Home Derby History – Part IV

Category: Heritage

Home Derby History – Part IV

The first visit of Hull FC to Rovers’ new home on Preston Road took place on New Year’s Day 1991, when a then stadium record 8,557 spectators saw the Robins overturn a 4-2 interval deficit to win 20-8, with tries by Paul Fletcher, Paul Lyman and Mike Fletcher, who also kicked four goals. A narrow reverse the following season was followed by an 8-0 win in January 1993, when Aussie centre David Liddiard scored the game’s only try. What was to be the Robins’ last home victory over the old enemy for nearly 15 years came on Boxing Day 1993, when first half tries by Tich Chamberlain and Dean Clark gave Rovers a 14-6 win.

The two sides next met in competitive games in 1997, when they clashed in National League Division 1 and also the end-of-season Divisional Play-Off East series. The then Sharks triumphed at Craven Park 32-25 in the league in June, despite two tries for Stanley Gene – his first in derby games – and followed up with a 20-12 play-off success in the penultimate match of the season. By that time, Rovers were in administration, and the fortunes of the two clubs diverged to the extent that their next competitive derby clash was nearly ten years away, in Rovers’ debut Super League season of 2007.

To make up for this break in hostilities, the two sides met four times in Super League that year, but only one of these was at Craven Park. That game was in early July, when Rovers had lost their previous four games and were in serious danger of relegation. Despite scoring three first half tries to the visitors’ two, the Robins held only a two-point half-time lead, and the Black & Whites took charge in the second half, running out 30-20 winners.

Following major team-strengthening for their second Super League season, it was a vastly different Rovers side that faced their old rivals the following March, when Jake Webster and Dan Fitzhenry tries gave the Robins a 10-0 second-half lead. But with the increasing wind behind them, FC came back strongly to level the scores, and it was only a James Webster drop-goal into the teeth of a mounting gale that gave the Robins an 11-10 win. There were four derbies again that year, and this time it was Rovers turn to have two home games. So the Black & Whites returned to Craven Park for the last game of the season, which Rovers won 36-8 to record their biggest home derby win since their 39-2 success in October 1924.

A return to the more traditional single home derby in 2009 saw two Paul Cooke tries inspire a 24-18 success; FC came from behind to secure a hard-fought 18-14 win in 2010; and in 2011, in what was to be the last derby for coach Justin Morgan and his inspirational captain Michael Vella, two tries from Shaun Briscoe led the Robins to a deserved 17-10 win over his old club.

After that, home advantage brought Rovers little cheer in the six games up to 2018. The only win in this period came in 2014 – but it was a real thriller. Travis Burns was the architect of a 21-20 win that was a lot less comfortable than it might have been. Two Graeme Horne tries in quick succession gave the Robins a 20-10 lead midway through the second half, and almost immediately after the second, the Rovers faithful were celebrating again when Kris Welham went over – only for the score to be ruled out by the video ref. Inevitably, FC took advantage of their let-off, and old nemesis Danny Houghton pulled them back to 20-16. Even then Rovers could have wrapped the game up, but dropped the ball with the line open, and the visitors levelled it with five minutes to go. In a dramatic finale, referee Child ruled that a defender had got a hand to a Burns drop-goal attempt, and from the drop-out, Craig Hall made no mistake.

The 2016 Craven Park derby is one that many Rovers’ fans might prefer to forget, but it was one in which their side put in a tremendous performance for an hour to take a 20-0 lead, before running out of steam; the Black & Whites capitalising with a remarkable come-back. After a year off in 2017 when Rovers were in the Championship, there was more disappointment with a 30-22 defeat in 2018, but after a dearth of home derby success over the previous eight years, 2019 brought two victories.

First, in front of a stadium record 12,100 crowd for the first match of the season, Rovers twice came from behind to beat their neighbours in a sensational finish. Debutant centre Jimmy Keinhorst dived in at the corner with six seconds to go to give the Robins an 18-16 win. Then, at the end of June, another debut try from a former Leeds player, this time Matt Parcell two minutes from the end, ensured an 18-10 victory.

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