Kruise Leeming’s boot ends Hull FC top-six hopes and keeps Leeds Rhinos alive

THE QUESTION for Leeds Rhinos and Hull on Saturday evening was, how on earth do you follow that?

Kick-off of the final game on day one of Magic Weekend, at Newcastle’s St James’ Park, was delayed by half an hour after the preceding match overran.

That was a golden-point thriller which produced one of the most exciting finishes in the event’s history, Catalans Dragons eventually pipping St Helens – and sealing the league leaders’ shield – through a drop goal in the 88th minute.

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So the two Yorkshire rivals had much to live up to in a clash which would decide which of them was eliminated from the top-six race, but – incredibly – they managed to replicate that drama with an extra-time classic of their own. The game was Hull’s to lose when they powered into a 10-point lead early in the second half and lose it they did, as Leeds responded with two unanswered tries, created the better drop goal opportunities and, after missing three chances, finally nailed the winner through Kruise Leeming with a couple of minutes of extra-time remaining.

Leeds Rhinos' Kruise Leeming scores a drop goal tom win the game in extra time (Picture: Ed Sykes/SWpix.com)

That left Hull eighth in Super League with just two games remaining and, while the crowd drifted away thrilled and drained in equal measure, coach Brett Hodgson admitted it was a cruel way to see his men’s top-six aspirations effectively ended.

“When you lose in golden-point it always hurts more,” he reflected.

“I am super-proud of the effort, I just thought we lacked a bit of quality in that second half to be able to shut out the game.”

Hodgson conceded his men “had enough chances” to claim victory, but felt “some things in the game went against us”, though he preferred to focus on Hull’s performance rather than that of the match officials.

Leeds Rhinos' Kruise Leeming celebrates kicking the winning goal (Picture: John Clifton/SWPix.com)

Carlos Tuimavave scored one try, had another in the first half ruled out by video referee Ben Thaler, then a third touchdown was disallowed on the field.

Thaler decided Jake Connor had knocked on before Marc Sneyd’s kick reached the winger and later, when Hull led by 10 and were clearly on top, man in the middle Robert Hicks blew for offside without asking for a video check.

A try then may well have won it for Hull and Hodgson said: “Ultimately, at the end of 80 minutes, we had enough chances, but I don’t understand why that didn’t go up (to the video ref); just have a look at it, like they had a look at the other one and chalked that off. But I think in the second half we played too much one-out and tried to protect the lead, rather than continuing to play rugby. We will learn some pretty tough lessons.”

Leeds led 8-0 after as many minutes, through a try, conversion and penalty from Rhyse Martin, but Hull were quickly level as Danny Houghton crossed and Sneyd added two goals.

Kruise Leeming celebrates scoring an earlier try as they fought back from 10 points adrift (Picture: John Clifton/SWPix.com)

They went ahead when Tuimavave crossed for a six-point try and, following a converted response from Harry Newman, Sneyd landed penalties either side of half-time and added the extras to a touchdown by Connor.

That made it 24-14, but Leeming crossed and Martin tagged on the two before Jack Broadbent’s try levelled the scores with seven minutes of the 80 still to play.

Martin’s kick was off-target and both teams failed with attempted one-pointers before Leeming finally landed the winner.

Leeds remain fifth, with one foot in the play-offs and coach Richard Agar “could not have been prouder” of his side.

“I told the players after the game, if we hadn’t won I couldn’t have faulted their effort,” said the former Hull chief.

“The effort and determination was absolutely incredible.

“I felt we deserved to win, even though there wasn’t much in it.

“Pretty much every point of theirs came off kicks, which they are exceptionally good at.

“We probably needed to deal with a couple of them better, but we kept bouncing back off the ropes and our effort in the last 17-18 minutes and then subsequently into golden point was incredible.

“We shut them down on drop goal attempts and found the energy to play with the ball when we got it, too.”

Leeds Rhinos: Broadbent, L Briscoe, Newman, T Briscoe, Handley, Lui, Myler, Vuniyayawa, Leeming, Prior, Gannon, Martin, Thompson. Subs Dwyer, Donaldson, Holroyd, Smith.

Hull: Shaul, Faraimo, Tuimavave, Scott, Fonua, Connor, Sneyd, Sao, Houghton, Satae, Savelio, Ma’u, Johnstone. Subs Fash, Bowden, McNamara, Wynne.

Referee: R Hicks (Oldham).