Hull FC 0 Hull KR 40: Stark reality hits Tony Smith as rampant Robins underline gulf
After watching Hull KR dismantle his team with consummate ease, privately he may admit the gulf is wider than first thought.
The Black and Whites have earned a reputation as a side that capitulate when the going gets tough, as evidenced by their lowly finishes in recent Super League seasons.
In the biggest fixture of the year in the city, Hull hit rock bottom on their way to a record 40-0 derby defeat at the hands of their bitter rivals and a sixth loss in a row this season.
Playing at a fast tempo with boundless energy and support runners at every turn, the Robins are everything Smith wants his team to be.
Perhaps gallingly for Super League's most experienced coach, he was the man that set the wheels in motion at Craven Park.
Now on the other side of the great divide, Smith can only look on with envy as he surveys the wreckage that is his Hull squad, which will be unrecognisable this time next year with 20 players coming off contract.
Smith was serenaded with chants of "You're getting sacked in the morning" by the jubilant travelling fans who have not forgotten his infamous departure announcement which preceded his dismissal last year.
Willie Peters is threatening to take Rovers to the next level with a more considered approach that has improved them on both sides of the ball.
Hull could not contain KR's ruck speed and became the latest team to fall victim to the boot of Jordan Abdull, a player the Black and Whites released not so long ago.
Ryan Hall was at his enduring best with a hat-trick but Rovers were outstanding to a man.
Hull must be wondering where they go next after succumbing to the rampant Robins in front of a home crowd that lost faith long before the final hooter.
Although they traded blows with their rivals in the opening exchanges, the writing was on the wall.
Rovers were playing at a different speed to the hosts and had an ace in their pocket in Abdull, a week on from terrorising Leeds Rhinos at a wet and windy Craven Park.
Rhinos full-back Luke Hooley, who had no answer to the Hull KR playmaker on his Super League debut, will be feeling better about himself after seeing Hull fail to deal with Abdull's kicking game in favourable conditions on Good Friday.
Whereas Abdull went high more often than not last week, it was a lofted kick to the corner that did the damage for the first try on eight minutes.
Shaun Kenny-Dowall – back from a four-game ban – and Kane Linnett combined to knock the ball back to Mikey Lewis who put Hall over with a smart improvised pass.
Tex Hoy's injury handed derby veteran Jamie Shaul his first opportunity of the season and he passed a series of early tests under the high ball.
But there was no let-up from Abdull, the half-back sending up a spiralling bomb that Shaul attempted to trap with his boot.
The ball bounced favourably to Tom Opacic who sold Darnell McIntosh a dummy to coast in under the posts.
When Lachlan Coote added a second conversion to make it 12-0 inside the opening quarter, there was a sense Hull would crumble.
The hosts were handed a let-off when Elliot Minchella had a try ruled out for a forward pass following a one-two with Sam Luckley and perhaps breathed a sigh of relief after Rovers went for goal from a penalty minutes later.
Kane Evans caught Matt Parcell with a high shot and Coote knocked over the two to put the Robins three scores ahead.
Hull got a good look at the KR line in the first half but never looked like scoring, even after James Batchelor was sent to the sin bin for a hip drop that injured Jake Clifford.
Every turnover was celebrated like a try by Rovers in front of a partisan away end.
The Robins were guilty of losing their discipline in the closing stages of the half but Hull never threatened to punish them.
Indeed, the closest they came to finding a way through was on the back of an inexplicable pass from Sam Wood to Coote on his own line.
Although the half-time scoreline suggested Hull were still in the game, the contest was as good as over.
Abdull was the architect of the killer third try, forcing Carlos Tuimavave into a mistake with another towering kick before sending Batchelor over with a neat pass in the next set.
When Coote finished off a scintillating break down the left after linking up with Hall, it was a case of how many for the Robins.
Hall helped himself to a second after Abdull and Lewis combined from a scrum play and Rovers kept going back for more.
The evergreen Hall was in his element, storming clear down the left again to send Lewis over.
There was brief respite for Hull when Lewis had a try ruled out for a forward pass but they were powerless to prevent the half-back from putting Hall over for his hat-trick to put the seal on a remarkable rout.
Hull FC: Shaul, Swift, Tuimavave, Sutcliffe, McIntosh, McNamara, Clifford, Fash, Dwyer, Satae, Griffin, Lane, Cator. Substitutes: Vulikijapani, Sao, Evans, Taylor.
Hull KR: Coote, Wood, Opacic, Kenny-Dowall, Hall, Abdull, Lewis, Kennedy, Parcell, King, Batchelor, Linnett, Minchella. Substitutes: Litten, Sue, Luckley, Hadley.
Referee: Jack Smith.