IT SEEMS Hull FC thrive on doing things the hard way at Hull KR’s KCOM Craven Park.
It was on Good Friday two years ago when they recovered from 20-0 down after almost an hour’s play to somehow win a famous derby 22-20.
In this instance, Lee Radford’s side managed to secure another memorable success remarkably after being down to 12 men for almost the entire game.
Hull winger Bureta Faraimo was red-carded in the ninth minute for a late and high shoulder charge on Rovers’ half-back Chris Atkin.
The USA international, playing in his first such derby, could have no real complaints but it did not deter his team-mates who battled on regardless to leave their fierce rivals in real trouble with just two wins from their opening eight games.
Rarely in the 229 previous meetings between these sides has a player scored a hat-trick and still ended up on the losing side but that fate befell Hull KR centre Thomas Minns in front of a stadium record attendance of 12,090.
When news filtered through early in the morning that KR captain Shaun Lunt and their chief playmaker Danny McGuire had both failed fitness tests, Rovers fans must already have started to fear the worst.
Those feelings were only exacerbated when Danny Houghton - the Hull captain making his return after a calf injury suffered during their New South Wales tour - crossed inside three minutes for an early FC lead.
However, their mood should have changed markedly when Faraimo was dismissed. It did not as the spirited visitors, with Mark Minichiello, Mickey Paea and two-try Fetuli Talanoa in fine form, refused to be cowed and Rovers somehow fell to pieces.
Initially, they made the most of the extra man, Minns going over for the first of his treble within four minutes.
It was a lovely cut-out pass from Atkin – showing no ill-effects from that head shot – to send Minns clear from deep and then the centre exchanged passes with Justin Carney to exploit the extra space where Faraimo once was.
When Atkin broke from the restart, they were in more good position but they turned down the opportunity of two points and then Ben Kavanagh spilled.
Nevertheless, quickly so did Talanoa in his own 20, so they still had a shot, Adam Quinlan dummying over only for the video referee Phil Bentham to rule an obstruction.
‘It seemed harsh. But decisions often do when it comes to that ludicrous law.
Hull gained some respite courtesy of marc Sneyd’s fine 40/20 kick and sleight half-back Matty Marsh – in for McGuire – showed remarkable strength to drive Minichiello back just as the Australian forward seemed certain to charge over.
Another Kavanagh fumble, though, gifted the visitors more possession - KR needed to control the ball better against 12 men – and FC hit them with a quick one-two.
Both tries were softly conceded. First, Carlos Tuimavave was able to bump his way out of tackles and wriggle free to find Jamie Shaul who, in turn, was given acres of space by the to spin and find Talanoa who finished well in the 27th minute.
In the next set, Kiwi centre Tuimavave evaded Liam Salter to skip clear and Shaul supported his break for Sneyd’s third conversion to leave Radford’s side 18-6 ahead.
KR were fortunate to get the ball back after Quinlan juggled but spilled Ryan Shaw’s short restart. Kendall initially awarded a Hull scrum only for the video official to spot a charge off the ball by Danny Washbrook.
Minns eventually got his second from there, Quinlan’s fine long ball to Carney proving crucial, the Australian winger then finding the ex-Leeds Rhinos centre back on his inside.
Shaw converted and then thought he had secured back-to-back tries for the Robins after Quinlan – again – had put him into space down the right wing but, in the build-up, there was a forward pass from Tommy Lee.
To compound matters, Tim Sheens side’ conceded yet another awful try with just seconds of the half remaining.
Once more, it seemed their right-edge defence had gone off somewhere on an early Easter egg hunt as Shaul was able to slip Talanoa in for his second.
That said, Marsh came to life to create some space for Quinlan to furnish Shaw in the 46th minute, leaving his side only 22-16 behind.
Yet, remarkably, they self-imploded again; Sneyd was off-target with a penalty attempt 10 minutes later but from the resulting drop-out, replacement winger Jake Connor was somehow left in acres of room to surge onto Albert Kelly’s long pass and score.
Sneyd converted and then did add a penalty before Rovers seemed to realise they were running out of time and they needed to do something.
They won back a short restart and showed good handling for Minns to claim his hat-trick, Shaw’s conversion leaving them eight points behind with 13 minutes to go.
For all their hustle, though, they missed the calmness of McGuire and Lunt in the critical moments and Hull held on.
Both sides had waited 625 days to resume hostilities after KR’s season in the Championship and it was certainly worth the wait for Radford’s side who now head into Easter Monday’s home game with Wakefield Trinity on the back of two wins, KR heading to Wigan.
Hull KR: Quinlan; Shaw, Salter, Minns, Carney; Marsh, Atkin; Jewitt, Lee, Masoe, Greenwood, Blair, Kavanagh. Substitutes: Scruton, Donaldson, Clarkson, Dagger.
Hull FC: Shaul; Faraimo, Griffin, Tuimavave, Talanoa; Kelly, Sneyd; Taylor, Houghton, Paea, Lane, Minichiello, Green. Substitutes: Bowden, Matongo, Connor, Washbrook.
Referee: Chris Kendall (Huddersfield).