Sykes' decisive kick brings Hull down to earth

HULL 16

LONDON 17
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The Independent Online

The Broncos took advantage of an inevitable degree of emotional let-down to stick with Hull throughout a tense, absorbing game. As the teams seemed set for the second draw of the season, Sykes took his shot under pressure and just managed to hit the target.

It left the Hull coach, John Kear, deflated after the heroics of the previous weekend. "We need to learn to cope with success and make sure that our standards don't slip and, unfortunately, we've not done that this week," Kear said.

Much has changed in rugby league, not least the time of year when the Cup final is played, but one thing that remains constant is the fear that sides tend to be affected as the big day looms.

This was the first test of Hull's application to the job in hand and they started it well, taking an early 10-point lead. Ewan Dowes scored when the Broncos could not tidy up Richard Swain's kick and Paul Cooke sold a little dummy for their second try, also kicking the penalty but missing the two conversion attempts.

London have plenty to play for, with a place in the play-offs to be consolidated. They began their fightback when Luke Dorn kicked for the wing and Tyrone Smith leapt to catch cleanly and score. Sykes converted and brought his side level by half-time when he scored their second try. Danny Williams seemed to have taken the wrong option, passing to a well-guarded blind side, but Sykes showed great strength to force his way over.

Hull led again early in the second half when Cooke kicked, London fumbled and Shayne McMenemy got to the loose ball, but London came back when Dorn sidestepped past Paul King with embarrassing ease for the converted try that put them in front once more.

Both sides had tries disallowed by the video referee before Cooke's penalty tied it up, but the Broncos, who are to be rebranded as Harlequins next season, were not to be denied.

Retiring their old name and identity with pride is a major incentive for the cluband, in this mood, they are capable of doing so. "We feel a real responsibility to do that," said their coach, Tony Rea. "There have been some great players in the Broncos shirt and this group are aware that they are a part of that."

Hull: Briscoe; Tony, Whiting, Yeaman, Raynor; R Horne, Brough; Dowes, Swain, Carvell, McMenemy, G Horne, Cooke. Substitutes used: King, Kearney, Thackray, Saxton.

London: Luisi; Wells, Smith, Sykes, Bradley-Qalilawa; McLinden, Dorn; Stephenson, Highton, Trindall, Haumono, Hopkins, Mbu. Substitutes used: Purdham, Williams, Tookey, Mateo.

Referee: K Kirkpatrick (Warrington).

* The Great Britain squad member Chris Thorman gave a masterclass with a 20-point haul as Huddersfield maintained their faint play-off hopes with a 44-12 win over Wakefield yesterday. Leigh were relegated from Super League after their 74-0 home defeat by Leeds, for whom Ashley Gibson scored a hat-trick of tries and kicked five goals on his debut.

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