ONE of the new breed and one from the older generation combined to finally breathe life into the season of ailing champions Leeds Rhinos.
Jordan Lilley, the 19-year-old scrum-half pressed into action this year chiefly due to Danny McGuire’s injury woe, picked the perfect time to score a first try for his hometown club.
However, it then needed Jamie Jones-Buchanan, the six-times Grand Final winner, to edge Leeds home and deliver a first win in five games during a tense and thrilling Yorkshire derby last night.
Lilley maintained his 100 per cent record with the boot to convert the 73rd minute effort and that proved crucial as Hull – seeking a sixth successive win – hit back in the closing stages via Danny Houghton’s try to lose out by just two points.
It was a coming of age for Lilley, the teenager who gave his most assured display yet and received a broken nose for his efforts when collecting his ricocheted grubber to shrug off Houghton and Sika Manu for that 61st minute score.
A ninth defeat of the year would have signified Rhinos’ worst ever start to a Super League season but, amid the driving rain on a murky night at Headingley, they avoided that ignominy and fully deserved it. They move up to tenth,
Hull lacked their usual spark but that was perhaps unsurprising given Jamie Shaul, their effervescent full-back, was missing due to illness.
Leeds had the better of the first-half exchanges without gaining the advantage their efforts perhaps deserved.
Running with more purpose than in previous weeks and certainly with greater enterprise, they seemed to have some confidence about their play.
It was no surprise when they scored first. Steve Michaels had produced a thundering tackle to force a spill from Jimmy Keinhorst earlier but the Hull winger got it wrong next time around, misreading the play as Zak Hardaker’s cut-out pass found Keinhorst reaching the corner in the 17th minute,
Lilley converted from the touchline and his side looked buoyant almost.
That said, careless errors remained; Hardaker immediately fumbled in the restart set when trying to play the ball.
He would spill again, this time having forged deep into Hull’s 20, under little pressure while Brett Delaney conceded a maddening penalty on the last tackle having completed an otherwise perfect tackle on Houghton.
It was from that penalty that Marc Sneyd’s smart grubber forced Leeds into conceding a goalline drop-out which the visitors duly converted into six pont in the 31st minute.
Chris Green was the benefactor, surging onto fellow prop Scott Taylor’s short ball to go over between the posts, leaving Delaney being dragged along the ground from 10m out.
It was the sort of try Leeds rarely used to concede and Sneyd converted.
Hull were in again on 42 minutes. The latest Pritchard surge, a storming 40m diagonal, nearly saw the big Kiwi over, although he was allowed to escape after Anthony Mullally’s appalling tackle attempt.
Ash Handley did finally haul in the hulking second-row, nicknamed Frank The Tank for a reason, just feet from the line.
However, at the next play, Sneyd’s latest well-placed kick set-up Kirk Yeaman to score.
There was huge debate about whether the centre, revitalised since being left out of Radford’s squad earlier this season, was offside or not but not enough doubt for video referee Robert Hicks to overturn Joe Cobb’s onfield ‘try’ decision.
Sneyd tagged on the extras but his side were fortunate to still be in front and also with 12 men in the 53rd minute.
Handley made a 70m dart down the touchline direct from a kick return and, although Jordan Thompson denied the winger, Rob Burrow darted infield at the next play.
Liam Watts, the Hull prop, was caught flat-footed and delivered a high tackle almost in front of the posts.
He should have received a yellow card at least but conceded just a penalty and Leeds wasted that. Hardaker was called upon to produce a try-saving tackle on Taylor as the former Hull KR prop marauded close and that proved crucial.
Soon after, the hosts did get their own breakthrough via Lilley and the scene was set.
Leeds Rhinos: Hardaker; Golding, Watkins, Keinhorst, Handley; Sutcliffe, Lilley; Galloway, Burrow, Garbutt, Ablett, Achurch, Jones-Buchanan. Substitutes: Mullally, Singleton, Falloon, Delaney.
Hull FC: Naughton; Michaels, Fonua, Yeaman, Talanoa; Washbrook, Sneyd; Taylor, Houghton, Watts, Pritchard, Manu, Bowden. Substitutes: Palea’aesina, Green, Thompson, Hadley.
Referee: J Cobb (Manchester).