WHEN JOEL Moon was switched from centres into the halves a month ago it seemed like a stopgap solution to a long-standing problems for Leeds Rhinos.
Five games on, Moon is really looking the part and was outstanding in a 52-24 win at KCOM Stadium which piled more misery on Hull a week after a disastrous 54-18 home loss to Salford.
Even without the injured Jimmy Keinhorst, Rhinos coach Brian McDermott opted to leave Moon in the halves and move Liam Sutcliffe to the three-quarters.
Leeds lost Sutcliffe to concussion and full-back Ashton Golding with a hamstring problem and the injuries could mean Moon having to revert back to centre for Monday’s visit of Widnes Vikings, but the switch is likely to be made only reluctantly.
His running game complements captain Danny McGuire’s organisation and he is becoming a key threat close to the opposition’s line. The Australian twice stepped through Hull’s floundering defence for sparkling solo tries which put Leeds firmly on the front foot in the first half.
Moon was one of the stand-outs in an impressive all-round team effort by Leeds, who had not scored a half century of points against Super League opposition since the record Challenge Cup thrashing of Hull KR in August, 2015.
It was their highest-ever score at Hull, but they did not have it all their own way, particularly in the third quarter. But Leeds started well and got much of the job done by building 30-12 interval lead.
Hull threatened a fightback when they scored the first two tries in the second half, but never managed to get within touching distance and Rhinos finished strongly with 16 late points.
The home team had the wind in their sails when McGuire was sin-binned on 56 minutes, following a team warning and Mark Minichiello scored Hull’s try moments later.
But the Black and Whites were reduced to 12 soon afterwards, with their leader Gareth Ellis banished in similar circumstances and that, effectively, ended their fightback.
Mahe Fonua was also yellow-carded in the final moments as the hosts’ frustration with referee James Child bubbled over. Albert Kelly returned from compassionate leave and tested Leeds on occasions, but Hull were hampered by a couple of early injuries, made life difficult for themselves with a series of poor errors and their defence was paper-thin.
Full-back Jamie Shaul scored a fine solo try and was their best individual, but few of his teammates did themselves justice and Leeds were worthy winners.
Three tries in six minutes in the first half set them on course, Ryan Hall, Matt Parcell and Moon crossing after McGuire’s early try had been cancelled out by Steve Michaels.
Sutcliffe maintained a 100 per cent conversion rate to make it 24-6, but Hull cut the gap when prop Scott Taylor, back in the side after injury, forced his way over from close-range and Marc Sneyd added his second goal.
Moon scored his second try three minutes before the interval and Sutcliffe kicked a penalty after the hooter to send Rhinos in 18 points ahead.
Shaul’s brilliant long-range touchdown gave Hull hope and they were well in the game when Minichiello crossed and Sneyd landed his fourth conversion with 24 minutes left, but that was as good as it got for the hosts.
Sutcliffe, who finished with nine goals from 11 attempts, kicked penalties either side of Minichiello’s try and Kallum Watkins finished strongly from close-range before the hard-working Mitch Garbutt went over and then Anthony Mullally capped a fine game with a solo score in the final moments, the last try being converted by Rob Burrow.
Hull FC: Shaul, Michaels, Fonua, Griffin, Talanoa, Kelly, Sneyd, Taylor, Washbrook, Bowden, Manu, Minichiello, Watts. Substitutes: Thompson, Fash, Ellis, Connor.
Leeds Rhinos: Golding, Briscoe, Watkins, Sutcliffe, Hall, McGuire, Moon, Garbutt, Parcell, Cuthbertson, Jones-Buchanan, Delaney, Mullally. Substitutes: Burrow, Ward, Galloway, Baldwinson.
Referee: J Child (Batley).