How city rivals Hull FC and Hull KR produced derby thriller to finally match all the hype

ON many occasions in recent years, the Hull derby has simply not lived up to all the hype.

The fixture Hull FC and Hull KR fascinate over so readily and eagerly espouse as being the greatest of all derbies, with tales of bitter rivalry, families being split and such highly- charged atmospheres, has so often been annoyingly anti-climatic.

Saturday was not one of these instances. Far from it.

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The city’s warring neighbours produced a brilliant rugby league game that not only did so much to reinforce belief in this historic fixture but gave the sport itself a significant lift.

This is what so many people fell in love with. It was certainly the greatest such derby of the summer era.

And how Super League, which has felt tired and jaded in another Covid-battered year, needed such a bold and vivid advert of its merits.

It almost felt immaterial who won although do not say that in earshot of Robins fans this morning as they deliberate the major turning points and were left to reflect how a potential win on the other side of the river slipped away.

Their side could have been up to fourth place in Super League today, usurping Wigan Warriors and gathering yet more momentum towards the play-offs.

Hull FC's Jordan Lane, Manu Ma'u and Danny Houghton celebrate their 23-22 Super League victory over Hull KR. Picture: John Clifton/SWPix.

Instead, Brett Hodgson’s Hull - blessed by the brilliance of Jake Connor on his return from injury - are the side invigorated having ended a four-game losing run and slipped into the sixth and final play-off spot to sit just 0.2 points behind KR in fifth.

They are back at the MKM Stadium on Thursday to host Castleford Tigers when, at the same time on the east of the city, Rovers entertain Wakefield Trinity.

With further games next Monday as the schedule tightens, it is a pivotal stage of the campaign for both clubs given the improving and chasing Leeds Rhinos and Castleford are similarly poised just beneath.

But why was Saturday so good?

Hull FC co-captain Marc Sneyd celebrates his decisive drop goal against Hull KR. Picture: John Clifton/SWPix.

Frenetic, with end-to-end action, big hits, big talking points, some quality tries, both sides seeking to play attractive football and a dramatic conclusion, it had every requisite ingredient: the players delivered.

As has so often been the case in his seven-year career with the Black and Whites, a Marc Sneyd drop-goal essentially proved the difference but it would be remiss to single out the prolific scrum-half as the matchwinner here.

Jordan Lane, the tireless loose-forward, also somehow summoned up more energy to charge down Rowan Milnes’ attempted drop goal in the final seconds before regathering and charging upfield to get to the final hooter.

Milnes had been superb orchestrating Rovers with his cultured left boot, tormenting Hull in the first period especially, but he will rue not getting in a position to even attempt a strike in the previous set.

Skewing a drop goal wide in the first period when the game was level 4-4 was a bizarre choice, too, given how on top energised Rovers were at that point.

Milnes is still only 21, though, and was playing part-time for Bradford Bulls not long ago. He will learn from the experience. And the way he kicked earlier, forcing three successive drop-outs and scoring a wonderful solo try, suggests the rangy half-back has a bright future in the sport.

Hull, in fairness, will say they should have had an unassailable lead by the end given Carlos Tuimavave (twice) and Cameron Scott both had tries ruled out by the video referee that, on another day, could easily have all been given.

Nevertheless, they did just have enough in their arsenal to secure bragging rights from the 238th derby and send home their fans - starved of watching this fixture live for 18 months - delirious.

Clearly they have missed Connor since he injured his knee in June and the difference the England international makes was immediately and blatantly obvious. He brings so much invention and class to their attacking shape at full-back, making the final pass for the second of Bureta Faraimo’s tries having picked out Adam Swift wonderfully for the opener and then found a magic tip-on in the build-up to Faraimo’s first.

Jimmy Keinhorst had scored KR’s opening try but they trailed 16-10 at the break before Milnes slipped Ben Crooks through for the full-back to level.

Faraimo’s second try, a Sneyd penalty and that drop-goal saw Hull pull clear but Albert Vete’s late converted try set up a suitably thrilling conclusion.

What happens next for both clubs is perfectly poised to be similarly enthralling.

Hull FC: Connor; Swift, Scott, Tuimavave, Faraimo; Reynolds, Sneyd; Sao, Houghton, Fash, Ma’u, Savelio, Lane. Substitutes: Taylor, Cator, Brown, Shaul.

Hull KR: Crooks; Keinhorst, Minikin, Kenny-Dowall, Hall; Takairangi, Milnes; Vete, Parcell, King, Linnett, Johnson, Lawler. Substitutes: Sims, Litten, Storton, Maher.

Referee: Liam Moore (Leeds).