clash, they would go straight through to the Grand Final at Old Trafford on October 14.
Under the astute guidance of Sharp, the prospect cannot be discounted. The Australian has made a remarkable impact since he was appointed as successor to John Kear by winning 14 of his 15 games in charge.
However, Sharp?s side must avoid a repeat of the error-strewn first-half display which allowed Catalans to put themselves on course for a shock success.
Hull began sluggishly and were punished after 10 minutes when Laurent Frayssinous sent Jones scurrying under the posts from close range.
Frayssinous landed the goal to put Catalans 6-0 ahead before Jones began to enhance his reputation as one of the finest half-backs in the game.
His teasing kicks and jinking side-steps constantly threatened Hull, but the hosts began to feel their way into the game and came desperately close to scoring after 15 minutes.
Danny Washbrook?s excellent offload sent Richard Horne clear but Catalans full-back Thomas Bosc denied the Hull scrum-half with a crucial tackle.
However, after 23 minutes the hosts registered their first points when a fine move saw the ball pass through four pairs of hands and culminated in Shaun Briscoe crossing in the right corner.
Paul Cooke failed to convert and missed a penalty five minutes later as the blustery conditions hampered both his attempts.
The pendulum seemed to swing further in Hull?s favour shortly before the half-hour mark when Catalans replacement Adel Fellous was sin-binned for persistent offside infringements.
Not surprisingly, Hull improved markedly after the break and Carvell raced 20 metres through a gap in the Catalans defence after 51 minutes to claim a try converted by Cooke.
The giant stand-off landed another routine penalty four minutes later to give Hull a little breathing space at 12-6 before Domic raced into the left corner for his side?s third try.
The momentum was now firmly with Hull and a neat offload sent Horne racing over before Tony ran 70 metres with five minutes remaining to seal victory with the try of the match.
Cooke failed to add to his three goals from another difficult angle but his side were already home and dry.
However, Catalans had the final say in the closing stages when Bosc touched down Julen Rinaldi?s kick in the left corner before Frayssinous landed his second goal.
Hull FC (4) 26 Tries: Briscoe, Carvell, Domic, G. Horne, Tony. Goals: Cooke 3.
Catalans Dragons (6) 12 Tries: Jones, Bosc. Goals: Frayssinous 2.
Hull FC: Tony, Briscoe, Domic, Yeaman, Raynor, Cooke, R. Horne, Dowes, Swain, Carvell, Radford, McMenemy, Washbrook. Replacements: King, Whiting, G. Horne, Wheeldon.
Catalans Dragons: Bosc, Murphy, Sadaoui, Hughes, Verges, Frayssinous, Jones, Beattie, Rinaldi, Chan, Fakir, Hindmarsh, Mounis. Replacements: Fellous, Griffi, Berthezene, Touxagas.
Referee: R Silverwood (Dewsbury)