The Black and Whites had been 12-0 up and then 20-6 ahead approaching the final quarter yesterday but fell behind as Leeds hit back with three tries in 11 minutes. However, after Tom Briscoe’s second try put Rhinos 24-20 ahead, Leeds prop Nathan Peteru fumbled the ball from the restart allowing Hull the chance to immediately hit back.
Crucially, winger Ratu Naulago did score to level and Marc Sneyd held his nerve to curl in the winning touchline conversion.
It means Hull strengthened their hold on third spot ahead of the forthcoming semi-final against Warrington Wolves, while Leeds are firmly embroiled in the relegation battle. They remain 10th but now only points difference separates them from bottom club London Broncos, who beat leaders St Helens 32-12 yesterday.
The win ended 14 successive away defeats for Hull at Leeds dating back to 2007 and Radford admitted: “It’s been too long.
“We worked out it was 4,335 days and someone was even daft enough to do the minutes as well.
“We knew it would be a tough game because of the desperation Leeds would show.
“But the way the game swung with momentum from one side to the other, I thought it was a real good trial run for next week.
“I think that will be played in a similar manner and to come through it like we did is a credit to the players.
“Huddersfield put 50 on us before the final in 2017 and not allowing that to happen again is really pleasing. It was a real ding-dong battle, a really good game of rugby for the neutral.”
Prolific Sneyd passed 1,500 career points with his match-winning kick and Radford admitted: “He was as confident as ever.
“I thought kicking was really important today. They had a really good marksman from the NRL (Rhyse Martin).
“I think he was 88 per cent success rate over there last year but Sneyd has an uncanny knack of being able to get those pressure kicks. He doesn’t miss many.”
Sneyd, meanwhile, is confident of being fit to face Warrington – just two points in front of Hull now after losing 27-18 at Castleford Tigers yesterday – despite leaving Headingley nursing shoulder and back injuries.
Leeds interim head coach Richard Agar conceded his side only had themselves to blame.
He admitted: “It was frustrating. It was obviously very close, but the overriding message is we did enough things wrong in that game not to get the victory.”
On Peteru’s fumble, he added: “When you are playing one of the top teams in the comp’ and there’s 10 minutes left you have to deal with stuff like that.
“We will have a chat this week. He has been out for a while (first game back from a fractured cheekbone) but we have got to nail those plays.”
Match report: Page 5.