Hull FC 23 Hull KR 22: Marc Sneyd seals thrilling derby

FANS had been forced to wait 18 months to watch a derby live but Hull FC and Hull KR truly delivered as they produced a thrilling contest at MKN Stadium today.

As is so often the case, Marc Sneyd’s late drop goal eventually proved the difference as Hull edged home and ended a four-game losing run to keep alive their slim hopes of a play-offs spot.

However, in-form Rovers - with rangy stand-off Rowan Milnes in superb form - fully played their part in this absorbing contest and they almost sent the 238st derby meeting into Golden Point extra-time at the death.

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After Hull’s Carlos Tuimavave had a try ruled out with 52 seconds remaining, Rovers - who had already badly failed to get set for one attempt - got an unexpected second chance.

This time former Bradford Bulls half-back Milnes did get his shot away from 40m but it was brilliantly charged down by the tireless Hull loose forward Jordan Lane.

Hull, who had lost Josh Reynolds and Joe Cator to second half injuries, were well-served by winger Bureta Faraimo, who scored two tries, while the excellent Jake Connor produced three assists on his return from injury, including a fine cut-out pass for Adam Swift’s third minute opener.

There was also the welcome sight of Jamie Shaul returning after 10 months out with the ACL, the full-back making a surprise but impressive cameo at hooker including one timely big tackle on Will Maher.

The hosts led 16-10 at the break but only after scoring back-to-back tries just before the interval and having been camped on their own line for one long sustained period.

Hull FC's Bureta Faraimo scores against Hull KR (JON CLIFTON/SWPIX)

That Rovers did not fully capitalise at that point - they had five successive sets before Jimmy Keinhorst finally cancelled out Adam Swift’s opener - was always likely to be costly.

Danny Houghton produced a crucial try-saving tackle on Brad Takairangi and Matty Storton was also held up over the line as Hull prevented further damage.

Milnes, whose excellent kicking game had forced three consecutive drop-outs, then ironically missed from in front with an ill-conceived drop goal attempt.

After all that pressure, Hull broke clear upfield with Connor’s cut-out pass unleashing Faraimo whose infield pass was picked up by Tuimavave.

Hull KR's Ben Crooks take on Hull. (JON CLIFTON/SWPIX)

Liam Moore awarded a try but it was chalked off by video referee Ben Thaler who ruled Shaun Kenny-Dowall was blocked from making a tackle by Reynolds.

It was perhaps harsh on Hull - Reynolds had his back to the Rovers captain and did not alter his line of run - but the visitors made the most of that let-off.

When Reynolds was penalised for a shoulder charge on Ben Crooks shortly afterwards, they advanced downfield where Korbin Sims punched a hole and then found a late offload for Milnes.

The stand-off assessed his options and spotted space behind, dinking in a grubber before winning the race to the ball for a fine try in the 31st minute.

Crooks slotted the conversion but Hull always looked dangerous on the rare occasions they got close to KR’s end.

That proved true with the clinical double blast.

Houghton was held up over the goalline but a lofted chip from Sneyd - back after missing the loss in Perpignan with Covid - was brilliantly flicked on by Connor for Tuiamavae to usher over Faraimo in the 35th minute.

Crooks sailed the restart dead and, from there, Reynolds’ excellent pass gave Tuiamavave some space himself.

Ryan Hall rushed in from his flank but did not make a tackle, leaving more space for the Kiwi to exploit and glide over.

Sneyd improved both to leave Hull - who had also seen a Cameron Scott effort chalked off - in charge.

However, Crooks quickly atoned for his error at the start of the second period.

Another astute Milnes kick saw Faraimo pushed back behind his own goalline to concede another drop-out and the stand-off picked his pass perfectly in midfield to send Crooks through with a silky finish from 20m out.

Crooks levelled but - after Sims limped off - Sneyd and Reynolds combined for Connor, inevitably, to slip in the final pass for Faraimo to get his second in the 50th minute.

Sneyd could not improve but - after Crooks caught him high - he did add a penalty as Hull, with second-row Manu Ma’u increasingly involved, started to gain some ascendancy.

Still, Sneyd was called upon to make a try-saving tackle on Greg Minikin before he stepped up for his usual duties - a drop goal to give his side some breathing space.

Hull needed it, too, as just moments after his one-pointer, Matt Parcell stripped possession from Scott Taylor to gain position to send Albert Vete crashing over in the 75th minute.

Crooks’ quickly-taken conversion saw them behind by a solitary point once more but Hull were left hanging on when Milnes’ brilliant chip and regather on the last tackle had them desperately scrambling before Takairangi agonisingly fumbled.

Milnes did get that shot eventually but it was not enough for Tony Smith’s side.

Beforehand, there was a minute’s applause for Cyril Sykes, who made almost 300 appearances for Hull and sadly passed away earlier this week at the age of 87.

His former team-mate, the legendary Johnny Whiteley, brought the match ball onto the field. He will have loved what unfolded next.

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)