MARC SNEYD had an off night with his boot yet still managed to get it right when it mattered most to help Hull FC record a memorable win over Leeds Rhinos.
The mercurial scrum-half is renowned for his goalkicking, but managed just one from four attempts as Lee Radford’s side – 14-0 ahead early in the second half – almost came unstuck again versus the Super League champions.
However, despite Leeds taking an 18-14 lead, Hull rallied to claim a dramatic Yorkshire derby victory. After Carlos Tuimavave had levelled with a 71st-minute try, Sneyd missed the conversion attempt, but then held his nerve to slot the match-winning drop-goal four minutes later.
It is the first time since 2014 that Hull – with two-try Jake Connor, Albert Kelly and Scott Taylor superb – have beaten Leeds at the KCOM Stadium and they go above them into fourth.
For Rhinos, it was the second time in a week they had lost out to a late drop-goal after Sam Tomkins helped Wigan Warriors to a 9-8 win last Friday.
Just like then, they had a chance to level, but Hull’s tireless defence hustled Richie Myler so he never got his drop-goal away.
Leeds,with Jamie Jones-Buchanan making his 400th club appearance, looked to have turned the game on its head with three tries in a blistering 11-minute spell culminating with a controversial penalty try.
England winger Ryan Hall started the fightback with a fine one-handed finished in the 51st minute before Joel Moon got their second on the hour. That came after Richie Myler, who became increasingly influential at scrum-half, performed a slick runaround with Brett Ferres to suck in defenders and allow Moon the space to arc in.
Crucially, Leeds carried on the momentum in the next set, Myler attacking wide right on halfway to unleash Kallum Watkins and, though the captain opted against finding unmarked winger Tom Briscoe, they were not denied.
Myler dinked in a grubber that caused panic behind Hull’s goaline, Josh Bowden missing when trying to kick and allowing Matt Parcell to pick up.
However, Parcell fumbled over the line only for video referee Phil Bentham to rule he did so due to Bowden’s attempted trip.
A penalty try was awarded and Watkins put Leeds 18-14 ahead, but questions remained; Hull had been placed on a team warning shortly before so the visitors presumed Bowden would be yellow-carded. He was not and Hull eventually got home.
Radford’s side had started with real intent and purpose and never let up in the first period.
They did not dominate Leeds at any point – far from it – but they looked assured in all they did.
There was some terrific defensive efforts on show and the visitors only really broke them once when Kallum Watkins sent Tom Briscoe clear, but that situation was soon contained.
Mickey Paea and Danny Houghton also denied Ash Handley. It was telling that when Leeds did finally cross it came via a blatantly forward pass from Myler to Brett Ferres that was instantly ruled out; perhaps that was a sign they were running out of ideas.
Hull offered plenty of threat with Kelly buzzing around, Jamie Shaul his usual pacey self out of dummy-half and Connor keeping defenders honest.
Crucially, Radford was able to welcome back his first-choice back-row of Mark Minichiello, Sika Manu and Dean Hadley and they made an obvious difference in improving their shape.
Furthermore, FC were able to force countless problems with their kicks, Briscoe, Ashton Golding – who looked particularly shaky in that area – and Handley all spilling to leave McDermott’s side under pressure. Hull’s first try, though, was route one, Connor hitting Kelly’s short pass and bursting over the top of Moon in the 13th minute. The centre threatened to overhead pass to Bureta Faraimo before realising he had enough momentum to get to the line himself.
Sneyd could not convert nor when his side added their second try 20 minutes later. It was Watkins, this time, who lost possession for Leeds under a heavy hit from Minichiello and Sneyd. Handley then dropped a kick and, eventually, Kelly teased their defence once more before finding Faraimo arrowing back infield on a great angle.
Briscoe was twice hauled into touch when dealing with kicks near his own line at the start of the second period, first by Tuimavave and then Fetuli Talanoa.
From the second effort Connor scored his second try of the night, but it was, in large part, down to the class again of Kelly.
The stand-off looked to be slowing down in possession, but suddenly quickened up to fire a lovely cut-out pass that left Ash Handley in no-man’s land.
Connor – surely an England international in the making – does not need a second invite to get on the outside of his man and he duly cruised over.
Sneyd converted for 14-0, but there was so much more to come.
Hull FC: Shaul; Faraimo, Connor, Griffin, Talanoa; Kelly, Sneyd; Taylor, Houghton, Bowden, Manu, Minichiello, Hadley. Substitutes: Tuimavave, Paea, Lane, Matongo.
Leeds Rhinos: Golding; Briscoe, Watkins, Handley, Hall; Moon, Myler; Cuthbertson, Parcell, Delaney; Jones-Buchanan, Ward, Ablett. Substitutes: Mullally, Ferres, Smith, Oledzki.
Referee: Ben Thaler (Wakefield).