Archive for the ‘Hull KR’ Category

Season Review: Hull KR

October 9, 2009

hullkr

Points For: 650

Points Against: 516

Home Record: W9 L4

Away Record (including Magic weekend): W8 L5 D1

Longest Winning Streak: 5 (x2)

Longest Losing Streak: 3

Top Points Scorer: Michael Dobson (246)

Top Try Scorer: Peter Fox (18)

Top Tackler: Scott Murrell (875)

Hull KR’s season ended in disappointment as they lost at home to Wigan in a pulsating playoff match in which they almost pulled off a miracle comeback. It was a bitter end to what should be seen as a very good season for the Robins as they emerged as a Super League powerhouse. After an offseason of relative calm, Justin Morgan managed to manouvre this squad into a top contender. However, a lack of experience at the top-end of Super League showed in both the League and the Cup, runs in both of which ended at Craven Park. Still, it was a very solid effort for KR, who can now justifiably claim to be top dog on Humberside.

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Hull KR 16 – 30 Wigan Warriors

September 27, 2009

That’s more like it. A large, raucous crowd; two teams engaged in a tough forward battle; exciting tries from all over the field; players continuing when injured even if they really shouldn’t.This was more like what I expected and hoped from the playoffs. It was a very bizarre game that seemed to be over at half-time as Wigan raced into an 18-0 lead. Credit to Hull KR and Justin Morgan (apparently his half-time hairdryer routine worked)  for making it interesting, because going into the final quarter it was very much anyone’s game again as Hull pulled back three tries. 

Wigan won because they were able to exploit some shoddy defending by Hull KR. You have to wonder how the game would’ve panned out had Michael Dobson not gotten seriously injured early on, because he was targeted mercilessly by Wigan. However he had little to do with the softest try of the game, Iefeta Paleaasena’s ten metre charge though four defenders which could’ve been easily avoided with one more man going low in the tackle. The Robins’ defensive effort in the first simply wasn’t good enough, the Wigan forwards did the damage up the middle, and the ‘Sam Tomkins for England’ bandwagon kept marching on at full speed.

Then early in the second half Jake Webster made a line-break, and the game nearly turned on its head. Webster didn’t have the pace to go all teh way, and no support player was close enough to finish the job straight away, but from the ensuing play-the-ball a sweeping right-to-left passing move (including a beauty of a long pass from Paul Cooke) put Chris Welham over for a try. This led to a dramatic resurgence and tries from Peter Fox and Chaz I’Anson put the Robins a mere two points behind Wigan. Unfortunately for them Martin Gleeson finished off the game with two late tries, although the first one required a visit to the Video Ref. His second try was another lapse in concentration for KR as he waltzed through a massive hole in the defensive line to take Wigan through to the next round.

Like Huddersfield the night before, Hull KR have to be disappointed that a season in which they’ve made so much progress ended this way. However they’ll come back stronger for the experience and they at least put up a very commendable effort to get back into the game. As for Wigan, they’ll be a handful for any side they now come up against, and if it’s a Saints-Wigan derby for a Grand Final place then I think we could be in for a treat.

Playoff Preview: Hull KR vs Wigan Warriors

September 26, 2009

R2_KR_Wigan

Previous Meetings: Both sides won the away game by eight points this season. Since the Robins’ return to the top flight, they’re almost equal. Interestingly, the away side seems to win more often…

Form: Hull KR have lost their last two games straight and not looked particularly energetic in doing so (although both were away games). Wigan won last week against Cas in a game they really should’ve won by more than six points, and apart from an aberration of a collapse at Huddersfield have had a really strong final third of the season. 

Personnel Concerns: Obviously, Chev Walker will be missing from last week’s side for KR. On the plus side, many of the key plays who missed last week’s game (Shaun Briscoe, Ben Galea, Scott Murrell, Jake Webster) should return. Wigan should be the same as last weekend.

Thoughts: KR have looked really flat in attack over the past few weeks, but you have to wonder how much of that was due to missing key players like Briscoe (who went off early in the defeat to Wakefield). Also, it’s hard to know what to make of last week’s loss when most of the damage was done in the final quarter of the game when the Robins were clearly tired and affected by Walker’s horrific injury. It’s possible that the squad will galvanize behind the returning players and a sense of ‘doing it for Chev’. 

