Quins RL yesterday continued their unbeaten start to the season with a comfortable victory away to Super League new boys Hull Kingston Rovers. The Quins suffered a bout of illness running through the camp in the build-up to the game, disrupting training during the week, but still had enough quality to run out 10 – 26 winners at New Craven Park.
Chris Melling, who has been a revelation at full back since joining the club pre-season, grabbed the first try of the game after just two minutes following a knock-on by Hull KR forward Mark O’Neill, with Paul Sykes adding the conversion. Hull KR almost managed an immediate reply, with desperate defence required to keep out second rower Iain Morrison.
Fifteen minutes later forward Jon Grayshon went over for the second try after good work from Danny Orr, again Sykes tacked on the conversion. With twenty three minute gone interchange hooker Julien Rinaldi created the opening for young prop Louis McCarthy-Scarsbrook to power over for the Quins third try, Sykes conversion pushing the score out to 0 – 18.
Hull KR finally registered on the scoreboard after twenty nine minutes, with winger Luke Dyer touching down, unfortunately for the Robins the usually reliable Gareth Morton’s conversion attempt drifting off target. With three minutes left to half-time Quins extended their lead with a try from centre Sykes, who this time was unable to convert his own effort, sending the sides in 4 – 22.
A try from former Kiwi test forward Michael Smith pulled the scores closer just after the break, with Gareth Morton this time adding the conversion. Despite a lot of hard work from the home side in the second half they were unable to put any further points on the board and the final score of the afternoon was to be Paul Sykes second try eight minutes from time.
Overall the Quins will be very pleased with the result given the less than ideal build-up and it was also positive to see former skipper Mark McLinden make his return from the injury off the interchange bench. The return of McLinden and the possible availability of new signing Richard Villasanti will no doubt provide a welcome selection dilemma for Brian McDemott for next Saturday’s home game against the Warrington Wolves, who scraped a narrow win at home against last season runners-up Hull FC courtesy of a Lee Briers drop-goal.
What is becoming clear from the opening games of the season is that the partnership of Tony Rea and Brian McDermott appears to be paying dividends on the field. Danny Orr has been outstanding at half-back in the opening games, whilst the decision of Wigan to release Chris Melling in favour of ageing fullback Michael Withers looks not only extremely short-sighted but faintly ridiculous. The range of creative options Quins now have through Orr, Hill, Rinaldi, McLinden, Paul and Purdham appears to be reducing the pressure on any single player to carry the team, whilst McDermott’s authoritarian coaching regime appears to be instilling a resilience and stamina missing at times during recent seasons.
Hull KR: (4) 10
Tries: Dyer, Smith
Harlequins RL: (22) 26
Tries: Melling, Grayshon, McCarthy-Scaysbrook, Sykes 2
Goals: Sykes 3