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After a long hard winter, the waiting is finally over as we embark upon the 2024 Super League season which will culminate in a little under eight months with the Grand Final at Old Trafford when after one hundred and sixty-six games the top two sides in the league will fight it out for the ultimate prize.

First up was the Hull derby with the Black and Whites of FC playing hosts to their nearest neighbours the Red and White of KR with local pride up for grabs as both sides look to get their season off to the perfect start with a two pointer against their fiercest of rivals.

After a more successful season in 2023 it was the Robins who were the favourites with the bookies as they were handicapped by six points on the coupon, Willie Peters side expected to take the points against the side built by their former coach Tony Smith.

Liam Sutcliffe withdrew from the FC line-up after the warmup due to feeling unwell and was replaced by Davy Litten in the starting thirteen.

Five minutes into the encounter Niall Evalds took an outside ball from Tom Opacic, stepped off his right foot and came inside and dropped over the line with a tackler attached for the opening try of 2024. Peta Hiku was well wide with his touchline conversion attempt.

Herman Ese’ese was sinbinned for ten minutes on twelve after contact with the head of an opponent, the evening was not going to plan for the home side who had lost Joe Cator early on with an injury.

On seventeen the Robins made the man advantage count when KR debutant Kelepi Tanginoa walked through the weakest FC defence to dive over. Hiku was wide of the target again, KR with an eight-point lead.

A moment of brilliance from Mikey Lewis, stepping off both feet to go in for a try from ten metres out to wrongfoot Jack Walker and spin over the line to give KR a 12-0 lead after thirty-seven minutes. This time Hiku hit the target to send his side into a 14-0 lead.

Inside the last thirty seconds of the half there was a mass brawl after a ‘robust’ tackle from Franklin Pele who threw a punch at the man on the ground after initially putting in a fair tackle. Referee Moore brandished the red card, the task looking increasingly difficult for the home side.

A mistake from Rovers, Hiku spilling a kick ten from his own line on forty-nine, but on the first play the Black and Whites spilled the ball themselves and squandered a try scoring opportunity.

On fifty-seven, Lewis Martin prevented a fourth KR try when he hacked the ball dead in goal out of the grasp of the chasing Robins players but after a short goal line drop out went back into the hands of the visitors and after a set restart, Matt Parcell took a short pass a metre from the line and barged his way over. Hiku was again wide with his kick, only one from four on a poor night with the boot.

Hiku made a total hash of an easy twenty metre penalty on seventy minutes, a nightmare evening for the New Zealand international which might leave Willie Peters auditioning alternatives during the coming week.

Matt Parcell was sin-binned on seventy-three for giving Ligi Sao a facial massage. Sao then red-carded for the retaliation, lashing out with his knee to the head of Parcell with Hull FC down to eleven men for the remaining few minutes.

Inside the last thirty seconds the Robins completed their scoring as Evalds found space on a massive overlap to slide over in the corner. James Batchelor took over the kicking duties but almost hit the corner flag with his attempt, KR nilling the Airlie Birds and recording a 22-0 win.

Whilst this was a workmanlike performance, if a little clumsy at times, from Hull KR it was an awful night at the office for their Black and White neighbours who lost several players to injury and possibly another couple likely to feel the wrath of the disciplinary committee early next week. First blood for the Robins who will be pleased to have navigated the opening fixture of the season and take the two points to get their season off to the best possible start. Few FC supporters will be relishing their 2024 season which started with low expectations.

Hull FC: Walker, Martin, Litten, Scott, McIntosh, Smith, Brown, Ese’ese (SB on 12), Houghton, Pele (SO on 39), Okumbor, Sao (SO on 73), Cator.  Subs: Hoy, Lane, Ashworth, Brown. 18th Man: Gardner.

Hull KR: Hiku (G), Evalds (2T), Opacic, Gildart, Hall R, May, Lewis (T), Hadley, Litten, Whitbread, Tanginoa (T), Batchelor, Minchella. Subs: Sue, King, Parcell (T, SB on 73), Aydin. 18th Man: Hall C.

Half-Time: 0-14.

Full-Time: 0-22.

Score Progression: 0-4, (SB), 0-8, 0-12, 0-14, (SO) : HT: 0-18, (SB), (SO), 0-22 :FT.

Lead Exchanges: KR.

Referee: Liam Moore.

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Posted by RLFANS News Hound on Thu 15th Feb 2024 9:56 PM | Views : 4735 | Replies : 0 | BACK TO STORIES