Hull's Head Coach, John Widdowson, was disappointed because Hull, who have played exceptional rugby lately, beating all sides above them since Christmas, did not play with the same precision and consistency that has been so evident for the last three months. He felt his side were unable to establish their own pattern of play on the game which meant it was going to be all the more difficult to fashion the victory in this highly charged 'Derby' atmosphere. Hull's defence performed heroics as Ionians dominated possession helped along by a string of penalties against them.
Ionians were in determined mood not to be drawn back into the bottom three of the Division and they played with an intensity that eventually won the day. Their forwards with No. 8 Sanders and flanker Wood prominent were quickly into their stride. The half-backs kicked well from the hand and always tried to keep the ball in areas where they could arrive in time to retrieve their own kicks.
Nevertheless, Hull had their moments and despite the pressure they endured they led at half time and were not behind again until the 63rd minute and even then had a chance to regain the lead but a penalty against them at the ruck halted a surging attack led by Ollie Cook, Hull's experienced ball playing No. 8.
The conditions militated against a really open game from the start and after forays from both sides it was Hull's James Cameron who opened the scoring with a good penalty after 7 minutes. Ionians response was swift when after a period of concerted pressure Hull's normally solid defensive line was caught out and the home side's full-back Bateman made no mistake as he sped through the gap for a good try after eleven minutes with off-half Boyd kicking an easy conversion. Hull hit back within a minute and Cameron's unerring boot put Hull within a point.
Hull now had one of their best periods in the game after nineteen minutes they looked certain to score with a concerted attack from a lineout 5 yards out but the home side defended well and the chance was lost.
Ionians set up the same attack but were similarly denied and when they moved the ball wide, some laboured handling saw Wigglesworth intercept and run the length of the field to score under the posts, giving Cameron the easiest of conversions. Ionians were now enjoying plenty of possession but dropped passes in the wet conditions meant that the only other score in the first half was another penalty for Hull from the trusty boot of Cameron giving Hull a half time lead of 16-7.
The second half saw Hull under immediate pressure and as Ionians hammered away at the Hull line their hooker Rice scrambled over for a try which went unconverted. Ionians in truth should have gone ahead in the fifty-third minute but with a three man overlap a pass went to ground and the chance was lost. However, the pressure was maintained and a series of forward drives saw Kench force his way near the posts but the conversion was unaccountably missed.
Hull now substituted ther hard-working back-row Devonshire with Maka and despite the pressure they had endured Hull began to regroup and a surging run by Cook saw Hull in a threatening position after 70 minutes but the ball went too slowly from the ruck and another penalty saw Hull forced back.
With the clock running down and both sides using some of their substitutes, it seemed Hull might attack again from a lineout deep in their own half. A not straight decision which was the very model of inconsistency saw Ionians regain possession and their hard-working No. 8 Sanders romped over for the final try of the game. The missed conversion was one of several kickable chances Ionians missed.
Hull's bitter disappointment was apparent at the final whistle but a dip in form came at the wrong time and long winning runs, sadly, always have to come to an end.
Match Report by Richard Gore.