SUPER LEAGUE: BEN JONES-BISHOP enhanced his rapidly growing reputation as Leeds Rhinos maintained their 100 per cent start to the new Super League season with a convincing victory over disappointing Hull FC.
The 22-year-old winger, who scored a hat-trick to secure last weekend’s dramatic opening day win against Bradford Bulls, notched a stunning 80m effort to ruin the Airlie Birds’ hopes last night.
Jones-Bishop also impressively reverted to his natural full-back role after an early injury to Brent Webb, with resilient Leeds shrugging off further injuries to Carl Ablett and Brett Delaney to fend off Hull’s late efforts to mount a comeback.
Richard Agar’s men, who endured a poor loss against Hull KR in Cardiff, have not won a Super League game against Leeds for almost four years, last night’s defeat their seventh successive reverse against their Yorkshire rivals.
Agar gave Sam Obst his debut off the bench following Tuesday’s transfer from Wakefield Trinity Wildcats and looked to solve the right-side defensive problems exploited by Rovers by moving Willie Manu to centre allowing Tom Briscoe a return to his customary wing slot.
But it was to no avail as indecision there again was capitalised on by Leeds who eased into a 20-6 interval lead and profited from the hosts’ profligacy.
Hull supporters delivered a rousing rendition of Old Faithful before kick-off as a mark of respect for their late club president David Kirkwood, but they were soon silenced when Webb slid over inside two minutes.
Jamie Jones-Buchanan squeezed out an off-load that caught them off guard, Ablett fed Rob Burrow who delayed his pass before unleashing Keith Senior down Hull’s fallible right-hand side, Webb motoring up inside in support as always to finish a fine move.
Kevin Sinfield converted and Leeds could have increased their advantage when the excellent Danny Buderus surged clear up the middle and kicked ahead but Briscoe got back just in time to deny Webb.
The Kiwi full-back had an eventful opening eight minutes – he should have scored again following another piercing of Hull’s right-edge, Senior proving too powerful but Webb was halted by a fine tap tackle from Will Sharp.
The tackle left him with a knee injury which saw him depart, prompting a re-jig with Jones-Bishop switching to full-back and Lee Smith coming on to play down the wing.
Hull responded when Mark O’Meley barged over on 15 minutes. It came from their first real attack and the first penalty of the game, Sinfield having interfered with Sharp, although referee Richard Silverwood thankfully proved the ludicrous high penalty counts at Cardiff stayed there.
Danny Tickle levelled with the conversion but Leeds continued to be the most potent threat, Jones-Buchanan brilliantly held up by Richard Whiting and Kirk Yeaman showing equal intelligence to defuse Sinfield’s clever kick which threatened to expose them again.
Hull had limited opportunities but Sam Moa should have done better when set-up close, the Tongan forward cheaply coughing up to let Leeds off.
He was made to pay as their opponents scored an outstanding team try soon after, started by Sinfield who eased across the pitch 10 metres inside his own half and finished by Burrow after a breathtaking passage involving nine passes which once more ripped apart Hull’s weak side.
More was to come seconds before the interval when Jones-Bishop romped in for that coruscating individual effort.
Sean Long’s kick through was thoughtfully tipped back to the winger by Sinfield and Jones-Bishop returned, quickly finding space and speeding in for a try which left Hull dejected.
Leeds were already without the injured Ali Lauitiiti and ill Ben Cross but Delaney impressed as a makeshift second-row before limping off and they showed no signs of struggling. Weller Hauraki made a belated debut and Chris Clarkson also earned a call-up.
Danny Washbrook returned for Hull in an effort to bolster the middle of their park, Ewan Dowes missing out and Reece Lyne also being omitted, but Agar’s moves did not pay off.
After the break, Hull second-row Joe Westerman was unlucky not to get a try when Buderus seemed to check him when chasing Obst’s grubber kick but it was Leeds who scored first through Clarkson.
Hull showed initiative, though, by winning a short re-start and the explosive O’Meley bulldozed over for his second try between the posts, Tickle making it 24-12.
However, it was another false dawn as Hauraki grabbed a debut try just after the hour mark, his impromptu kick bouncing fortuitously for Buderus who returned for a simple score.
Sharp – who ran well out of dummy half all night – hit back after Briscoe’s 70m raid was initially denied by Jones-Bishop, Tickle kicking his third goal, but Burrow and Sinfield added drop-goals to complete the win which would have been more emphatic if Sinfield had succeeded with more than three of his six conversion attempts.
Hull FC: Whiting; Sharp, Manu, Yeaman, Briscoe; Turner, Long; O’Meley, Houghton, Radford, Westerman, Tickle, Ftzgibbon. Substitutes: Obst, Moa, Washbrook, Lauaki.
Leeds Rhinos: Webb; Jones-Bishop, Watkins, Senior, Hall; Sinfield, Burrow; Leuluai, Buderus, Burgess, Jones-Buchanan, Delaney, Ablett. Substitutes: Kirke, Clarkson, Hauraki, Smith.
Referee: R Silverwood (Mirfield).