Hull FC overpower Leeds with ruthless display at Headingley


Hull FC opened their Super League campaign with an impressive 30-4 triumph over Leeds.

The Black and Whites ended a 12-year wait for a win at Headingley last July and were good value for their five-try victory in the second part of Super League’s first double-header, which followed Toronto’s 28-10 defeat by Castleford.

Former British Army private Ratu Naulago, who enjoyed a prolific first season in Super League, made his mark with two tries and a wonderful save as Hull silenced a capacity 19,500 crowd.

Little went right for the Rhinos, who lost one of their strike weapons, Konrad Hurrell, with a head injury in the first half and were effectively out of the contest by the interval, when they trailed 16-0.

Leeds winger Ash Handley was held up by strong FC defence in the opening exchanges but it was a quiet start to the game as the teams – wearing similar shirts to cause some confusion – felt each other out.

The visitors got off the mark after 14 minutes when Great Britain second rower Josh Jones, one of four debutants, was taken high by Rhinos prop Matt Prior and Marc Sneyd slotted over a straight-forward penalty.

Hull were soon celebrating their first try of 2020 and it owed to brilliant wing play by Naulago, who fielded a testing kick and ran the ball back with intent, turning Hurrell inside out before drawing full-back Jack Walker and giving centre Carlos Tuimavave a clear run to the line.

FC were looking increasingly dangerous and extended their lead in the 31st minute when full-back Jamie Shaul kept the ball alive to enable stand-off Jake Connor to go through a gaping hole on Leeds’ left edge and put Naulago over out wide for his first try.

Sneyd was off target for the second time but could not miss after impressive substitute Andre Savelio went rampaging through the middle and offloaded to put prop Josh Bowden under the posts.

That made it 16-0 at half-time and, although Leeds changed their kit for the second half at the request of broadcasters Sky Sports, it could not alter their fortunes.

Home debutant Luke Gale went close three minutes into the second half but Sneyd extended Hull’s lead to 20-0 with back-to-back penalties as the rain descended to add to the size of the Rhinos’ task.

There was no way back for Leeds when Naulago took Shaul’s cut-out pass to score his second try after 56 minutes but, to their credit, the Rhinos never buckled.

Handley scored straight from a scrum set-piece move in the 63rd minute and looked to have grabbed a second until Naulago produced a flying tackle to deny him.

Shaul then applied the finishing touches to a job well done when he got on the end of a superb offload from the tackle by Savelio three minutes from the end and Sneyd kicked his fifth goal.

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