ADE GARDNER scored twice as Hull KR held off an inspired comeback from 12-man Hull FC in an enthralling derby at Etihad Stadium.
The Black and Whites looked dead and buried when, trailing 20-12, Jason Crookes was red-carded for a high tackle on Liam Salter in the 50th minute.
On-loan St Helens winger Gardner scored his first in the next set and everyone expected the 222nd derby to be one-way traffic.
However, Fetuli Talanoa craftily stole possession from Ben Cockayne for inspired Hull and Danny Houghton darted over before Iafeta Palea’aesina was more direct as he barged his way through Kevin Larroyer and Cockayne on the hour mark.
Scrum-half Jacob Miller, instrumental for Hull throughout after holding his spot with Richard Horne dropped for Jordan Rankin, converted both to get Rovers edgy.
Yet, maddeningly, Talanoa allowed the restart to bounce dead to ease all the pressure and so, instead, Gardner was able to edge over for his second with eight minutes to go, Burns doing the business from wide out.
Josh Hodgson, brilliant at hooker for Rovers, then sealed a win at the death which sees his side replace their city rivals in the top eight and increase pressure on Airlie Birds coach Lee Radford following a third successive loss.
Hull KR looked on course for an emphatic win when they built up an 18-0 lead after just 22 minutes.
Salter crossed after he latched onto Cockayne’s pass in the 10th minute and they were in again when Hodgson ushered Larroyer over.
Straight after that, Salter was in again when some awful Hull defence allowed Kris Keating to bump off tacklers following Hodgson’s incisive break.
With Travis Burns converting all three, Rovers - who surprisingly left out Craig Hall, so often a derby hero - were in command.
However, it is never that simple with these sorts of affairs.
Hull struck back twice before half-time, first when Dean Hadley cut a perfect line off Joe Westerman’s cute pass and then when Jamie Shaul finished off Kirk Yeaman’s break just 71 seconds before the interval.
Miller improved both only for Burns to add a penalty soon after the break and then convert Gardner’s try in the set after Crookes’ dismissal.
There was a wobble but Rovers - who won the Easter derby 21-20 - held on.