Relive Sports Mole's coverage of the Super League elimination playoff match between Hull FC and Catalans Dragons.
By Barney Corkhill, Assistant Editor Filed: Friday, September 13, 2013 at 19:30 UK
Last Updated: Tuesday, September 17, 2013 at 00:27 UK
Hull FC ground out a hard-fought 14-4 victory over Catalans Dragons this evening to progress into the Super League preliminary semi-finals.
A low-scoring first half saw its first points in the 32nd minute when Thomas Bosc scored a penalty to put his side 2-0 up.
They seemed to be taking a lead into the halfway stage until Jamie Shaul broke free from deep inside his own half, racing past a number of players to score a magnificent solo try.
Bosc and Danny Tickle scored a penalty apiece in the second half before the returning Gareth Ellis put the result beyond doubt with his first Super League try of the season.
You can read how the match unfolded with Sports Mole's live coverage below.
7.30pmGood evening! Thank you very much for joining us here at Sports Mole for the first of the 2013 Super League elimination playoffs as Hull FC host Catalans Dragons. It is knockout rugby from here on in, so one of these sides will be playing their last match of the season tonight.
7.32pmLet's start by looking at the hosts tonight. Hull FC have reached this stage of the season thanks to a sixth-placed finish in the final league standings. In finishing sixth they matched their finish from last season, although their points tally of 28 is lower than one year ago.
7.34pmTheir points tally put them level on points with tonight's opponents, but it is their superior points difference that gives them the home advantage in this match. They were some way off the pace in terms of reaching the qualifying playoffs, finishing as they did seven points behind fourth place, while they fell well short (14 points) of league-leaders Huddersfield.
7.36pmTheir last outing was one of disappointment. They were beaten convincingly by St Helens in the final game of the season, allowing the Saints to jump above them into fifth place. They did, however, win three of their last five games of the season, beating Wigan, Salford City Reds and local rivals Hull KR.
7.38pmThis is by no means Hull FC's first taste of knockout rugby this season. They went all the way to the Challenge Cup final, only to be beaten 16-0 by Wigan Warriors last month. They will be looking to put that disappointment to one side tonight, as well as using it to spur themselves on.
7.40pmHull will be boosted by the return of captain Gareth Ellis, who was injured in that Challenge Cup final, but Ben Crooks remains sidelined through injury. Crooks was one of two Hull players named in the Super League dream team this season, alongside winger Tom Lineham.
7.42pmCatalans Dragons did not have any representatives in that dream team, although they will be delighted to have France captain Olivier Elima back in their ranks for today's match after injury.
7.44pmAs I have already stated, the Dragons finished level on points with Hull during the regular season, which makes tonight's match very hard to call. There was a 74-point gap between the two sides in the league, but in terms of results there was nothing to separate them. Both won 13, drew two and lost 12.
7.46pmThe Dragons' finish was significantly worse than 2012, though. They dropped three places and picked up eight less points this time around, leaving them needing to win to reach the same stage of the playoffs that they were eliminated at last season.
7.48pmCatalans come into this match in slightly worse form that their opponents having lost three of their last five matches. That bad spell robbed them the chance of finishing fifth in the table and having the easier match in the elimination playoffs, while a final-day defeat to Warrington Wolves consigned them to seventh place.
7.50pmPerhaps as worrying for the visitors is their recent record against Hull. They have only won one of their last four meetings with tonight's opponents, while they haven't won here at the KC Stadium since 2008.
7.52pmThese two sides have met three times this season, with Hull edging the head-to-head record so far. Tonight's hosts won 28-8 at the KC Stadium before beating Catalans again in the Challenge Cup, this time picking up a 24-13 away win. The Dragons sole win over Hull this season came in France and was fairly emphatic as they cruised to a 30-4 victory.
7.54pmHull edge the overall record between these two sides as well. They have won 10 of the 17 meetings, with the Dragons successful on five occasions and two matches finishing as draws. There will certainly be no draw tonight as the exciting prospect of the 'Golden Point' looms to decide any stalemate. It has never come down to a golden point in the playoffs before, but with these two sides seemingly so evenly matched, we could be in for a close one tonight.
7.56pmA reminder that the losers of this match will be eliminated from the playoffs. There are no second chances at this stage, unlike for Huddersfield last night as they were beaten by Wigan. Because these two sides finished in the lower half of the top eight, they are entered into the elimination playoffs as opposed to the qualifying playoffs. That means the, while the loser goes out tonight, the winner will face either Huddersfield or Warrington/Leeds in a preliminary semi-final for a place in the qualifying semi-finals. The winners of the two qualifying semi-finals will compete in the Grand Final on October 5.
