Hull FC arrived at the Catalans Dragons having slipped to fifth in the table but knowing that a vistory over the struggling French side would see them complete the Bank Holiday in second spot. The home side were on an awful run of form without a win in the last three and on the receiving end of some big scores.
It was a close game when the two sides met in Hull at the end of February when the Dragons won by 16-14 thanks to six Luke Walsh goals despite being outscored two tries to one. Both sides were without a number of first team choices but both came into the game desperate for a win to re-discover some form.
A win for the Dragons would lift them into eighth place above Warrington Wolves who lost at home to Saford Red Devils earlier in the afternoon.
Despite not being able to take advantage of an early Luke Walsh 40-20, with six minutes on the clock Walsh tormented the Hull defence before Jake Connor provided Sam Moa with a short ball to crash over. Walsh added the conversion.
The game erupted on sixteen minutes when Danny Washbrook and Sam Moa exchanged punches before the other twenty-four players joined in. Moa saw yellow but Washbrook stayed on the field.
With the one man advantage Albert Kelly used superb strength to carry the defenders over the line from five metres to ground. Jake Connor kicked the extra two to level the scores at 6-6.
Hull hands left in at the tackle on their own thirty gave Walsh a two point penalty which also ate up the clock while his side was down to twelve men.
Both sides had chances but self-destructed when they got in their opponents twenty. With the game on a knife-edge, Walsh kicked a drop goal on thirty-nine to give his side a 9-6 half time lead.
Catalans took another offer of a two point penalty on forty-four to extend the lead to five points.
With tempers fraying Hull got a four pointer when Connor intercepted a Paul Aiton pass and found Nick Rawsthorne in support to outpace the defence and score five in from the touchline on fifty-five minutes. Connor added the extras and FC were 12-11 ahead.
On sixty-six a passing move to the left saw Rawsthorne get his second, improving the angle for Connor to slot over the extras for a seven point lead with twelve minutes left on the clock.
On seventy minutes Fouad Yaha plucked a Walsh cross-field kick from the hands of the FC defenders to drop to the ground over the whitewash. Walsh converted brilliantly from the touchline and the margin was back down to one point at 17-18.
The Dragons went back ahead on seventy-three, again from the boot of Walsh, but this time a high ball collected by Tony Gigot under the sticks to ground one-handed. Walsh kicked the simple conversion and the Dragons were back six points ahead.
A reckless high tackle by Liam Watts on Casty saw the Hull prop forward sent off on seventy eight as referee Child had no hesitation in brandishing a red card.
Kelly got cleaned out by Greg Bird as he went for the line with thirty seconds left on the clock and the Dragons regained possession enabling them to run the clock down to a terrific victory which lifts them into the all-important top eight.
It was a war of attrition in warm conditions played out by two exhausted sides. There was very little pretty or clever about it but nevertheless it was an enthralling game. FC continue their worrying losing streak which now sees them outside the top four as the Dragons celebrate their first win of the post Frayssinous era.
Dragons: Gigot (T), Duport, Romano, Thornley, Yaha (T), Walsh (5G, DG), Myler, Moa (SB, T), Aiton, Casty, Bird, Bosquet, Dezaria. Subs: Simon, Da Costa, Perez, Seguier.
FC: Shaul, Rawsthorne (2T), Tuimavave, Griffin, Michaels, Connor (2G), Kelly (T), Bowden, Houghton, Watts (SO), Manu, Minichiello, Washbrook. Subs: Downs, Turgut, Fash, Green.
Referee: James Child.