Last Saturday, Hull entertained Birkenhead Park at the Ferens Ground, a side they had beaten 50-3 on November 25th, and in a blistering start secured the bonus point in the first ten minutes of play.
It was 43-0 at the break and although Park rallied well to score a couple of tries in the 54th and 58th minutes Hull ran out easy winners by 60-12.
Ten tries were scored from Steve Hihetah (3 and now on 30 for the season), Mike Adlard (2 and now on 19), Lee Birch, Harvey Harding (2), Cameron Curry and Zak Poole. Steve Johnson landed five conversions.
Elsewhere in the division, Billingham had a rare old tussle with visitors Rossendale who sneaked a very narrow 32-31 victory in what must have been a nail-biting game for both sets of supporters.
Harrogate had a home win by 26-15 in the Yorkshire derby with Ilkley, gaining the bonus point to keep in touching distance of ourselves in the table and in another cliff-hanger at Lymm the home side pushed the champions-elect all the way before losing 39-32.
In another Yorkshire derby at Pocklington, the home side had no answer to a rampant Morley team who posted only their fifth win of the season with a 33-0 victory; Sandal gave their supporters a fright when visitors Kirkby Lonsdale dropped a late drop goal to make the score 19-17 but the home side were able to hang on to their slender lead and Wirral were heavily beaten at home by Kendal to the tune of 48-10.
All this means that once again there is no change at the top with Preston Grasshoppers, Hull and Harrogate leading the way whilst at the bottom Birkenhead Park are now relegated along with Pocklington whilst Morley are 17 points behind Sandal with four games remaining.
This weekend’s fixtures (March 31st) are all catch-up games and throw up a couple of tasty affairs which could affect the promotion and relegation standings. Third-placed Harrogate entertain bottom side Pocklington and with the best will in the world I can see no other result than a resounding home win. Twelfth-placed Morley entertain tenth-placed Kirkby Lonsdale and if Kirkby Lonsdale win Morley will take the third relegation spot. I have a sneaking suspicion that Morley will win and hang on for at least another week, but Kirkby Lonsdale will be smarting after their heavy defeat to Hull and last week’s narrow loss at Sandal and they could raise their game.
Preston should take a five-point win from their game with ninth-placed Ilkley and if they do they will become the divisional champions. If they only take four points they must wait a little longer. Rossendale v Billingham is the reverse fixture from last Saturday and Billingham will be hoping to avenge last week’s result but I think that the heavy pitch at Ross will prove the difference but either way it should be close again.
Finally, our game at Wirral, where eighth take on second, must result in an away win if Hull are to retain their second place in the table. Hull won the corresponding game 42-7 in December and Kendal’s 48-10 win at Wirral will have had a demoralising effect on the home side and although Hull will not underestimate them I think they will have too much power and pace for their hosts.