They will probably need to, because Wigan aren’t going to be sympathetic. They’ve entered the playoffs in form and looked pretty good against Cas (even though they ended up making life harder for themselves than they needed to). The Wigan prop rotation has really come into its own in the last few weeks, and stopping Iafeta Paleaaesina doing too much damage from the bench will really help the Hull side. The Wigan halves have had far too much time to organize things over the last few months, and Hull will need to knock them off balance. 

In Conclusion… The key in this game is whether Hull KR can regain their attacking spark. If they play flat and lifeless for the third game in a row they will lose because Wigan are strong in the forwards and definitely have the backs to finish the job. Wigan do have all the makings of a side that could get an away win upset, but whether they can actually do this depends on which Hull KR side turn up. If it’s the one which has been outmaneuvered over the last few weeks, then Wigan will definitely fancy their chances. It’s up to KR to front up again.

Leeds Rhinos 44 – 8 Hull KR

September 18, 2009

Hmm. I can’t say that I thought the scoreboard was indicative of the competitiveness displayed in this game, but it did serve as a warning to the rest of Super League. Leeds were clearly the better side here, with Jamie Peacock leading the way in a dominating forward display, but they didn’t add the sheen to the score until the final quarter of the game. By that time the Robins were clearly knackered, having played most of the game a man down as Chev Walker suffered one of the nastier injuries I’ve seen at a rugby game (it seemed to be a compound leg fracture, and I was hoping that what I saw was merely some part of his shin pad and not bone). In the end, it proved all too much for KR. 

Michael Dobson and Paul Cooke were ineffectual tonight. They helped control the play to some extent but they lacked any real cutting edge (even their try relied on being gifted field position). Leeds by contrast were able to bomb a few chances and still rack up 44 points (even if over half of them came late in the game). The more I watch Leeds, the more I notice how crucial Danny McGuire is to their game – at one point, I thought his game could’ve been politely described as ‘mediocre’, but then I realised the first two tries came off his kicks, and he also put Ali Lauitiiti in for a try as well. I understand why people call him a glorified support-player and he’s one of the most frustrating players to watch, but I do now feel people underestimate his play-making ability and especially his kicking game (in attack, at least). 

However the main men for Leeds were Peacock (destructive all night) and Lauitiiti, whose handling skills are a delight to watch, and it was fantastic seeing both of them score tries. The backs obviously benefited from this combination of graft and flash going on in the forwards, as a worn-down Hull side wilted in the final quarter allowing Ryan Hall to add to his ever-growing try collection and Keith Senior to finish off the game by powering away from a knackered collection of Red and White players.

One word to describe Leeds: ominous. They went through a wobbly patch in the first half, but once they came out of that they started to steamroll ahead. Now they get a week’s break to give their players some rest and get the ‘club call’, choosing their semi-final opponents. It wouldn’t surprise me if they picked KR again, but that depends on the Robins winning next week. They should get Shaun Briscoe and Clint Newton back next week, which will be crucial because they need all the help they can get to get out of this minor slump.

Playoff Preview: Leeds Rhinos vs Hull KR

September 18, 2009

R1_Leeds_KR

Previous meetings: Leeds won both games this season, but they were close. They were fairly lucky to scrape a 19-10 victory at Craven Park earlier in the season, and they won the return game 24-14. The Robins have only beaten Leeds once in Super League, and that was their first meeting with them in 2007, although no game between the two in that time has been decided by more than 16 points. 

Form: This favours Leeds at the minute, who have won eleven of their last twelve games and finished the season looking ominous, although they were pushed hard by both St Helens and (surprisingly) Salford. Hull KR looked to be in good form with a five-match winning streak, but that came to an end in a rather flat performance against Wakefield last Saturday that Justin Morgan will hope was an aberration. 

Injury Concerns: None really for Leeds, although Kevin Sinfield is returning from a cheekbone injury. Hull KR might a little worried about the condition of Scott Murrell and especially Shaun Briscoe (as might England). 

Thoughts: The key to this game will probably be whether Michael Dobosn and Paul Cooke can exert their influence on this game. Last week at Wakefield they failed to do this and as a result the KR side looked lifeless and completely unthreatening. Briscoe leaving the field probably didn’t help with that either, but it’s important that Hull KR find an attacking edge in this game. 

Of course, a strong performance from the forward pack would help with that, and Clint Newton and Ben Galea have been immense for the Robins this year and will need to continue in that vein of form for any chance of successs. The thing about Leeds is that their midfield triangle of Rob Burrow, Danny McGuire and Sinfield make for a difficult trifecta to defend against because none of them dominate procedings – they spread the work around. If Hull KR can get in their faces early, especially Sinfield (who’s probably the no.1 organiser there) then that too will increase their chances of victory.