7.58pmHull will come into this match as slight favourites due to their home advantage and recent record against the Dragons, but this one really could go either way. The rain is pouring down as it was in yesterday's match between Huddersfield and Wigan, so expect a fair amount of handling errors tonight.
8pmTonight could see Steve Menzies make the last appearance of his illustrious career. He will be desperate to prolong the 20-year career for a few more weeks but, if this is to be his final bow, what a career he has had.
1 minKICKOFF: Joe Westerman gets us underway as Hull FC kick off to the Dragons in very difficult conditions.
3 minHenderson comes in with a late hit on Jacob Miller, which upsets a number of Hull players. On his way back into the defensive line, Henderson gets a right hook for his actions, but the ref doesn't see it and play just carries on.
5 minIn these sorts of conditions this match could well be decided by the forwards and the kicking game. That is certainly how it has shaped up so far, with both sides struggling to break the defensive line with the ball in hand.
6 minHoldsworth hoists the first high ball into the air, but Webb makes a good catch despite slipping. The ball almost escaped his clutches, he he managed to hold on. Those sorts of kicks could be very useful in these conditions.
8 minHoughton's plan is clearly to keep the ball in play with his kicks. They have all gone down the middle of the field and have been backed up by good team chases. They are clearly trying to keep the Dragons penned back into their own half hoping that a mistake comes.
9 minThe first turnover of the night comes for the Dragons, though. It was a failed offload that gifted them the ball and they have it in an advanced position in the Hull half now.
9 minWebb sends the first grubber through for a winger to chase, but it is shovelled behind by the defence to set up a goal line dropout. There were plenty of them in last night's match, and I am expected plenty more tonight.
11 minVery good work from Horne as he puts the ball behind from just in front of his own try line. He had no other option there, but had to be sure that he would get enough of the ball.
12 minMISSED PENALTY! Yeaman gives a penalty away for not standing square, and then adds a swinging arm for good measure when making the tackle. Bosc wisely chooses to go for goal with the penalty, but he shanks it a bit and sends it wide. This match could be very close, so every point will count. That could prove costly.
13 minCatalans are asking all of the questions in attack at the moment. Hull have now been forced into their third goal line dropout in the last five minutes as the Dragons continue to pour forward and send grubber kicks through.
15 minBosc's clever inside kick is well read by Shaul, who begins a first Hull attack for some time. The eventual kick is another high one, but again Webb makes no mistake with his catch. Here come the Dragons again.
17 minBig mistake from Hull. Crookes knocks it on in the first tackle and now Catalan will get the ball back inside the Hull 22. This is a big chance for the visitors to get the first points of the match.
18 minGood defending from Hull, though, as they force the Dragons into using up all of their tackles. The hosts will have the ball back deep in their own half.
20 minI was just about to say how the Dragons had done brilliantly not to make any handling errors so far, but their first could well be a costly one as it is knocked on deep inside their own territory. Hull have their best chance of the match now.
21 minThe kick is slid through on the ground but the defence get there first to bat it away for another goal line dropout, the Dragon's first of the evening.
21 minOh dear, Bowden picks up what was a good kick, but loses it in the first tackle. He ran straight into three defenders leading with the ball-carrying arm, so it was no wonder that he lost possession. The handling errors are starting to mount.
23 minOh the best break of the day almost results in a try for Hull, but they try to do a little to much in the end. Horne made the initial break before making a good offload to Shaul, but the youngster should have held on instead of going for a switch pass that went to ground.
25 minThe Dragons make a break this time, but Shaul is back to make a vital tackle when one-on-one with Bosc. The visitors move the ball over to the opposite wing, but they knock it on with an overlap begging. That is a huge chance that has just gone begging.
27 minHuge chance for Hull as the Dragons knock on inside their own quarter. The hosts now have possession around 15 yards from the Dragons line.
29 minUnflinching defence from the Dragons as they refuse to let Hull past. A high kick is hung up to the opposite wing which Crookes takes brilliantly, but on his way down the ball slips from his grasp and the ref blows for a knock on. Again, the conditions rob a side of another very good chance.
31 minTickle goes for an unnecessary offload inside his own half and Pryce nips in to nick the ball back for his side. The Dragons eventually earn themselves a penalty within kicking range and, sure enough, Bosc will go for the posts.
32 minPENALTY! We have our first points on the board and, with the match looking like it will be a low-scoring one, then could be very important. This kick is further out than Bosc's first but from a nicer angle, and he duly slots it between the uprights.
34 minHull work the ball one way and then manage to keep it alive for long enough to pass it across to the opposite wing. The final pass goes to ground, but Crookes picks it up before kicking through and forcing a goal-line dropout.
