Video - Hull FC 28 Hull KR 16: Derby day triumph sees Hull FC adopt Super League's leading role
SO, Hull FC are now top of Super League and, quite fittingly, by virtue of victory in the derby,
Not joint-level, not because of a superior points difference, simply in pole position, out on their own.
There are still eight games to go before the competition breaks up for its Super 8 phase but you could quite conceivably envisage Lee Radford’s side still being there at that point, too.
This was a 10th win in 11 games and one of those they eked out despite being far from their best, always a good sign for any side hopeful of winning silverware.
Centre Mahe Fonua scored two tries but it was Jamie Shaul, the local lad who has thrilled from full-back, who produced the defining moment, streaking away for his 12th try of the year in the 61st minute.
Marc Sneyd added the conversion after Kirk Yeaman had made the break down the left and it left the Airlie Birds 22-16 ahead.
For all Rovers had talisman Terry Campese back from injury, you could not really see them responding.
Radford said: “It means a lot to Shaulsy. He lives on the east side like myself so gets the same stick from their supporters as me – at the post office, the petrol station, the Asda – whenever we get beat.
“But he’s a black and white and has been a black and white supporter since he was a kid.
“He plays with passion when he plays that red and white side. I’m really pleased for him. And he can go to Asda now without copping that stick.
“I was really pleased with the win. We were probably not as slick as weeks gone by but credit to KR for that; they made it really stop-start with the push and the shove, players staying down …
“That probably took any fluency out of the game. But we got it together in the second half and found a way to win.”
With fellow joint-leaders Warrington Wolves and Catalans Dragons both losing over the weekend, to Castleford and Wakefield respectively, it means Hull go two points clear at the summit ahead of Saturday’s visit from St Helens.
They led just 10-8 at half-time and will wonder why it was not by a far greater margin.
Rovers were lethargic and sloppy and also down to 12 men for 10 minutes when Shaun Lunt was yellow-carded for a dangerous tackle, dumping Liam Watts.
Nevertheless, for all FC scored directly after that decision, some slick hands seeing Curtis Naughton slide in at right corner in the 20th minute for a 10-0 lead, they failed to push on.
Radford’s side did not add to their score and, instead, it was Rovers who emerged from their inertia to strike.
Lunt had only been back on the field moments – he had only been on it moments before his card, too – when the hooker dummied and stretched over.
He had no right to score and the Hull goalline defence, Frank Pritchard in particular, will have been disappointed he did.
Campese slotted the conversion and when the Australian was shoulder-charged by Danny Washbrook seconds before the break he kicked the penalty.
Hull’s second period started poorly, as well, Sneyd dropping Campese’s kick-off and when Pritchard was penalised for giving Adam Walker a ‘facial’ on the ground, Campese leveled at 10-10.
Soon after, Albert Kelly’s smart short pass saw Graeme Horne surge through a gap as they took the lead for the first time, Campese improving.
At that point, Rovers sensed another famous Magic win over their rivals but they failed to contend with Fonua, the hulking former Melbourne Storm centre, who had also scored in the Good Friday meeting between the sides.
He had already crossed after just six minutes in Newcastle, leaping above Campese to claim Sneyd’s kick, and then proved too strong as he powered on to Gareth Ellis’s short pass to bustle his way over in the 57th minute.
Sneyd’s kick leveled the contest again before Carlos Tuimavave, the Kiwi playing his first game in six weeks and on for Leon Pryce, unleashed Yeaman for Shaul’s crucial score.
Tuimavave was on hand, too, to slip Mark Minichiello through in the 68th minute, the hard-running Australian swatting aside defenders after Campese had been harshly judged to have infringed Shaul.
“He’s a worrier is Carlos but if I had that much talent I wouldn’t have a worry in the world,” offered Radford.
“And Mahe’s going to be a fans’ favourites if he carries on playing like that against KR; he’s a significant handful, a natural footballer and carries that ball like it’s a tennis ball.”
Meanwhile, a total of 28,945 fans watched Sunday’s action at St James’ Park, taking the total weekend attendance to 68,276 - an all-time Magic Weekend record on its 10th anniversary, surpassing the previous best of 67,788 set at the same venue last year.
Hull FC: Shaul; Naughton, Fonua, Yeaman, Talanoa; Pryce, Sneyd; Taylor, Houghton, Watts, Minichiello, Manu, Ellis. Substitutes: Tuimavave, Washbrook, Pritchard, Bowden.
Hull KR: Marsh; Sio, Horne, Thornley, Minns; Campese, Kelly; Tilse, Lawler, Allgood, Blair, Greenwood, Clarkson. Substitutes: Walker, Lunt, Donaldson, Clarkson.
Referee: Richard Silverwood (Mirfield)