The Black & Whites fells agonisngly short against an impressive Leigh outfit on Friday evening, going down 28-16.
Hull fought bravely at the Leigh Sports Village, with tries from Adam Swift, Josh Griffin and Darnell McIntosh, but it wasn’t enough to prevent the hosts from continuing their fine form.
Tony Smith made two changes to the side from the Magic Weekend clash, with Carlos Tuimavave and Jack Brown coming into the squad, replacing Cam Scott and Chris Satae – the latter of which missed out with a hamstring strain.
Hull remained without Mitieli Vulikijapani on the injury front.
After enjoying the majority of possession in the opening minutes of the game, it was the Leopards who opened the scoring after ten minutes as Gareth O’Brien dummied his was over on Hull’s right edge. Hardaker added the goal.
Hardaker made it an eight point lead when he sent over a penalty goal just two minutes later.
Leigh had a second try on the midway point of the first half; earning a scrum in the Hull half, the Leopards sent the ball to the right edge this time and Tom Briscoe had the pace to finish in the corner. Hardaker missed his third attempt of the evening.
Hull got themselves back in the game with 15 minutes before the break through; Jake Clifford created a break down the left edge, setting up Liam Sutcliffe to continue the run – Adam Swift finished off the move to continue his fine try-scoring form.
But the Leopards took the momentum back into their own hands with a Josh Charnely try in the corner, showing some superb pace to race towards the corner flag.
Hull had enough in the tank before the break though to get within six points of Adrian Lam’s side as Darnell McIntosh went over in the corner with a spectacular diving finish. Sutcliffe added the extras.
Half-Time: Leigh Leopards 16-10 Hull FC
Hull were dealt a blow just after the restart as it was confirmed that Jake Clifford would not return to the field after a failing a Head Injury Assessment after taking a blow in the first half.
Hardaker extended Leigh’s lead eight minutes after the restart with a penalty kick.
The Leopards continued their second-half dominance with a try straight from a scrum in front of the Hull sticks on the 53 minute mark, as Josh Charnely got his second of the evening in the corner.
The end to end contest contined though as the game headed for the final quarter, with Josh Griffin taking a short ball to power over for his sixth try in four games. Sutcliffe was on target with the kick once more.
Hull fought hard with plenty of field position in the final 15 minutes of the game, but could not convert it into points.
Leigh sealed the contest in the final minutes as Joe Mellor broke away in the Hull half and showed some fine pace to touch down under the posts.
Full-Time: Leigh Leopards 28-16 Hull FC
Leigh: Gareth O’Brien, Tom Briscoe, Ricky Leutele, Zak Hardaker, Josh Charnely, Joe Mellor, Lachlan Lam, Tom Amone, Edwin Ipape, Robbie Mulhern, Oliver Holmes, Kai O’Donnell, John Asiata.
Interchange: Matty Davies, Nathan Wilde, Ava Seumanufagai, Dan Norman
Hull FC: Tex Hoy, Adam Swift, Liam Sutcliffe, Carlos Tuimavave, Darnell McIntosh, Jake Trueman, Jake Clifford, Brad Fash, Danny Houghton, Scott Taylor, Josh Griffin, Jordan Lane, Joe Cator.
Interchange: Ligi Sao, Andre Savelio, Jack Brown, Brad Dwyer.
18th Man: Cam Scott
Leigh Tries: O’Brein (10), Briscoe (20), Charnely (30,53), Mellor (75)
Leigh Goals: Hardaker (4/7)
Hull FC Tries: Swift (22), McIntosh (35), Griffin (58)
Hull FC Goals: Clifford (0/1), Sutcliffe (2/2)
Peregrine Property Man of the Match: Liam Sutcliffe
Attendance, In Association with Garbutts: 6.006