A man of the match performance from England World Cup hopeful Jake Connor inspired Hull to a 31-8 demolition of Leeds at Headingley.
It was a frantic start at Headingley. Hull’s new recruit Kane Evans, playing just his second game for the club, was sin-binned eight minutes in for a high tackle on Jack Walker.
And there was another yellow card two minutes later. Leeds prop Matt Prior was sent for 10 for a high shot on Hull winger Adam Swift.
It was Hull who drew first blood thanks to Connor. The 27-year-old maverick, who was left out of Shaun Wane’s England squad last week, threw a superb kick dummy to score.
Connor was certainly up for the game. He threw a superb quick-fire cut out pass to Swift who touched down in the corner on the half hour mark.
Full-back Connor, who played for the Combined Nations All Stars in 2021, got his second in the 34th minute thanks to another dummy. Ben McNamara kicked his third conversion to give Hull an 18-0 lead at the break.
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HT: Leeds Rhinos 0-18 Hull FC
Leeds winger David Fusitu’a thought he had scored shortly after the second half restart. But the Tonga international’s effort was ruled out by the video referee due to being in touch.
And it was just minutes later when Hull extended their lead through back-rower Andre Savelio.
McNamara added a penalty goal in the 55th minute to put Brett Hodgson’s side 24-0 up. Ultimately, the game was out of reach for Leeds at this point.
But the Black and Whites were dealt a huge injury blow when Joe Cator left the field with an Achilles injury. It was the same Achilles that he had just come back from following a seven-month lay-off.
Hull were in fine form on the night. Fiji international Joe Lovodua capped a strong individual performance with a try in the 64th minute.
Connor had another say on the game with 10 minutes to go as he added a drop goal to rub salt into the wounds of the Rhinos.
Richard Agar’s side pulled two back late on through Tom Briscoe and Liam Sutcliffe. But it was Hull who finished impressive 31-8 winners at Headingley.
FT: Leeds Rhinos 8-31 Hull FC
Leeds: Walker; Fusitu’a, Briscoe, Sutcliffe, Handley; Austin, Sezer; Oledzki, Johnson, Prior, Gannon, Martin, Tetevano. Subs: Dwyer, Donaldson, Thompson, Mellor.
Tries: Briscoe, Sutcliffe Goals:
Hull: Connor; Shaul, Vulikijapani, Griffin, Swift; McNamara, Lovodua; Evans, Houghton, Satae, Sao, Savelio, Brown. Subs: Cator, Fash, Johnstone, Bowden.
Tries: Connor (2), Swift, Savelio, Lovodua Goals: McNamara 5 Drop Goals: Connor 1
The Jake Connor show
What a performance from Jake Connor. Oh wow. He never ceases to amaze us, does he?
His first try was outrageously good. He was at the heart of everything they did in attack.
Connor hasn’t played for England since 2018. But on the back of tonight’s performance, could we soon see him in Shaun Wane’s side? If he carries on in that form it’d be hard to leave him out.
Joe Cator injury blow
It was a devastating injury for young Hull forward Joe Cator.
The 23-year-old only made his return from a seven-month injury lay-off in tonight’s game. Unfortunately, he suffered a recurrence of that injury.
Let’s hope he has a very speedy recovery and no doubt the club and players will rally around him at this difficult time.
It was a really poor performance from the Rhinos. They just didn’t turn up and were on the back foot from minute one.
The Rhinos recruited impressively over the off-season and many, including myself, were expecting big things from them in 2022.
Of course it is still early days. They’ve only played five games but they need to improve quickly. They were beaten in every area tonight and just weren’t good enough.
The Rhinos need a big reaction in next Friday’s trip to Salford.