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Friday 14th February 2014, 20:00 - Round:1
|Richard Whiting, Kirk Yeaman 2, Jordan Rankin, Tom Lineham, Jordan Thompson, Richard Horne, Ben Crooks,||T||Damien Cardace 3, Elliott Whitehead, Zeb Taia 2, Morgan Escare,|
Joe Westerman 2,
Thomas Bosc 3,
Attendance: 11,400 Official: B Thaler Venue: Kingston Communications Stadium
Hull FC ran in six second-half tries to overturn a 16-12 half-time deficit and get their First Utility Super League campaign off to a winning start but Catalan Dragons had a chance to pinch a point from a dramatic match after scoring a last-minute try.
The Black and Whites appeared to have the game won when they led 36-22 after 75 minutes, yet the Catalans struck back with three tries in a remarkable finale.
Thomas Bosc would have earned a share of the spoils had he managed to convert Zeb Taia's last-minute try but he was off target for the fourth time in seven attempts to leave Hull 36-34 winners at the KC Stadium.
Hull's goalkickers fared even worse, with Joe Westerman and Ben Crooks managing just two successes from eight attempts between them.
Australian stand-off Jordan Rankin was the hero for the Black and Whites on his debut, scoring a long-range try and creating two others in a crucial seven-minute spell in the second half, while centre Kirk Yeaman scored twice, taking his try total for the club to 157 and climbing to fifth in the all-time list.
The Catalans were on course for their first win at the KC Stadium since 2008 after dominating the first half but coach Laurent Frayssinous will be alarmed at the way his side collapsed after the break.
Bosc, who was preferred to Scott Dureau as the half-back partner for Leon Pryce, and Morgan Escare, who got the nod at full-back ahead of another overseas player Brent Webb, were the architects of the Dragons' dominant first-half display.
An early 40-20 kick from Bosc enabled the visitors to set the tone and they led from the 12th minute when winger Damien Cardace took Escare's pass to touch down one-handed for the first of his three tries.
Bosc then shrugged off the discomfort of a heavy nose bleed to hoist a pin-point kick which second rower Elliott Whitehead plucked out of the air to touch down for the Dragons' second try on 19 minutes.
The French international stand-off added the goal but was off the field having treatment for his nose injury when Hull scored their first try, Richard Whiting finishing off neat handling by Westerman and Danny Houghton.
Westerman's goal cut the deficit to four points but the Catalans exposed another chink in Hull's right-side defence on 27 minutes as Cardace gathered Escare's long pass to cross unopposed for his second score.
Cardace then turned hero at the other end of the pitch by getting a hand to Richard Horne's pass to ruin Hull's two-man overlap; however, the home side managed a second try five minutes before half-time when the influential Whiting slipped a superb pass out of the tackle for centre Yeaman to touch down.
Hull's discipline continued to let them down in the second half and the Dragons almost made them pay when Taia was thrown back from the line after clever work from Pryce.
They survived that scare, however, and began to look the livelier side with Rankin imposing himself on the game.
Full-back Jamie Shaul was inches away from touching down Rankin's kick before the Black and Whites drew level through Yeaman, who collected Rankin's pass after Catalan centre Ben Pomeroy went for the interception.
Rankin then produced the defining moment of the match, taking Whiting's offload and eluding Escare on a 50-metre sprint to the line.
The purple patch was complete when Cardace failed to gather Rankin's crossfield kick to present Hull winger Tom Lineham with an easy try.
Westerman could not convert any of the three yet Hull began to look comfortable and extended their advantage.
Substitute Jordan Thompson charged through a woeful defence to score with his first touch of the ball on his debut and centre Crooks carved out a try for veteran scrum-half Horne.
Crooks had no more joy when he took over the goalkicking from Westerman but he scored Hull's eighth try after collecting Horne's kick.
The Dragons appeared to be well beaten but they created late drama with three tries in the last 12 minutes.
Pryce created one for Taia, Cardace completed his hat-trick and Escare went over to cut the gap to six points with three minutes left.
Ultimately, though, they were not able to get back on level terms as Hull sealed victory.
TA: Try assists
MT: Marker tackles
MI: Missed tackles
TB: Tackle busts
AT: Attacking kicks
AG: Av gain
CB: Clean break
DR: Run from dummy half
FT: Forty twenty
MG: Missed goals