Leeds Rhinos welcomed an extremely powerful Hull FC to outfit to Headingley in an exciting clash between two rebuilding teams, and it was a one way street as Lee Radford’s men showed their class.
Leeds welcomed new signings Matt Prior, Alex Mellor and Luke Gale into their line-up, as Hull FC gave first team debuts to Josh Jones, Jordan Johnstone, Manu Ma’u and Ligi Sao.
It was one of the Rhinos stars of 2019 who kick started their 2020 season as Ash Handley dove over in the corner, however, Ben Thaler correctly deemed the winger was held up before some early handbags delayed the restart.
A clear kit clash between the two teams made the game extremely difficult to watch from a distance but you couldn’t miss the Airlie Birds forwards as they charged into a smaller Rhinos side.
A high tackle from Matt Prior on Josh Jones gave Hull a penalty in front of the posts and Sneyd converted to give the visitors a slender lead.
The first try of the game, also went to Hull FC, as Ratu Naulago and Carlos Tuimavave combined for a box-office 90 metre try. The pace of the British Army winger was too much the Konrad Hurrell to deal with and Tuimavave was in support to finish the move.
Jake Connor showed his class as he escaped the clutches of Rhinos defenders and released Naulago on the right edge for his first of 2020. Despite claims of a knock-on in the build-up the try was awarded by video referee, Robert Hicks.
Hull FC picked up a second try in as many minutes after Andre Savelio managed to stay standing in a tackle by Matt Prior and offloaded to fellow interchange Josh Bowden for his first score in over a year.
Brad Dwyer felt like he’d pulled one back for the Rhinos but the hooker grounded the ball short of the line, much to the disappointment of the Headingley crowd.
The Rhinos came close again just seconds before half-time but a loose pass from Dwyer was picked up by George Griffin who charged upfield, offloaded to Bureta Faraimo and the USA international was tackled on the hooter.
HALF-TIME: Leeds Rhinos 0-16 Hull FC
The Leeds Rhinos came out in the second-half in their all white strip after the kit clash in the first 40, but it didn’t seem to change their fortunes as Luke Gale was held up over the line and another video referee decision went against the home-side.
Prior once again was penalised for a high shot and Marc Sneyd pushed Hull FC 18 points ahead.
Further ill-discipline and mistakes from the Rhinos put the Airlie Birds in a prime attacking position once again. However, instead of pushing for another try, the visitors opted to take the two points for a four score lead.
Despite being 20 points up, Hull FC powered forward for more points and Naulago picked up his second try of the match. Back-to-back-to-back penalties left the visitors 10 metres out and the spine of Sneyd, Connor and Jamie Shaul gave Naulago the space to slide over on the wing.
With 20 minutes of the game remaining, Leeds finally got on the scoreboard as Ash Handley walked over in the corner after Jack Walker pulled in the Hull defence.
The heavy rainfall and the extra 80 minutes of rugby league beforehand had turned the already poor pitch into a quagmire as players began sliding off tackles. However that didn’t stop Leeds from crossing the line again in the corner.
The ball was spread wide to Handley once more and the winger dived spectacularly into the corner. The touch judge was adamant that the winger failed to touch the ball deny before entering touch.
With the rain obstructing the cameras and Ben Thaler sending the decision up as a try, it was a tough call for Robert Hicks but once again the TMO made the correct decision to deny the home-side.
Hull FC didn’t allow the home-side any further chances, and the result was wrapped up when Andre Savelio, once again, held off a weak Leeds defender, offloaded to Jamie Shaul and dived over the line.
Marc Sneyd converted to round off and comprehensive victory for Lee Radford’s side.
FULL-TIME: Leeds Rhinos 4-30 Hull FC
Our Man of the Match: Ratu Naulago
As well as picking up two phenomenal tries and assisting Carlos Tuimavave, the British Army winger was outstanding in defence stopping Ash Handley from picking up a brace. His freakish pace and skill helped Hull FC pick up a convincing two points in round one.
Walker, Newman, Sutcliffe, Hurrell, Handley, Lui, Gale, Oledzki, Dwyer, Prior, Martin, Ward, Smith.
Interchanges: Myler, Donaldson, Mellor, Cuthbertson
Shaul, Faraimo, Tuimavave, Griffin, Naulago, Connor, Sneyd, Taylor, Johnstone, Sao, Jones, Ma’u, Ellis.
Interchanges: Satae, Lane, Bowden, Savelio
Tries: Tuimavave, Naulago (2), Bowden, Shaul
Goals: Sneyd (5/8)
Referee: B. Thaler
Touch Judges: L. Moore, J. Roberts
Video Referee: R. Hicks
Image: @seriousaboutrl (twitter)