THEY may have only won by virtue of a last-minute drop goal but Travis Burns insists Hull KR were the “lot better” team in an epic derby with Hull FC.
In all fairness, even the most ardent Hull fan would struggle to argue against the Rovers stand-off’s assessment.
After he saw his drop goal charged down in the 78th minute, it was left to colleague Craig Hall to clinch a dramatic 21-20 win at Craven Park on Thursday night.
However, having had three ‘tries’ ruled out by some strange decisions from the video officials, Hull KR’s fourth straight Super League victory should really have been far more comprehensive.
“It was great to win such a terrific derby,” Burns told The Yorkshire Post.
“It was a packed crowd and both teams had probably struck a little bit of form through the last three or four weeks so we knew it was always going to be a tough battle. But I thought we were the lot better team by a fair way.
“I scratch my head sometimes looking at a few of those decisions. We don’t seem to ever get a 50-50 call but we were good enough to get the job done and won it in the dying seconds so it’s two points for us.”
Burns, who was inspirational in Rovers’ display, had no issue with Hall going for the deciding drop goal.
“It sort of ended up on the right side of the posts which probably just opens up Hally’s side more,” he explained, his colleague having only come into the starting line-up at late notice due to an injury to scrum-half Kris Keating.
“I knew they were going to put a bit of pressure on myself, too, but I’ve seen Hally kick field goals from 60 yards so it was good that he nailed that one.
“It was a big effort from him and all the side, too, really.
“Mick Weyman never did our ‘Captain’s Run’ as he was struck down with a stomach bug, then we lost Kris Keating in that session, too – to lose your half-back the day before a game is always hard – while Hull came here to give us a real good test and physical battle.
“But I really think our forwards laid the platform to get that win.
“It’s a lot easier playing off good go-forward and our pack on Thursday night was exceptional.”
Burns, 30, was mystified when Kevin Larroyer’s second ‘try’ was disallowed by video referee Richard Silverwood, who also chalked off efforts from Kris Welham and Neville Costigan which, on another day, would often have been given.
Burns was deemed to have shoulder charged Jacob Miller after the Hull scrum-half had dropped the ball preceding Larroyer’s finish but the Rovers vice-captain simply seemed committed to the challenge.
“There was no malice in it; I was there putting pressure on him,” he said. “I didn’t put my arms around him so, technically, it is a shoulder charge but we are playing a physical sport…”
It did not matter in the end yet, after Hull hooker Danny Houghton was awarded a dubious effort by Silverwood in the 64th minute to bring the visitors into touching distance at 20-16, the home crowd was incandescent.
RFL match officials director Jon Sharp, the former Hull FC player, was met with some real abuse from supporters as he left his seat in the main stand at that stage and made his way downstairs.
Some of the decisions by both the video officials and match referee James Child do suggest Sharp has his work cut out.
Rovers, though, depart for France this morning – they play Catalan on Easter Monday – having revived a season which started with them failing to win any of their opening five games.
Burns said the 28-24 Challenge Cup loss to Warrington Wolves has proved crucial in their recent renaissance.
“We were really down after that, having been a bit unlucky in that game,” said the club vice-captain. “We were disappointed to be knocked out but we set a goal as a group to win our next three games.
“The job’s not done yet. We’ve got two of the three, having won at Warrington in the league and beaten Hull but we have a tough trip to Catalans. I think we’re improving every week and you can see our game plan is starting to come together and, as we did, when you put eight new players in a squad – as much as you don’t want to use it as an excuse – it does take time to click.”