Hull came up just short of an historic victory against third placed Sale with a display of skill and effort that belied their current league status. The side seemed to throw off all the disappointments of this season and put on a disciplined display defending with great vigour and attacking with pace and invention. Perhaps most telling of all was a very good kicking game orchestrated by off-half Reece Dean with some very able assistance from centre Steve Johnson with both players kicking deep out of defence, but occasionally creating scoring opportunities in attack.
With both sides starting at pace, it was Hull who had a chance in the eighth minute, but a lineout 10 yards out was lost as was a scoring chance. Six minutes later Hull winger Mike Adlard combined well with Johnson to secure Hull a position a few yards from the Sale line and after a couple of scrums Hull’s pressure told when wing forward Laurence Cowen-Leak dived over for the try which Dean converted.
With Dean controlling the game for Hull, the home side went looking for another score and it duly came. After a penalty award, Hull found touch and after winning the lineout and driving forward, the ball came to Dean who kicked with pinpoint accuracy, cross field to his left where the ball was gathered by Adlard who offloaded to Johnson who found brilliantly full back Duell Trueman on hand to get the touchdown for an unconverted try after 28 minutes.
As halftime approached Hull thought Cowen – Leak had pulled off a great turnover as Sale strove to get themselves on the scoreboard, but not only did the ref adjudge the turnover illegal and award a penalty, but he showed a yellow card to Cowen -Leak. From the resulting line out close to Hull’s line, Sale fashioned a good catch and drive with hooker Longmore getting the unconverted try to see Hull go in at the break 12-5 ahead.
The second half was another evenly fought affair but despite heroic Hull defence, Sale were getting a lot of ball and after 54 minutes, their forwards combined well from a lineout to get number eight Priestly-Nangle over for a try converted by centre Curtis.
Hull had a couple of clear cut chances to score again after two tremendous break outs from defence with surging runs by back row men Cowen -Leak and Alex Todd just failing at the last moment to find supporting players leaving the scores still tied at 12-12 as the clock ticked down.
A series of penalties enabled Sale to encamp on Hull’s line and after 75 minutes substitute Brown touched down with Curtis’s conversion seeing Sale home with an audible sigh of relief and Hull with only a bonus point to show for a sterling performance.