Rovers claim Superleague place


Hull Kingston Rovers claimed a place in engage Super League for the first time after defeating Widnes Vikings 29-16 in the National League One Grand Final at Warrington.

The East Yorkshire team ended a memorable season on a high by securing a return to the big time after a 12-year absence while Widnes were condemned to a second year in the National League.

Rovers? handsome victory confirmed the boom on Humberside, with neighbours Hull FC through to the engage Super League Grand Final against St Helens and no doubt relishing the return of the big derby.

Centre Jon Goddard scored two tries and could have had a hat-trick while the match was also a personal triumph for Australian boss Justin Morgan, who has taken Rovers to the promised land in his first full season and will become engage Super League?s youngest head coach at just 31.

That distinction once belonged to Widnes coach Steve McCormack, who suffered a hat-trick of Grand Final defeats after losing with Whitehaven in each of the two previous years.

There was misery, too, for popular former Wigan Warriors and Great Britain prop Terry O?Connor, who had hoped to guide his home-town back to Super League at the first attempt before finally hanging up his boots.

The 34-year-old front rower never stopped trying to inspire his team but his 415th match will not go down as one of his most memorable.

Rovers, who finished four points above the Vikings at the end of the regular season, won all three meetings with them this year and this was arguably their most comfortable.

Their victory platform was laid by their big men in a ferocious opening, with Makali Aizue and Michael Smith puncturing holes in the Vikings defence with alarming ease.

The one-way traffic began with hooker Ben Fisher working an opening on six minutes for Goddard to put winger Byron Ford over for the first of three first-half tries.

Aizue then dropped the ball on a charge to the line but the Robins maintained the pressure and Goddard pounced for his first try after Damien Blanch and Sean Gleeson both failed to deal with James Webster?s kick to the corner.

It got even worse for the Vikings when Hull KR stand-off Scott Murrell forced his way over from dummy half after an exciting dash from dangerous full-back Ben Cockayne.

Gareth Morton, whose first conversion attempt rebounded off an upright, kicked his second goal to make it 16-0 but Widnes pulled a try back seven minutes before the break when veteran second rower Mick Cassidy sent full-back Gavin Dodd in for a try.

However, Rovers were not finished and another example of decisive finishing brought Goddard his second converted try following another superb run from Cockayne.

Widnes had pinned their hopes on the big-match experience of their Wigan old boys but it was a handling error by one of them, Barrie McDermott, early in the second half that led directly to Rovers? next try from which there was no return.

Murrell punished them with a midfield break that set up the position for Webster to send substitute Pat Weisner over for his side?s fifth try.

Widnes rallied briefly, with loose forward Bob Beswick carving out a try for substitute Ryan Tandy but Goddard twice went close to completing his hat-trick as Rovers continued to dominate.

A drop goal from Murrell, who succeeded where Webster had failed, edged the Yorkshiremen further ahead but Blanch, a tryscorer in Castleford Tigers? Grand Final victory 12 months earlier, got a consolation effort for the Vikings.

Dodd kicked his second goal to add a touch of respectability to the scoreboard but Rovers had the final say when Morton kicked an injury-time penalty.

Hull KR: (22) 29 Tries: Ford, J. Goddard 2, Murrell, Weisner Goals: Morton 4 Drop Goals: Murrell

Widnes Vikings: (4) 16 Tries: Dodd, Candy, Blanch Goals: Dodd 2

Hull KR: Cockayne, Rivett, Morton, J. Goddard, Ford, Murrell, Webster, Aizue, Fisher, Tangata-Toa, Morrison, Smith, Gallacher. Replacements: Weisner, Barker, J. Netherton, Wilson.

Widnes Vikings: Dodd, Blanch, Gleeson, Cardiss, Kirkpatrick, Moran, Watson, O?Connor, Smith, McDermott, Cassidy, Allen, Beswick. Replacements: Summers, Wilkes, James, Candy.

Referee: P Bentham (Warrington)

Att: 14,500 (played at Warrington)