Hull Kingston Rovers finished their Super League season in proud fashion yesterday, deciding the pecking order on Humberside decisively in their favour following this victory. Not only did the Robins finish six points and four league places above their rivals from across the city, they also beat them for a third time this year – and in the most resounding manner.
"We were pretty focussed and dominated for most of the game," said their coach, Justin Morgan. "We've made progress and there will be progress again next year."
Hull have had their moments this year, notably on their way to last weekend's Challenge Cup final, but it was obvious long before the first mocking choruses of "Old Faithful, you'll never win at Wembley" that this was going to be a very flat finale from them.
"We've been too ready to hide behind excuses," said an angry Richard Agar afterwards. "We're going to have to take a long, hard look at our squad. Some blokes probably had their last chance today."
It all started to go wrong for Hull as early as the eighth minute with a try scored by Jon Steel but created by Jake Webster's clever back-handed pass. Rovers were close to scoring again three times, but had to be content with a Michael Dobson penalty until Makali Aizue bulldozed his way over for his first try of the season.
Dobson was clearly winning his personal battle with the former Rovers captain, James Webster, who was making his Hull debut, and it was his kick that created the third try, touched down by Ben Cockayne, with Peter Fox also diving for the ball. The wonder of it was that Rovers were not completely out of sight, but they were hauled back by Kirk Yeaman, just as he did at Wembley, scoring two tries on either side of half-time. Any thought of a fight-back was obliterated by the home side's strong finish, however.
The former Hull player Paul Cooke's long pass was helped on cleverly by Kris Welham for Fox to score. Michael Vella got over from short range and the hugely popular Stanley Gene, who like his fellow Papua New Guinean, Aizue, is staying on for another season, rounded it off from Cooke's kick.
Improving from 11th place to one outside the play-offs left Morgan feeling "satisfied," he said. Further improvement next season will see them emerge as real contenders.
As for Hull: "I can't find the right adjective," said Agar. After all the credit they earned at Wembley, this was a dismal way to end their campaign.
It was also a sorry way for Matt Sing to end a distinguished career. As Agar hinted none too subtly, he might not be the only man on his way out this winter.
Hull KR: Briscoe; Steel, Jake Webster, Welham, Fox; Galea, Dobson; Mills, Fisher, Netherton, Gene, Vella, Cooke. Substitutes used: Crossman, Aizue, Cockayne, Watts.
Hull: Hall; Sing, Horne, Yeaman, Raynor; Washbrook, James Webster; Dowes, Berrigan, Cusack, Manu, Tickle, Radford. Substitutes used: Houghton, Lee, Thackray, Burnett.
Referee: P. Bentham (Warrington).
l A vibrant Harlequins beat Catalan Dragons 34-24 at The Stoop last night thanks to a Chad Randall hat-trick, as well as tries from Rob Purdham, Will Sharp and the departing Julien Rinaldi. Quins led 22-8 at the break but Dimitri Pelo went over twice in the second half as the Dragons rallied to set-up a tense finish at 28-24 but Randall completed his hat-trick in the final seconds.