Hull RUFC 32- Preston Grasshoppers 34
North Division One
Saturday December 11th 2004
This was Hull’s first season in North Division One and they had made a very good start to the season having won 10 of their first 12 games.
They were in second place behind Preston Grasshoppers who had been relegated the previous season and, like the present 2017-18 season, were determined to get promotion at the first attempt.
It was also Leroy McKenzie’s 150th game for Hull RUFC.
In one of the best games seen at Haworth Park for some time Hull and Preston put on a Christmas Cracker of a game.
A thrilling and exciting match saw nine tries scored with Hull scoring five tries to four but the immaculate goal-kicking of the ‘Hoppers fly-half Paul Bailey, who landed 6 from 6 proved to be the difference.
Hull began strongly and took the lead in the third minute following a tap penalty.
Chris Kendra, Carl Paterson and Julian Barkworth were all involved before Leroy McKenzie scored near the left corner.
Paterson missed the conversion but seven minutes later he made amends with a penalty from 25 yards.
Hull were dominating the line-outs with Gareth Jackson outstanding and the forwards were on top but in the 13thminute Hull infringed and Paul Bailey land d the kick from 38 yards.
Hull came back well to put the ‘Hoppers under some pressure and in the 18th minute a classic catch and drive saw hooker Adam Atkinson get the touchdown as Preston were driven over their line. Paterson just failed to convert from wide out.
Hull collected the restart kick but Preston broke out down the right wing and only a great tackle from Shaun Higginson prevented a try being scored.
Preston then created their first period of real pressure and in the 25th minute a good move across the Hull 22 resulted in right winger Andy Lough scoring under the posts, leaving Bailey an easy conversion.
Hull’s response was immediate and three minutes later a strong run by Hull’s powerful No8 Brunson Sanders was taken on by Higginson who put Matt Donkin in for a try 10 yards from the corner which was well converted by Paterson. Hull now led 20-10.
Preston came back full of fire and five minutes of good end to end rugby ended with another try to the visitors when left winger Russell Flynn finished off some good approach play by touching down in the corner. Bailey converted with a superb kick from wide out and Hull led 20-17 at the break.
Two minutes into the second half Preston took the lead for the first time when lock Anton Cramant got the touchdown, which Bailey again converted to put his side 24-20 ahead.
Hull stormed back and in the 45th minute they scored the best try of the game which began with full-back Guy Martinson running back a clearance kick from his own 40 yard line. McKenzie, Donkin, Kendra, Higginson, Paterson and Julian Barkworth were all involved before Martinson finished off the move he had started with a try in the right corner. Paterson converted with a fine kick from the touch-line.
27-24 to Hull but in the 55th minute Hull were penalised and Bailey obliged from in front of the posts to level the scores.
In the 66th minute the ‘Hoppers took what was to prove a decisive lead when they won a short line-out and lock Craig Steel backed up a break by hooker Richie Sands to race 20 yards to score. Bailey landed his sixth goal and his side now led by 34-27.
Preston had Richard Moreton sin-binned in the 74th minute and Hull took full advantage 2 minutes later when another strong drive following a good line-out take by Jackson saw Nomani Tonga held just short but the Hull pack drove over the line for Atkinson to get his second try of the game. Paterson was just wide with his conversion attempt 10 yards from touch.
The drama of this tremendous game was not yet over as three minutes from time Hull were awarded a penalty, but with the crowd holding its breath Paterson’s kick hit the upright, and in the final passage of play his 28-yard drop-goal attempt was just one foot wide.