VIDEO - Hull KR 12 Widnes Vikings 6: Rovers rejoin the elite

0
Have your say

HULL KR are back in Super League.

Just seven short words that mean so, so much to the people of East Hull.

Hull KR celebrate being promoted to the Super League. Picture by Simon Hulme

Hull KR celebrate being promoted to the Super League. Picture by Simon Hulme

Twelve months after suffering the agony of relegation in the Million Pound Game, Rovers found ecstasy at the same Craven Park venue today as they edged a tense and absorbing Qualifiers game against Super League Widnes Vikings.

Tries from Thomas Minns and Ryan Shaw sealed the points, meaning the Championship side have now won all five Middle Eights games so far.

Tim Sheens’ team knew if Warrington Wolves also beat Leigh Centurions this afternoon - that game kicked off 15 minutes earlier - that scenario would see them promoted.

So, when singing about Warrington around the 62nd minute mark, Rovers fans made their tiring players, 8-6 ahead at the time, fully aware that Wolves had held their side of the bargain.

Hull KR's Chris Clarkson.

Hull KR's Chris Clarkson.

Granted, there was great drama at the Halliwell Jones Stadium, too, where last season’s beaten Grand Finalists only actually edged home 32-30 to secure their own safety.

But Rovers - who last won promotion to Super League by beating the same opponents in the 2006 National League One final - held their nerve, too, to complete the job even though Widnes looked set to break them at a critical juncture in the 69th minute.

However, as Lloyd White found space, and with KR badly stretched, Matt Whitley’s final pass was crucially picked off by Shaw, the ex-Bradford Bulls winger who raced 80m to score at the other end.

The majority of the 8,227 crowd were on its feet at the sight and Jamie Ellis should have then made certain with the conversion attempt.

The scrum-half, though, shunted the simple shot wide of the posts - just as he had done with an earlier penalty from 30m out in front.

It meant his side remained just six points ahead at 12-6 so the tension remained on edge especially as Widnes won back the short re-start.

This time, though, unlike that infamous Million Pound Game, there was no late collapse, Rovers staying firm to spark joyous scenes at the final whistle.

Having also won at Leigh, Hull KR have now beaten both Super League sides they have met so far, underlining just why they warrant their place back among the elite.

They host another - Catalans Dragons - on Friday before heading to Warrington but the results are immaterial; they will finish at least third in the table regardless and cannot be caught.

Sheens, in the Australian’s 700th club game, picked Jordan Abdull, the on-loan Hull FC half-back playing his first senior game since breaking a bone in his foot in June.

He left out Chris Atkin, the recent signing from Swinton Lions, to accommodate his return while Kieren Moss also featured with Justin Carney nursing a knock.

Widnes started well with KR - who saw the tireless Chris Clarkson make his 200th career appearance - struggling for early field position given the strength of not only their opposition forwards but also the kicking game of Danny Craven.

The former Halifax scrum-half was not even in the initial 19-man squad having suffered a knee injury in last week’s win over Leigh.

However, when Aaron Heremaia pulled out late on, Craven was bandaged up and started at 7.

You would never have guessed he was injured given the way his pinpoint kicks continually pegged KR back.

That said, the hosts’ defence was resolute and they took the lead through Ellis’ 12th minute penalty after Abdull’s own left boot had forced a drop-out.

They ignored the chance of another easy two points, a decision which backfired when Abdull’s next grubber found only a Widnes player’s grasp.

It was Widnes, instead, who scored the game’s opening try when Sheens’ side failed to challenge for a high Craven kick.

Winger Ryan Ince did and he found Hep Cahill on his shoulder, Craven converting the 21st minute effort.

With defences on top, and KR struggling at times to find cohesion with their attacking plays, there was few other chances of note.

However, the hosts applied enough pressure at the end of the first half to force a try of their own.

Abdull and Maurice Blair produced well-placed kicks to force back-to-back drop-outs and, though they did not capitalise immediately, they did when Matt Whitley spilled coming out of his own 20 at the next set.

Shaun Lunt, typically, was the instigator, dummying one way and going the other from acting-half but it was Mose Masoe - the giant ex-St Helens prop - who provided the telling touch, a deft one for such a big man, slipping out a lovely offload as he fell to the ground to feed Minns with barely a minute remaining.

Ellis converted from the touchline and KR, with Lunt and George Lawler superb, had their noses in front 8-6.

It proved enough. Andrew Heffernan was put on report after a collision which saw Craven go off with a head injury in the 50th minute.

That meant Widnes were down to their fourth-choice full-back in Stefan Marsh; Corey Thompson had also earlier departed injured and Australian Rhys Hanbury was unfit beforehand.

They pressed and pressed but never truly looked like taking their limited chances and now they must sweat on their own Super League future with one of them, Leigh and Catalans destined now to be relegated.

Rovers suffered that fate last year but that is now a distant memory for their elated fans.

Elsewhere, Salford Red Devils ended their eight-match losing run by vanquishing Huddersfield Giants 52-14 in the Super 8s.

Hull KR: Quinlan; Shaw, Heffernan, Minns, Moss; Abdull, Ellis; Scruton, Lawler, Jewitt, Addy, Clarkson, Kavanagh. Substitutes: Greenwood, Lunt, Masoe, Blair.

Widnes Vikings: Thompson; Marsh, Dean, Runciman, Ince; Mellor, Craven; Buchanan, White, Dudson, Whitley, Houston, Cahill. Substitutes: Gerrard, Manuokafoa, Olbison, Walker.

Referee: Gareth Hewer (Whitehaven)