The opening signs of the game were that it was not going to be a very pretty affair, and an out and out knock-on-a-thon. The rain took its cue from the referee’s starting whistle, and began to stream down as the players kicked off the game.
Both sides began to spill the ball after a promising couple of opening sets, and, from the back of Hull’s first knock on (immediately subsequent to a Leeds’ knock on) Joel Moon scored the opener.
The Hull mistake gave the Rhinos good field position, and the centre took it upon himself to put a kick up from dummy half. Then, chasing his own kick, he rose above Jordan Rankin to score in the corner. The video referees were called upon to decide whether there was any double movement, but it was clear that there wasn’t. Sinfield converted, and Leeds led 0-6 after six minutes.
It was at this point that the game became something of a farce, with both sides coughing up the ball and trying to force the play where it was unnecessary.
As must be the case in these scenarios, Leeds had the better of the action, with help from a few refereeing decisions which the Hull fans felt were unfairly against them. A penalty on 18 minutes for offside let Leeds take a chance at goal, which Sinfield converted from 45m. 0-8.
Hull had field position at times, but the errors that they were conceding at their end of the pitch were not absent near the Leeds line.
The conditions telling, Leeds opted for 2 more points on 33 minutes – Kirk Yeaman having been deemed to have obstructed a kick-chaser – but, from wide out, the conversion was missed, and Hull broke with Rankin; an attack which, like all others thus far, came to nothing.
Another penalty against Hull on 38 minutes gave Leeds another attempt at goal from a similar position. Sinfield made no mistake this time.
The score at the break was 0-10 to Leeds.
The second half was a more contestable game, with Hull finding some security with the ball and, consequently, much more field position.
But all that wasn’t immediate, and Leeds hit first in the 2nd half on 42 minutes. A Hull knock on (if you’d believe it) started Leeds’ attack on their 25m, and a good set was finished by a wonderful inside drop off from Sinfield to Watkins, who did enough to cruise through the gap, keeping Ellis at bay, and score just to the right of the posts. Sinfield converted again 0-16.
Penalties were as much a problem for Hull as knock ons, and Sinfield had another attempt at goal on 45 minutes. Albeit, there was little angle to worry the Leeds skipper, but the distance was too much, and the attempt rebounded off the crossbar.
Hull had a good spell of pressure, and were on Leeds’ line for a decent period, but never could capitalise. With both teams missing their star halfbacks after an incident last week – Sneyd for Hull and McGuire for Leeds – it was clear that the Rhinos were able to adapt better as Hull showed no structure in attack in Leeds’ danger zone.
The removal of all doubts for a Leeds win came on 70 minutes. After a goal line drop out, the Rhinos set up well and a great break from Keinhorst offloaded to Burrow, who found Sinfield, who, in turn, found the try scorer Hardaker with the try of the night. The conversion followed and Leeds led 0-22 with 8 minutes remaining.
There was no chance that Hull would score the four converted tries necessary to take the lead, but that didn’t stop the Rhinos from opting for another two points after a penalty. The distance being just as long as the previous, Sinfield made no errors this time, and the score was 0-24.
The consolation try for the black and whites came on 75 minutes. The young halfback Abdull did well to break the line and crash over Hardaker to score. Rankin fired over the conversion quickly, but the minutes were beating them as much as the conditions had done for the previous 75 minutes.
The score line stayed at that, and Leeds’ defence of their Challenge Cup continues. For Hull, the focus is now on avoiding a fallout from the playoffs, and they have a short turn around, playing bottom of the league Wakefield on Wednesday.
Hull FC: Rankin, Lineham, Talanoa, Yeaman, Michaels, Pryce, Abdull, Paea, Houghton, Watts, Ellis (C), Minichiello, Westerman (subs) Paleaaesina, Thompson, Whiting, Bowden
Leeds Rhinos: Hardaker, Handley, Watkins, Moon, Hall, Sinfield (C), Burrow, Leuluai, Aiton, Peacock, Keinhorst, S. Ward, Ablett (subs) Delaney, Singleton, Yates, R. Ward
Tries: Moon, Watkins, Hardaker
Goals: Sinfield (6)