Dobson exploits problems in derby triumph

MICHAEL DOBSON spotted a weakness and routinely exploited it as dominant Hull KR rounded off Millennium Magic last night with a hard-earned derby victory.

The Australian scrum-half, so influential when his team knocked Hull FC out of the Super League play-offs last September, isolated the Airlie Birds’ right-side defence on countless occasions as Rovers proved why they may be one of the contenders in 2011.

Dobson’s ability to prise open meek Hull – he created two tries for Ben Galea and another for Kris Welham – was the gloss as he made the most of Tom Briscoe’s rustiness.

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The England winger’s enforced switch to centre caused considerable problems for Hull down that channel but Rovers’ all-round success was built on a performance rich in character, purpose and determination.

The display of their forwards, led superbly by Clint Newton and Mick Vella, allowed them to overhaul an early 14-0 deficit and stun their city rivals who must have thought they were on course for a comfortable opening night win.

Hull – who gave debuts to Joe Westermen and Will Sharp – had started in glittering fashion.

A sweeping backline move instigated by Sean Long saw Jordan Turner time his pass to perfection creating a hole for Kirk Yeaman to surge through.

Tickle, who had burst clear to set up the position, converted from out wide and did so when Lee Radford crashed over six minutes later.

Long was again at the heart of it, teasing the Rovers defence before luring them out and finding the club captain who showed neat footwork to avoid Dobson’s desperate attempted tackle.

The first obligatory flare-up occurred when Rovers’ Scott Murrell seemingly took offence to something Craig Fitzgibbon did while tackling him. It seemed harmless enough but everything has an edge on derby night and the irritated loose forward threw a couple of punches at the veteran Australian.

Murrell was fortunate to escape with just a lecture from Phil Bentham while Tickle returned from the scene with a gift two points.

Hull initially looked slick when they went wide and showed more willingness to do so than usual.

Willie Manu linked up well with Turner, who impressed having filled in for the injured Richard Horne at stand-off, but could not quite smuggle a pass out to Long after he had broken the line.

Soon after, Blake Green scored a debut try to get Rovers off the mark and begin the fightback, Shaun Briscoe executing the initial midfield raid before Murrell, Newton and Scott Wheeldon combined smartly to send in the Australian stand-off, Dobson converting.

Hull’s Reece Lyne committed the cardinal sin of conceding a penalty while in possession, foolishly trying to con Bentham by claiming Dobson was holding him down in the tackle when the teenage winger was actually clinging on himself, none too discreetly.

His error was compounded when Rovers scored in the next set although second-row Westerman was equally to blame.

Hull’s record-breaking signing from Castleford had barely been on the field when his opposite number Clint Newton brushed him aside far too easily to get in from 10 metres.

Dobson improved and then, with Hull’s discipline clearly slipping, he created a third try for Galea as Rovers took the lead.

The scrum-half’s cleverly-disguised pass allowed the Australian forward to charge through a gaping hole and he just managed to ground the ball despite the best efforts of full-back Richard Whiting.

Hull regathered and exerted some pressure of their own, Houghton proving unlucky not to score after one of his trademark snipes but Rovers crucially grabbed the first score of the second period.

After Whiting fumbled playing the ball, Dobson exploited the same weakness down Hull’s right-hand side, sending Galea in for his second try in almost identical circumstances to his first, Long left clutching.

Jake Webster performed a fine tackle on Yeaman to deny Hull a way back in before Dobson’s guile once more finished off their opponents.

Whiting knocked on behind his own line trying to deal with a difficult kick and, from the resultant possession, Dobson picked them open again.

Long chose to rush out at him in a bid to close his space but the scrum-half saw him coming and swiftly handed on to Kris Welham who cruised through the papethin defence. Welham converted given Dobson was injured in the act of creating the try but he soon resumed to ease Rovers fans’ fears.

Webster also emerged to deny Lyne when the winger found a little chink of space down the wing but then Hull’s profligacy came to the fore, twice wasting possession on the first tackle.

Turner fumbled at the base of a scrum and they also spilled direct from a tap penalty.

Manu’s off-load and Long’s jinking run did get Sharp in for a try on his debut with 10 minutes to go but Dobson and Galea combined again for Welham’s second, Dobson finishing off with his conversion.

Yeaman’s second in the closing minutes was a mere consolation leaving head coach Richard Agar with plenty to mull over before Friday’s game with Leeds.

Rovers chief Justin Morgan, meanwhile, will be rightly pleased with the character of his squad in readiness for Sunday’s trip to Warrington.

Hull FC: Whiting; Sharp, Briscoe, Yeaman, Lyne; Turner, Long; O’Meley, Houghton, Radford, Manu, Tickle, Fitzgibbon.

Substitutes: Dowes, Moa, Lauaki, Westerman.

Hull KR: S Briscoe; Fox, Welham, Webster, Colbon; Green, Dobson; Vella, Fisher, Clinton, Newton, Galea, Murrell.

Substitutes: Hodgson, Wheeldon, Watts, Cockayne.

Referee: P Bentham (Warrington).