Hull 6, Hull KR 42: Cooke roasts Hull to secure Rovers' safety

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The Independent Online

Rovers guaranteed another year of Hull derbies by outplaying their neighbours in front of a capacity crowd at the KC Stadium and ensuring that Salford will drop into National League One.

Paul Cooke, a Hull hero until his controversial mid-season move across the city, and Luke Dyer, who was relegated last year with Castleford, played the starring roles, but this was essentially a victory for the team who wanted it more.

Dyer scored two of the first-half tries that put Rovers in command, but Cooke's all-round influence, with a hand or a foot in four scores, was crucial.

"He's a cool customer," said his coach, Justin Morgan. "He's been very good for us and I'm looking forward to putting some good players round him next season. This was a huge effort from the team and I'm very proud of them.

Cooke's high kick to Jason Netherton put the Robins ahead after 12 minutes and Hull mistakes kept them firmly in control after that, as when Matthew Head and Danny Tickle's breakdown in communication let Dyer pounce for his first.

Remarkably for a fixture carrying such local pride and passion, it was almost half-time before a penalty was awarded. Even then, Dyer got the ball back immediately from Hutch Maiava's misdirected pass and Rovers were 16 points up at the break.

Cooke's beautifully angled kick then set up Mark Lennon for the first try of the second half. Hull hinted briefly at a revival when Danny Washbrook scored from Richard Horne's pass, but Rovers' Rhys Lovegrove scored the first of his two tries from Cooke's pass and the outstanding James Webster contributed a wonderful solo effort.

After Stanley Gene had maintained the momentum by powering over, Cooke produced a trademark 30-yard cut-out pass for Lovegrove to score his second and underline his side's superiority on the day.

With players like the New Zealand wing Jake Webster to come into the side for next season there is plenty for Rovers' fans to look forward to. By contrast Hull, with their eyes on the top of the table and the play-offs rather than relegation, were a poor second best yesterday.

"They beat us to the punch in everything they did," said the Hull coach, Peter Sharp, of his cross-city rivals. "They ran out better than us, they warmed up better than us."

Although they have had some shaky times this season, Rovers have earned their right to continue in the top flight. Even the black-and-white majority in yesterday's 23,000 crowd will be looking forward to more meetings between the two clubs next year.

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