WHEN Garry Schofield sees the clips of the pivotal moments from this game he will rightly afford himself a wry smile.
The Great Britain legend loved a chip-and-chase during his illustrious career and has often bemoaned how the tactic has almost died away in the modern era where retaining possession is seen as so key.
However, Hull KR twice adopted the play yesterday in quick succession to produce two tries which helped transform their match against Catalans Dragons and complete a remarkable resurgence which dragged them off the bottom of Super League.
Chris Chester’s side had trailed 20-4 just before half-time and seemed destined to suffer a fifth defeat of the year and a sixth successive home loss versus their French visitors who seem to always come good in east Hull.
However, tries from Ben Cockayne and Albert Kelly – the latter a brilliant sidestepping 40m solo effort up the middle –either side of the break suddenly got them in touching distance and left nervous Catalans teetering.
Then, after Michael Oldfield dropped Terry Campese’s hanging kick, Ken Sio went in for his second try in the 49th minute, Josh Mantellato nailing the touchline conversion to put the home side in front for the first time.
Sio was denied a hat-trick by Cockayne’s forward pass but did go over for his treble – and sixth try in five games – moments later to leave Craven Park rocking.
It came from the first of those daring kicks, Kelly, the livewire scrum-half signed from Gold Coast Titans, dinking his grubber through and giving chase, just regathering despite being checked before somehow producing a flick on to the excellent Australian winger.
Next, Campese, the Australian stand-off who has been a revelation since joining from Canberra Raiders, followed the example of his half-back partner.
He chipped over in the middle and, helped by a flailing Catalan hand, re-collected to find Shaun Lunt, the ex-England hooker only signed on loan from Huddersfield Giants last Thursday, in support for the first of his debut brace.
Hull KR, having cut out the needless errors and poor discipline of their first half, were revitalised.
Kelly’s audacious cut-out pass unleashed Liam Salter, the centre in for the injured Darrell Goulding, who romped 40m down the touchline to score before Lunt backed up another clinical move down the middle for his second.
Cockayne earned another, too, soon after to leave the home fans purring, Mantellato finishing with seven goals from nine attempts.
It was such a far cry from the opening half. Poor starts have been Hull KR’s downfall this term and they were at it again yesterday.
The manner in which Rovers conceded the first try after just 70 seconds was worrying.
When Willie Tonga received the ball out wide on the left 10m out, the former Australia centre was as surprised as anyone that the home defence simply did not move off its goaline, making his progress over it so simplistic.
Scott Dureau could not convert yet Catalans thought they were in quickly again when Zeb Taia collected Dureau’s crossfield kick but the second-row had clearly pushed Kelly before taking possession over the line.
Rovers did, at least, rally with the next try on 16 minutes after Morgan Escare fumbled Campese’s towering kick.
From that mistake, there was some real ingenuity to their play as they created the space down the right for ex-Parramatta star Sio to score his first.
But Mantellato, too, could not improve and he could only watch on as his side conceded again having been reduced to 12 men. After an altercation between rival props Adam Walker and Jeff Lima there was an altogether less fair match-up between a third front-row – Rovers’ Mitch Allgood – and Catalan scrum-half Dureau with the home player raining down a flurry of punches.
He was duly sin-binned and, though Rovers were awarded the penalty, Walker knocked on allowing the position for, soon after, Elliott Whitehead to produce a lovely flick pass to squeeze Oldfield over at the corner.
Catalans were more fortunate with their third try following a ricochet off Kelly that saw Remi Casty steam over but when Eloi Pelissier raced in after Dureau’s inside pass had unleashed Escare, Dureau’s kick making it 20-4, there seemed only one winner. Rovers had other ideas, though.
It was a fitting way to send off Mick Weyman, the retiring Australian prop who was given a rapturous reception. To cap the afternoon for Rovers, Hull FC slip to the foot of the table. Something which won’t make former Black and White Schofield quite as buoyant.
Hull KR: Cockayne; Mantellato, Welham, Salter, Sio; Campese, Kelly; Walker, Boudebza, Allgood, Blair, McCarthy, Burke. Substitutes: Lunt, Horne, Green, Larroyer.
Catalans Dragons: Escare; Oldfield, Pomeroy, Tonga, Duport; Bosc, Dureau; Elima, Henderson, Lima, Taia, Whitehead, Mounis. Substitutes: Casty, Anderson, Pelissier, Bousquet.