Something that will definitely be in Leeds’ favour though is their attacking form, which has been fantastic. Leeds have scored at least five tries in four of their last five games, the exception being the St Helens game (which they still won). Ryan Hall must surely have booked himself a spot on the wing for England’s Four Nations campaign. In an intriguing battle Peter Fox, who will be lining up opposite Hall for The Robins, will be trying to prove that he deserves to be there as well. 

In Conclusion… It might end up being close, but I find it very hard to see anything other than a Leeds victory here. They appear to have hit form at exactly the right time and Hull didn’t look up to the task last week. I imagine we’ll get a fairly tight first half, before Leeds dominate for a long enough spell to put the game out of reach.

Monday Musings: To Hull and Back

March 16, 2009

With all the talk about underperforming and underachieving teams currently dominating the narratives of Super League right now, there hasn’t been all that much chatter about the teams who have improved dramatically this season. What’s even more of an oversight is that two of these sides are in the same city. Hull is very much doing its claim for Rugby League capital of England a world of good with both its two Super League sides coming back from disappointing campaigns to be riding high this year. 

Last season, both of the Hull sides finished outside of the play-offs, and indeed Hull FC endured perhaps their worst season in a decade. so far this season, it’s looking a little rosier on Humberside. As of this morning, Hull FC are second and still unbeaten. Only points difference is keeping them off the top at the minute Perhaps even more surprisingly, Hull KR are currently fifth with only the one defeat and one draw blotting their resumé. Both sides have been doing pretty well in the attendances department as well, with FC averaging just over 13,500 and KR getting in around just over 8,500 a game. 

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Leeds Toughing It Out

February 21, 2009

Torrential conditions at Craven Park yesterday meant that we got to see a pretty hard, tough game, and although Hull KR put up a decent fight they eventually had to succumb to Leeds’ pressure. The turning point came when Jake Webster was deemed to have knocked on in the process of what would’ve been a go-ahead score for Rovers with five minutes to play, as the Rhinos scored a pretty nifty try via Kallum Watkins a few minutes later.

For a lot of the game I thought KR were the better side. In the end an inability to finish opportunities proved their downfall (combined with Leeds’ ability to take their chances). However, with a close defeat here and a draw at Odsal last week the Robins at least look like they’ll be a tough nut to crack and look like definite playoff contenders. As for Leeds, they appear to be missing Brent Webb and especially Rob Burrow as they have been lacking attacking spark in the last few weeks. Even so, they’ve got three wins out of three and their defence has been rock-solid (two tries conceded in three games). With Manly coming up next week they’ll need to keep it that way and also hopefully regain their offensive mojo.

Hull KR: Robins need to take flight to become contenders

February 3, 2009

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Last season was a season of massive upheaval at Craven Park, practically half a squad’s worth of new signings coming in at Hull KR. It was a sign that Justin Morgan knew changes had to be made to compete at Super League level and compete last season Rovers did, ending up just outside the playoff spots. By contrast this season has seen much less player movement, which seems to imply that Morgan doesn’t think that KR are that far off with what they’ve got.

Most of their off-season action has seen the introduction of more props to add a new layer of depth to an already talented forward pack. In Nick Fozzard they have a potentially destructive front rower who brings experience of winning to the KR pack. In Scott Wheeldon they have a player who looked like a potential world-beater but never really lived up to that expectation. He’s still a more-than-adequate player and I suspect he’ll benefit from a change of teams and also from the greater strength in depth up-front that KR now have.

Since the forwards look like they should do the business this season, there’s a burden of sorts with the backs. The key to Hull KR’s success will probably be the play of Paul Cooke and Michael Dobson. Both have proven to be highly effective in Super League, and if they can move the forwards around the pitch in a productive manner it could prove to be a fruitful season. However both are distributors more than attacking threats, and there seems to be a lack of out-and-out firepower in the side. Cooke in particular might find himself having to engineer attacking opportunities for the backs.

If the current playoff system was in effect last season then Hull KR would have scraped themselves into the postseason, so that should be a minimum target for this season. There’s a definite glut of teams who could scrape into the bottom half of the playoffs, and KR will struggle to elevate themselves above that pack, but a playoff game should be within their grasp. Now it’s up to the Robins to show that they can exceed the expectations put on them from last year and show their talent on a consistent basis.

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