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By James Clark | 05/07/2011

Hull FC returned to Rugby League 9s action on Tuesday evening but there was no repeat of their 2009 heroics when they lifted the trophy for the first time at Headingley.

With yet another twist for 2011, with sides progressing through a series of knockout rounds, Hull booked their place in the Grand Final in Leeds with wins over the likes of Hull KR, Wakefield and Bradford.

However, they were handed the toughest of tests for their return to the finals night with a competition opener against strong tournament favourites, reigning champions and Super League kings Wigan Warriors and there was only ever really going to be one out come.

A young but spirited Black and Whites side fought hard throughout though and caused an early shock by taking a first minute lead through in-form winger Jack Briscoe.

Supporting a stunning break from pacey centre partner Ben Crooks after some strong work in the middle of the field from scrum half Richard Wilkinson, Briscoe collected the ball on the left hand side before finishing in style in the corner to give his side a 4-0 lead.

Nevertheless, it wasn’t long before the tournaments only unbeaten side kicked into gear as the Warriors ran in five tries without reply, including a stunning effort from Ryan King as he danced past the Hull defence before side stepping full back Lee Williams to touch down during a 26-4 victory.

All was not lost though for Andy Last’s side with a Plate Semi-Final on the cards against Leeds Rhinos, a separate competition for the best of the rest, with Rhinos having fallen to Warrington Wolves in their opening match.

In a close first half, in which both sides had their chances, it was Leeds who struck first blood as Jimmy Watson crept his way over in the corner.

Ben Crooks could have responded immediately if he had collected a bouncing kick direct from kick off when through on the try line, a move Hull have worked well throughout the competition, but this time the chance went begging.

It would prove to be costly for the Black and Whites too with Leeds following up with another try in quick succession just before the break, Aston Wilson charging down field with little chase to touch down comfortably at the posts for a half-time lead of 10-0.

Hull continued to press though and almost forced their way through in the left hand corner, again Briscoe and Crooks looking the most likely outlet for a try, whilst Jacob Blades knocked on down the other flank with the line at his mercy before being outpaced by Aaron Brown who completed a fine long distance effort to put the hosts firmly in charge.

A spirited fight from the Black and Whites finally got its reward though as they managed to register a consolation score at the death. James Cunningham made the most of some handy build up play from Williams before electing to go alone and beat his man to the line as the hooter sounded to round off a disappointing evening for Andy Last’s men as they fell to a 16-4 defeat.

However, speaking to after the tournament, FC’s U20’s head coach remained upbeat and described the 9s series as a good learning curve.

“We are obviously disappointed not to come away with a win during this evening’s fixtures but it was about the experience for a young side,” he said.

“We’ve had a nice mix of 20’s and 18’s in our squad over the last month and it’s been a chance to show what they can do, mix it with some more senior players from other Super League sides and try their hand at a more open and free flowing style of football.

“That in itself brings plenty of different and new challenges which they will have been able to learn from and there are certainly a lot of positives we can take from competition as we look to finish the U20’s season strongly.”

The overall Rugby League 9’s trophy went to Warrington Wolves, but the night belonged to representative team Cumbria who narrowly lost out to the Super League side in the final game of the night having been the surprise package on route to the Grand Final.

Fastest Man Sprint.....Podium place for Lineham!
There was some cause for celebration during the Rugby League 9’s evening for Hull with a well earned podium finish for rising star Tom Lineham.

Going up against some first-team Super League players and only finding out he was running just 24 hours earlier, the pacey winger made up for a bad start by racing through into third place at the finish line.

The only two players who could better his time were top flight regulars Ben Jones-Bishop (Leeds) and former Hull winger Jodie Broughton (Salford) with a photo finished needed to crown the overall winner, which eventually went to the latter.

It’s Lineham’s second third place finish in the Fastest Man competition having claimed the same result back in 2009 whilst a York City Knights player.

Story Sponsor:
KC Lightstream

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