35 minSilly play from the Dragons are they are penalised for a school-boy error within kicking range. The Hull players want to run, but the word from the coaching staff tells them to kick, and it is a wise decision to go for the posts.
36 minMISSED PENALTY! Oh that is a wasted chance for Hull. Tickle does not have a tricky angle to negotiate and he should have enough range to make the 45-yard kick, but he pulls it wide of the posts and the Dragons maintain their narrow lead.
38 minA handling error from the visitors allows Crookes to collect the ball and make a half-break. An early kick is put over the top and Crookes slides in amongst three defenders but misses the ball by a matter of inches as it goes dead. It will be a 20-metre dropout.
39 minThat is just brilliant from the young fullback. He collects a high kick inside his own quarter, shakes off one tackle and then bursts through a gap before racing away from all of the defenders. Wow, he showed phenomenal pace there, that is truly world class rugby. The try is reviewed before finally being awarded.
40 minTickle adds the extras with a relatively simple kick, and it is no more than that try deserves. Magnificent stuff at the end of this half.
8.50pmThat was a truly special way to take us into the break, and it is Hull who go in ahead. It was a sloppy half on the whole, with scoring opportunities few and far between, but that try from Jamie Shaul has illuminated the match. This is the youngster's playoff debut and, if he has a better playoff moment in his entire career, he will have done well.
8.52pmThe main story of the half until that try was the adverse weather conditions that both sides have had to put up with. All of the players are soaked to the bone as the rain is incessant inside the KC Stadium. That is making any clever handling very tricky indeed, and players are choosing to just catch and drive themselves most of the time.
8.54pmBoth teams have found themselves in good advanced positions on a number of occasions, but the conditions have made it very hard to turn that territory into points. There have been a number of handling errors in crucial areas of the field already, and it is likely to only bet worse.
8.56pmConsidering the conditions, the general level of play and handling has actually been good from both sides. There have been a number of errors, but the rain is so bad that I would have expected more than we have had. Still, this match is likely to be settle by the odd score, so every chance to get points on the board will be vital. We have seen every penalty opportunity kicked so far, and I expected nothing less in the second half. He could also see a few drop goal attempts in the second half too.
8.58pmSpeaking of the importance of scoring opportunities, both sides have missed one apiece in that first half. Bosc was guilty of hooking a very kickable penalty wide of the posts with the scores still at 0-0, while Tickle also sent a long-range kick wide that would have levelled the scores at 2-2.
9pmWhile the conditions have no doubt played their part in such a low-scoring encounter so far, both defences also deserve praise. Hull have a 97% tackle success rate so far, and the Dragons are not far behind on 96%. There have been a few mistakes from both teams on the attack, but very little from either defence.
9.02pmShaul has certainly thrust his name into the reckoning for man of the match in that first half. He made a number of crucial defensive plays before gifting us that phenomenal try at the end of the half. Without him, it could well be a very different match as he has made at least one try-saving tackle in addition to scoring himself.
9.04pmEven with Hull's four-point lead at the halfway stage, this match could very much still go either way. It just takes one moment of magic (or another moment of magic, I should say), or one error brought about by the weather to bring the Dragons back into the match. I think that this one is going to be decided by a solitary score.
41 minKICKOFF: We're back underway at the KC Stadium as the Dragons kick to Hull, who will have the first possession of the second half.
43 minThe Dragons' first possession of the half takes them to within 10 metres of the Hull line, but the kick on the last tackle goes into touch and Hull will have a scrum.
45 minBig mistake from Hull as a high Pryce kick is allowed to bounce deep inside the hosts' territory. Shaul then can't collect with teammate Crookes also in attendance, and a knock on hands the ball back to the Dragons within a few yards of the Hull line.
47 minCatalans don't take advantage of that chance, though. They play to the final tackle and Bosc then goes for a kick that is blocked and gifts possession back to Hull. Even allowing for the conditions, the Dragons were too conservative there.
49 minWhitehead gets within a yard of the line before being stopped by four black and white shirts. Eventually Webb's kick is blocked and then he pulls his man back to concede a penalty. The ref must have thought about showing a yellow card there too, but I think he made the right decision in just awarding the penalty.
51 minPoor kick from Bosc as he hits it straight over the dead ball line, gifting Hull the ball back on their own 20 yard line. The Dragons have been on top in this second half so far but just don't seem capable of breaking through this Hull defence.
53 minMenzies sends a grubber kick into the far corner but Shaul is there to bat it away for a goal line dropout. The Dragons will get the chance to launch yet another attack now.
54 minPryce sends a perfectly-weighted grubber kick through that hangs up just on the dead ball line, forcing Shaul to knock it out of play for another goal line dropout. Hull have not had a real chance to attack in this second half yet, but their defence is looking immoveable.
