Hull FC 15 Leeds Rhinos 20: Hull knocked off top by Kallum Watkins’s late brace

Liam Sutcliffe scores the Rhinos' opening try.
Liam Sutcliffe scores the Rhinos' opening try.
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Kallum Watkins’s 100th try for Leeds knocked Hull FC off the top of the Super League table in a breathtaking finish at the KCOM Stadium.

The Rhinos trailed 15-8 after 71 minutes but Watkins went over twice in four minutes to earn his side a 20-15 victory which enabled them to complete the league double following their 20-18 victory at Headingley in April.

Leeds stay bottom despite the win, while Hull relinquish top spot following Wigan’s last-gasp triumph over Wakefield.

Hull, who suffered a surprise defeat at second-bottom Huddersfield a week earlier, could have no complaints after being out-scored four tries to two in a game in which hardly resembled a top-versus-bottom clash.

The Rhinos gave a debut to hooker James Segeyaro, who was prominent early on as the visitors made a bright and breezy start, opening the scoring in customary fashion.

A handling error from Hull stand-off Carlos Tuimavave presented the Rhinos with a perfect attacking position and stand-in skipper Rob Burrow made the most of it by sending full-back Liam Sutcliffe over for a third-minute try.

Winger Ash Handley was then held up over the line by a scrambling defence but Hull gradually weathered the storm and worked their way into the game.

A 40-20 kick from Marc Sneyd set up the position for Tuimavave to weave a path to the line for Hull’s first try midway through the first half, although it proved to be his last significant contribution as he went off injured six minutes later.

With the versatile Danny Washbrook taking over at stand-off, though, Hull continued to look more threatening with the ball and they extended their lead on 32 minutes when long-serving centre Kirk Yeaman caught the Leeds defence napping with a run from first receiver.

Sneyd kicked his conversion, this time from the touchline, and also slotted a drop goal on the stroke of half-time but there was a big moment just before that when Hull centre Mahe Fonua stole the ball from Leeds second rower Jamie Jones-Buchanan to ruin a potential overlap for the visitors.

With Segeyaro back on for his second spell at the start of the second half, Leeds got their second wind and rocked their hosts with some more enterprising play.

Veteran forward Jamie Jones-Buchanan had a try disallowed on his 350th appearance for offside but centre Joel Moon went over on 48 minutes after winger Ryan Hall collected Burrow’s high kick to the corner.

Sutcliffe was off target for the second time with his conversion attempt and Sneyd put his side two scores in front with a penalty after Leeds prop Keith Galloway had been pulled up for a high tackle on Scott Taylor.

The reigning champions simply would not accept defeat, though, and they dominated the final quarter.

Jones-Buchanan was held up on his back over the line and, as Hull were forced to concede back-to-back drop-outs, the pressure became relentless. Hull’s defence finally cracked nine minutes from the end when Watkins collected a ricochet to score his first try and then crashed over for his landmark score. Sutcliffe added one conversion and wrapped up the scoring with a penalty after the final hooter had sounded.

Rhinos coach Brian McDermott said he was “proud of the players” after only their sixth victory in 23 competitive games since last year’s Grand Final triumph.

“I thought the defence was great throughout, a bit like last week and probably the week before,” said the coach. “While there are some blips every now and again, I thought our defence was hungry all game.

“We came out and we had a huge amount of momentum to start with. We scored a try and looked the dominant team and Hull came back.

““Hull are a good team and the most pleasing thing about it is we beat a good team, not a team that was poor.

“They came back and got hold of the game and for us to fight again and get back into the game again, it’s probably the first time we have done that this year.

Hull coach Lee Radford said: “I am glad Leeds are not in the eight. I felt all week the way they play and the tempo they play at with the ball could hurt us.

“But knowing it and stopping it are two different things.”

Hull FC: Shaul, Michaels, Fonua, Yeaman, Talanoa, Tuimavave, Sneyd, Taylor, Houghton, Watts, Manu, Minichiello, Hadley. 
Substitutes: Thompson, Bowden, Downs, Washbrook.

Leeds Rhinos: Sutcliffe, Handley, Watkins, Moon, Hall, Lilley, Burrow, Galloway, Segeyaro, Garbutt, Achurch, Ablett, Singleton. Substitutes: Cuthbertson, Delaney, Keinhorst, Jones-Buchanan.

Referee: C Campbell (RFL).

Leeds Rhinos look set to complete the signing of Featherstone Rovers prop Jack Ormondroyd for the 2017 season.