Hull put in a brave and spirited effort against league leaders Catalans Dragons on Saturday afternoon, but ultimately fell short of the two points.
In front of 13,500 supporters on the club’s annual Family Match Day, FC’s second highest home attendance against the French side, Tony Smith’s men showed great desire to fight back from being 16-points down midway through the first-half.
Scores from Darnell McIntosh and Adam Swift in the moments before the break gave life to the hosts, but a second-half score from Tom Davies put the result beyond the Black & Whites, who showed much improved defence after some early frailties.
Tony Smith made just one change to the side that was victorious over St Helens last week, with Adam Swift returning from injury to take his place on the wing – he replaced Davy Litten.
Tex Hoy (hamstring), Liam Sutcliffe (leg), Mitieli Vulikijapani (knee) and Scott Taylor (shoulder) all remained unavailable through injury, while Josh Griffin served the second match of his seven match suspension.
The Dragons opened the scoring after five minutes when Tom Johnstone chased a Sam Tomkins grubber into the corner, winning the footrace to dot down first. Morgue converted.
Catalans had a second just before the half-way point of the opening forty, when they pounced on a Joe Lovodua error, as Tom Davies picked up the loose-ball in Hull’s half and raced away for an easy score. Morgue added the two points.
Hull gained a foothold in the game though after 27 minutes when Chris Satae hit a gap in the Dragons line, reached out an arm and dotted down in front of the South Stand. Clifford added the extras.
The Dragons quickly hit back though – an attack from the visitors ended up with a bundle of players over the line, and although it initially looked like the ball had been held up with some stern Hull defence, Arthur Romano managed to get the ball to ground. Morgue missed the kick.
It was back-to-back scores for Steve McNamara’s side when Julien Bousquet collided with the North Stand posts, bounced away and got the ball to ground. Morgue kicked a third goal.
But, Hull gave them a big chance to remain in the contest in the minutes before half-time. Darnell McIntosh started the fight back with a superb diving finish in the corner.
Then, a criminal mistake from the visitors meant they headed in at the break with only a four point advantage. A scrum on the half-way line with two second remaining resulted in calamity for the French side, as they sent the ball out to their right edge, where Adam Swift was on hand to intercept and race away for a brilliant score. Clifford converted both and Hull were back in the contest.
Half-Time: Hull FC 18-22 Catalans Dragons
The Dragons came out firing in the second-half and had the best of the early chances, with Adam Swift intercepting a pass to Tom Davies to prevent a certain try, and both Julien Bousquet and Sam Tomkins held up over the line.
The Dragons were denied again when Manu Ma’u crashed over the line on the hour mark – superb defence from Cator, Fash, Scott and Lane held him up.
Hull were dealt a blow when Adam Swift was withdraw with a serious looking lower leg injury.
Hull’s ranks were finally breached just after the 60 minute mark when Tom Davies chased a Tyrone May kick into the corner to grab his second of the afternoon.
Catalans’ held onto their ten-point lead in the closing stages to claim the two points, despite a brave and spirited effort from the hosts.
Full-Time: Hull FC 18-28 Catalans Dragons
Hull FC: Jamie Shaul, Adam Swift,, Cam Scott, Carlos Tuimamave, Darnell McIntosh, Jake Trueman, Jake Clifford, Brad Fash, Danny Houghton, Ligi Sao, Joe Lovodua, Andre Savelio, Joe Cator
Interchange: Chris Satae, Jordan Lane, Ben McNamara, Jack Brown
18th Man: Davy Litten
Catalans: Arthur Morgue, Tom Johnstone, Arthur Romano, Adam Keighran, Tom Davies, Sam Tomkins, Mike McMeeken, Michael McIlorum, Romaine Navarette, Matt Whitley, Paul Segeuir, Ben Garcia
Interchange: Julian Bousquet, Alrix Da Costa, Jordan Dezeria, Manu Ma’u
18th Man: Matt Ikuvalu.
Hull FC Tries: Satae (27), McIntosh (36), Swift (40)
Hull FC Goals: Clifford (3/3)
Catalans Tries: Johnstone (4), Davies (18, 61), Romano (33), Bousquet (35)
Catalans Goals: Morgue (4/5)
Peregrine Property Man of the Match: Adam Swift
Attendance, In Association with Garbutts: 13,480