56 minCatalans are within a couple of yards of the try line when they are awarded a penalty. It is an indicator of how close this match is that they choose to go for goal here.
57 minPENALTY! After that conservative decision, it was absolutely vital that Bosc slotted it over. There was no need to worry, however, as he put it right through the middle to bring the Dragons within two points.
57 minOh that is naughty from Pelissier. He stands on Heremaia's Achilles which draws an angry reaction from the Hull man. It threatens to flare up but no punches are thrown and, despite Heremaia's actions being the more obvious penalty, Hull are awarded the chance to regain their four-point lead. Good refereeing.
59 minPENALTY! Tickle makes no mistake with his kick this time. It is closer than his last one and is a fairly routine kick for a man of Tickle's quality. Hull restore their four-point lead, and it could prove to be a costly error from Pelissier.
60 minHere is an image that goes some way to showing what conditions these two sides have had to put up with. The rain is pelting down!
62 minGood break from Pryce as he sends a grubber kick through that he manages to get a second boot to on his way through. Shaul is there to mop up again, however, and Hull can now launch another attack. Good play from Pryce, but equally good from Shaul.
64 minA promising Hull attack is ended by an accidental collision between Yeaman and Menzies. That will go down as obstruction and will be a penalty to the Dragons, but there was nothing malicious in it from Yeaman.
65 minBlanch picks up the ball on the wing and sends an unorthodox kick back infield that Schaul is (again) well-placed to deal with. That was clever play from Blanch, who has clearly listened to his coach's orders to keep the ball away from the touchline.
67 minCatalans get away with one there! A good kick forces Webb to run from just in front of his try line, and after the first tackle there seems to be a forward pass that would've given Hull the ball back in a great position, but the ref didn't see it.
68 minThat could potentially be the match-winning try! Jacob Miller shows good footwork to escape the clutches of two attempted tackles before utilising a classic two-on-one situation and sending Ellis over the line for his first Super League try of the season. Tickle adds the extras, and Hull have a 10-point advantage.
70 minHoughton knocks the ball on from the resulting kickoff, and the Dragons have a chance now to hit straight back. If they can score quickly here then they could get themselves back into this one. They need to be a bit more adventurous, though.
71 minPryce tries to slip another kick behind the defence, but Whiting plucks it out of the air brilliantly. That could be just as important as that second try in seeing Hull over the line in this match.
72 minA huge tackle on Shaul is greeted with derision by the home fans, but the referee allows it and Shaul even congratulates the Catalan player for the tackle, which was a fair one. Hull get a penalty moments later, though, and they have a chance to get the ball up to the other end of the pitch now.
74 minThe Dragons are trying much more ambitious moves now. A half-break results in an attempted offload that gifts the ball back to the hosts, who have been superb in defence this evening.
76 minHull are getting a little excited and ill-disciplined now, and there is no need for it. This match is not over by any stretch of the imagination, especially against Catalans, but they should be able to see it out comfortably if they just keep their heads.
77 minBriscoe has a chance for an interception and he would have been away had he got a clear boot on the ball then. Instead, he sliced it out of play and the Dragons have the feed into the scrum in an advanced position. They simply must score here though, you feel.
78 minHow many times have I said 'Shaul puts the ball out' tonight? Well, he does it again from another low kick to force another goal line drop out. The youngster's positioning to mop up those kicks has been superb tonight.
78 minOh, Steve Menzies is denied a brilliant end to his illustrious career, as well as an exciting end to this match. He reaches over the line with the ball in one hand and loses control of it briefly before getting pressure on the ball as it goes down. It is a tough decision for the video ref, who eventually decides against awarding a try.
80 minThis Hull defence has been impeccable tonight. Catalans have dominated possession and territory but they will not win this game thanks to the defensive solidity of Hull FC.
9.56pmA rearguard action provides Hull with a win in awful conditions tonight. They prevented the Dragons from crossing their line at all despite the visitors having much more possession and territory, and they will go on to face either Huddersfield or Wigan or Leeds in the preliminary semi-finals next week.
9.58pmFor the Dragons, their season is over, and so is the career of the legendary Steve Menzies, who so nearly went out with a big bang at the end there. The conditions made it tough for the French side, but they were perhaps too conservative in their attacks. Hull's defence was superb, but the Dragons didn't ask as many questions of them as expected.
10pmRight, that's all we have time for tonight. Thank you for joining Sports Mole for what was an attritional 80 minutes in testing conditions for both sides. It is Hull who progress through to the next round of the playoffs, and you can read exactly how they did it with our match report here. The remaining two playoffs matches take place tomorrow afternoon, and we will have them covered here so be sure to check back in for them. Until then, though, goodbye!