Challenge Cup semi-final: Hull 43-24 Leeds

Hull FC returned to Wembley in emphatic fashion as Leeds Rhinos were put to the sword in scintillating style, writes Ian Judson.

A 25 point blitz in the second half left the Rhinos wondering what might have been as they fell very short in a joint record 47th Challenge Cup semi-final.

Leeds, and particularly Ryan Hall, threatened to inflict a first ever defeat at the Keepmoat Stadium with two tries, but the Hull juggernaut was allowed to build up a head of steam as they ran riot with seven tries.

Hull’s only change from the victory over Huddersfield Giants saw Albert Kelly return to the starting line-up at the expense of Jake Connor, who dropped to the bench.

The Rhinos brought back no fewer than nine players who missed the trip to Wigan last week.

Leeds were presented with the first opportunity with a penalty, then a repeat set, but the opportunity was wasted as they coughed up possession and Fetuli Talanoa was able to clear Hull’s lines.

Hull’s first chance came as Tom Briscoe dropped a Marc Sneyd bomb and Mark Minichiello bashed his way over, but the try was ruled out by the video referee who gave Hull head and feed at the scrum.

The game continued to flow from end to end as both sides forced the issue, completing their sets but without really looking like scoring.

Leeds hit the front as Ryan Hall somehow robbed Fonua over the line to grab a high kick from Joel Moon and touchdown just in front of the dead ball line, Kallum Watkins made it a six point lead with the boot.

Hull then forced repeat sets near the Leeds line as Briscoe dropped another kick, and from a Danny Houghton pass Albert Kelly raced through a gap in the Rhinos defence to score, Sneyd brought the scores level with the conversion.

A harsh call on Fonua for a knock-on that appeared to go backwards presented Leeds with another chance from a goal line drop-out, and Hall got a controversial second try from video referee Robert Hicks despite appearing to drop the ball onto the dead ball line, Watkins added the extras from the touchline.

However the Rhinos invited more pressure on their line with a silly penalty, and the cup holders dragged themselves back into the game as Carlos Tuimavave finished off a cross-field move from Sneyd’s pass, the scrum-half was on target with the boot again.

The cup-holders took the lead in the next attack as a knock down from Briscoe gave Hull a scrum, and on the final tackle a sensational offload from Kelly put Chris Green over to take a lead into the break, Sneyd kept his 100% rate up with the boot.

Hull had the first opportunity of the second half after a break by Kelly and kick by Josh Griffin set up a promising position, but Talanoa was unable to take in Shaul’s bullet-like pass with the line begging.

Hull soon extended their lead soon after however as a Sneyd bomb was palmed back by Talanoa and Tuimavave was on hand to cross unopposed for his second try, Sneyd was on target again to make it a 12 point lead.

Hull’s next attack saw them stretch their advantage to a three score lead as Sneyd slotted over a drop goal with 25 minutes left.

Leeds got themselves back into the game as Watkins gathered in a deft kick and dashed over with 20 minutes left, the centre added the goal to his try.

Another Hull attack kept up the pressure on the Rhinos line, and a grubber kick from Jamie Shaul forced McGuire to run the ball dead for a goal line drop out.

From the resultant pressure Liam Watts crashed his way through flimsy Leeds defence to grab the initiative back for the holders, Sneyd again made it a three score lead with 15 minutes left.

Jamie Shaul then put the seal on another trip to Wembley as he grabbed a grubber kick and raced 70 metres for a trademark try from the England World Cup hopeful, Sneyd added a majestic touchline conversion.

As the Black & Whites continued to make hay another penalty presented them with another opportunity and, from close quarters, England prop Scott Taylor crashed through more weak defending from Brian McDermott’s side to take them through the 40 barrier, Sneyd again added the extras.

Leeds grabbed a consolation as Ashton Golding grabbed a try after the Rhinos were awarded a penalty close to the Hull line, Jordan Lilley added the goal.

Squads:

Hull FC: Jamie Shaul, Mahe Fonua, Josh Griffin, Carlos Tuimavave, Fetuli Talanoa, Albert Kelly, Marc Sneyd, Scott Taylor, Danny Houghton, Liam Watts, Sika Manu, Mark Minichiello, Gareth Ellis: Interchange: Jake Connor, Chris Green, Josh Bowden, Danny Washbrook

Leeds Rhinos: Ashton Golding, Tom Briscoe, Kallum Watkins, Jimmy Keinhorst, Ryan Hall, Joel Moon, Danny McGuire, Adam Cuthbertson, Matt Parcell, Brad Singleton, Stevie Ward, Carl Ablett, Jamie Jones-Buchanan: Interchange: Mitch Garbutt, Brett Ferres, Anthony Mullally, Jordan Lilley

Scorers:

Hull FC: Tries: Albert Kelly (24) Carlos Tuimavave (35, 46) Chris Green (39) Liam Watts (65) Jamie Shaul (72) Scott Taylor (75) Goals: Marc Sneyd 7/7 Drop Goals: Sneyd 1

Leeds Rhinos: Tries: Ryan Hall (19, 31) Kallum Watkins (60) Ashton Golding (79) Goals: Kallum Watkins 3/3 Jordan Lilley 1/1

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