Double Challenge Cup holders Hull eased in to this year’s quarter-finals with a 38-20 win at Featherstone, despite finishing the game with nine men.
In the absence of injured pair Albert Kelly and Marc Sneyd, Jake Connor impressed as he controlled the game virtually from start to finish, scoring two tries and setting up another three.
But Championship side Featherstone showed promise, particularly in attack, and winger Luke Briscoe made history by scoring a try for a 17th consecutive match in the first half.
The game turned ugly in the final quarter, ending up with six sinbins and one red card.
A sign of the task at hand for Featherstone came within five minutes, as Jake Connor’s long pass right found Josh Griffin, who shrugged off Connor Farrell and Martin Ridyard to break away and then put Connor in for the game’s opening try.
Griffin then pickpocketed Anthony Thackeray with a one-on-one steal to put Hull on the attack once again.
They spent a prolonged period camped on the Featherstone line, partly due to a delay when Josh Bowden was carried off injured after Connor had put him close to the line, before eventually Sika Manu burst through the line, hit the floor untackled and was able to crawl forward and put the ball over by the side of the posts.
By 12 minutes it was 18-0 to the Super League outfit, Thackeray dropping a towering kick by Connor, who was by now running the game singlehandedly, and he went on and eased through a gap for his second try being put through by Joe Westerman, making his first start since re-joining the Airlie Birds from Toronto Wolfpack.
It looked like being a very long evening for the hosts, though to their credit they dug in and a 40/20 from Martin Ridyard on the quarter mark laid the platform for them to get on the board.
Thackeray turned the tables on Griffin this time, shrugging off his tackle attempt and then getting his head down to find the line.
Featherstone were asking questions of the Hull defence again minutes later, only for Josh Hardcastle to put a short ball down and from it, Jamie Shaul scooped up the loose possession and went 80 metres unopposed to stretch the lead to 24-4.
The pair causing Featherstone the most problems linked up again for Hull’s fifth try on 32 minutes, Griffin taking on Connor’s short ball and once again proving too much for Ridyard to handle, Connor making it five from five with the boot for 30-4.
History followed four minutes later as Featherstone, who showed good attacking shape throughout, shifted the ball right and winger Luke Briscoe finished acrobatically in the corner to equal Eric Harris’ 82-year-old record of scoring tries in 17 consecutive matches.
Briscoe added his second five minutes in to the second half, once again finishing smartly in the corner off Tom Holmes’ long pass, and Featherstone had reduced arrears to 30-16.
They were perhaps fortunate to retain a full complement of players on 47 minutes when Misi Taulapapa wiped out Jamie Shaul while the Hull full-back waited for a high kick to come down and five minutes later, Bureta Faraimo took on another excellent pass by Connor for 34-16.
Featherstone were reduced to 12 men on 55 minutes, Briscoe shown the yellow card for a professional foul on Shaul, holding him down after he had been put through a gap by Westerman.
Despite their numerical disadvantage, Featherstone continued to try and attack but a dropped ball by Holmes was snaffled by Faraimo, and for the second time the hosts were forced to watch as a Hull player went the full length for a try.
The final quarter of the game got ugly and barely seconds after Briscoe had returned to the field, Featherstone had another man sinbinned, John Davies shown a yellow card for a high shot on Jez Litten.
Hull, having lost three players to injury during the game, would finish with nine men after Danny Washbrook, Jake Connor and Jamie Shaul were all sinbinned, and Bureta Faraimo saw red with a reckless high tackle as the hooter sounded.
In amongst those two incidents, Gareth Hock grabbed what would be the final score of the game, taking on Holmes’ short pass for Featherstone, who themselves ended with 12 when Brad Knowles was sinbinned.
Featherstone: Thackeray, Briscoe, Harcastle, Taulapapa, Robinson, Ridyard, Holmes, Wheeldon, Carlile, Knowles, Farrell, Davies, Lockwood. Subs: Wildie, Hock, Cooper, Brooks.
Hull: Shaul, Faraimo, Griffin, Hadley, Talanoa, Connor, Tuimavave, Green, Houghton, Bowden, Manu, Minichiello, Westerman. Subs: Matongo, Washbrook, Litten, Lane.