Kear succeeds in stoking Hull fires

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The Independent Online

Hull's coach, John Kear, praised his side for countering the emotion of the occasion as they crashed Castleford's engage Super League homecoming party last night.

The majority of a 10,188 crowd went home unhappy as Hull raised the curtain of Super League XI with a polished 42-18 win - their first opening day victory since winning at Wakefield in 2003.

"I am very pleased with my players," said Kear, an ex-Castleford player and assistant coach. "We spoke in our preparation about the emotion of the event and we knew full well that the kitchen sink would come out in the first 20 minutes. My players played with very cool heads and played some clever rugby."

After leading Hull to Challenge Cup glory last season, Kear claims that his side are on a mission in the Super League this season, and says he is taking great heart from their promising start, boosted by two tries from Kirk Yeaman and a debut score from Sid Domic.

He said: "You obviously want to perform well but you want to get off to a good start as well. We wanted to start strong and stay strong and in the main we did that, although I was not too happy with the two late tries they scored down our right-hand side. In the main, I was really pleased and I thought we looked a really efficient unit."

Although late scores from Richard Fa'aoso and Ryan McGoldrick, combined with an earlier pair of tries from from Gray Viane, gave the scoreline a semblance of respectability, the Tigers coach, Terry Matterson, admitted his team were beaten by the better side on the night.

"I was not disappointed with the effort," he said. "We were just pretty poor with the ball and that contributed to the way we defended and the amount of defending that we had to do.

"We made some poor decisions with the ball and we made some poor errors and you just can't do that against a quality team like Hull. We gave them a lot of possession and they scored some soft tries out wide as a result of that. I have got no excuses because the better team won on the night. I have got no dramas there."

After joining the Tigers from Canberra in the winter, Matterson's tough Super League baptism continues next week when he takes his side to the title favourites St Helens, where he is set to be without forward Matt Whitaker, who suffered suspected ankle ligament damage in the early stages of the game.

Sunday Best: Bulls wary of the surprise Wildcats strike

The world champion Bradford Bulls will need no reminder about what a stumbling block the Wakefield Trinity Wildcats can be when they begin the defence of their Super League title today.

Wakefield did the double over Bradford last season and, with new additions like Ned Catic and Monty Betham to beef up their pack, they will fancy themselves to create another upset.

The Bulls will have Paul Deacon back for his first game since his face was re-arranged in the Tri-Nations, but the newly-signed second-rower, Chris McKenna, is still out with a hamstring strain.

Bradford are on a high after their World Club Challenge victory over Wests Tigers last weekend, but their coach, Brian Noble, is well aware of the potential to come crashing down to earth in their first domestic fixture. "We need to make sure there is no element of complacency about us," he said. "We have talked about keeping our feet on the ground after last week's performance. They are a bogey side for us and I think they have strengthened well. Whoever plays will need to be smart and work hard or we could be looking at last season's scenario."

Leeds were the Bulls' main rivals last year and they have the former Bradford captain, Jamie Peacock, making his competitive debut for them today, in opposition to another Odsal legend, Robbie Paul, making his first appearance for Huddersfield. The Rhinos' captain, Kevin Sinfield, is in no doubt about the significance of capturing Peacock. "It's the biggest signing in Super League this year and probably the biggest in Leeds' history - certainly since Ellery Hanley came here," he said.

Huddersfield hope that Paul can have a similar effect on them. Already he says "I feel like I've recaptured my youth," and that he relishes playing under the captaincy of his young half-back partner, Chris Thorman.

At Warrington, the Salford coach, Karl Harrison, is without Luke Robinson and Stephen Myler. Andrew Dunemann is in line to make his debut. Warrington have a fully-fit squad starting a season full of expectation. Four new signings - Stuart Reardon, Michael Sullivan, Paul Rauhihi and Rob Parker - are likely to make their debuts.

Dave Hadfield