Final breakthrough as Sharp ignites fires of Hull

'This team haven't got stars, but they work very hard'
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The Independent Online

Hull may supposedly be the worst place in Britain to live, but it is currently the best place to watch and play rugby league. While Hull Kingston Rovers prepare for today's promotion decider against Widnes, neighbouring Hull FC celebrate reaching their first Super League Grand Final.

Hull's coach, Peter Sharp, took time out from basking in the glory of his side's impressive 19-12 win over last year's champions, Bradford, on Friday night to send a good-luck message to his rivals from the east side of the city ahead of today's National League One Grand Final at Warrington.

"It would be great for the town from lots of angles, wouldn't it?" he said. "It just reinforces what a marvellous rugby league town it is. They really support their team and it's a great reward for the fans. There is a lot of passion here and a lot of kids playing the game. They're magnificent."

Sharp must take much of the credit for Hull's achievement in becoming only the fifth team in 11 years of Super League to play in a Grand Final. He has added a touch of defensive steel to turn the nearly men into title challengers, and they will take on St Helens at Old Trafford next Saturday high on confidence.

Sharp, who quit his job as assistant coach at Parramatta to succeed John Kear in May, declined to set any targets on his arrival, but he has experienced just four defeats in 20 matches in guiding Hull to the brink of their first championship since 1983. "I didn't know what to think when I arrived here," he said.

"I knew there were some good players here and I knew Richard Swain quite well from back home. They've worked very hard to a man since the day I got here and I'm very happy for them. This team probably haven't got the stars that other teams have got, but they work very hard for each other."

One of the side's genuine stars, scrum-half Richard Horne, overcame an injury scare in the warm-up in which he damaged his Achilles tendon to score the game's first try after just 46 seconds and create the second for Motu Tony with a pinpoint kick to the wing. Bradford staged a second-half rally to keep alive their hopes of a sixth successive Grand Final appearance, but Kirk Yeaman's 23rd try of the season on 56 minutes sealed the game.

The Bradford coach, Steve McNamara, a former Hull captain who still lives in the city, believes his old club can go on to topple hot favourites St Helens. "They have certainly given St Helens a shake in the last two games, so they won't go into the game lacking in confidence."