Hull FC were made to work hard by Sheffield Eagles on a chilly afternoon in South Yorkshire in Tony Smith’s first game as Hull FC Head Coach.
After a sluggish start, the Airlie Birds stuck in the game and ground out the result, with tries from Scott Taylor, Jake Clifford, Danny Houghton and Cam Scott enough to claim the victory for Hull.
Tony Smith named a strong side for his first run out as Hull FC head coach, featuring three of his new signings. Tex Hoy made his first appearance for Hull, starting at full back, with fellow signing from Newcastle Knights Jake Clifford starting at half and Brad Dwyer completing the trio from the bench.
Joe Lovodua and Josh Griffin returned from injuries that prematurely ended their 2022 seasons, whilst other experienced faces included Scott Taylor, Danny Houghton and reigning Player of the Year Brad Fash.
Sheffield’s side included former Black & Whites winger Matty Dawson-Jones, whilst Academy graduates Connor Bower and Ryan Johnson.
Other familiar faces in the Eagles side included Super League veterans Ben Jones-Bishop, Kris Welham and Aaron Murphy.
On a chilly afternoon in Sheffield, it was the hosts that raised the temperatures first, scoring in the opening exchanges through Corey Aston.
Aston’s score came after a Jack Hansen kick was allowed to bounce in goal and wasn’t dealt with by the Black & Whites, with Aston diving on the loose ball.
The Eagles scored from their next set, going the length of the field, Aston shaping to kick on the last but throwing the pass to Dawson-Jones, who offloaded to Bower to stumble over the line under pressure from Adam Swift.
Hull reduced the deficit after growing into the game, Scott Taylor crossing for the first time since 2019 on a Darnell McIntosh grubber kick that Joe Lovodua might have got to had he not been tackled without the ball. Jake Clifford converted from under the posts.
Matty Dawson-Jones was the second former Hull player to add his name to the scoresheet immediately afterwards, Joe Lovodua knocking on from the kick-off, and the Eagles scoring on the first play.
Jake Clifford scored Hull’s second of the afternoon, reacting first to a loose offload to stroll under the posts and convert again.
However, it was the Eagles that finished the first half the strongest with a replica of the first try, a bouncing grubber kick not dealt with in goal and Aston diving on it and converting again with the last klick of the first half.
Half Time: Sheffield Eagles 20 – 12
Tony Smith rung the changes at half time, with Tex Hoy, Jake Clifford, Chris Satae and Darnell McIntosh replaced at the break, with Smith utilising his younger players in the second period.
Those changes paid dividends for the Black & Whites with a much improved start to the half, and it was Hull who had the first chance of the second half after Brad Dwyer raced out of acting half to feed Adam Swift. Swift passed to Will Gardiner, but wasn’t able to take the return pass from his prop.
It was a similar play that led to the first points of the second half, as Dwyer ran away, produced an unusual kick off his knee to Danny Houghton and the veteran strolled in to score.
Hull then took the lead for the first time shortly afterwards, with what proved to be the final points of the match, Ben McNamara’s high kick held in the wind, which was knocked on by Matty Dawson-Jones, Cam Scott jumping over the tackler and sprinting 40 meters to score.
Full Time: Sheffield Eagles 20 – 22 Hull FC
The Line Ups:
Sheffield Eagles: Ben Jones-Bishop, Matty Chrimes, Kris Welham, Ross Oakes, Matty Dawson-Jones, Cory Aston, Jack Hansen, Liam Kirk, Joel Farrell, Tyler Dickinson, Connor Bower, Aaron Murphy, Titus Gawze
Interchange: Bayley Liu, Ben Shields, Blake Broadbent, Evan Hodgson, Joe Hird, Lewis Peachey, Mekhi Bridgeman-Reaney, Mickey Wood, Ryan Johnson
Hull FC: Tex Hoy, Darnell McIntosh, Mitieli Vulikijapani, Cam Scott, Adam Swift, Ben McNamara, Jake Clifford, Scott Taylor, Joe Lovodua, Chris Satae, Jordan Lane, Josh Griffin, Brad Fash
Interchange: Brad Dwyer, Danny Houghton, Davy Litten, Harvey Barron, Joe Cator, Lewis Martin, Manoa Wacokecoke, Matty Laidlaw, Will Gardiner, Zach Jebson
Sheffield Eagles: Corey Aston (2), Connor Bower, Matty Dawson-Jones
Goals: Aston (2/4)
Hull FC: Scott Taylor, Jake Clifford, Danny Houghton, Cam Scott
Goals: Clifford (2/2), McNamara (1/2)
Attendance, in association with Garbutts: 1555