Hull FC are through to the Challenge Cup quarter-finals, thanks to a bad tempered 38-20 victory away at Featherstone Rovers.
Here are Five Things Up the Cream learned.
1.. Job done, even at a cost
All week we were told the Cup tie at Featherstone would be tough, but that wasn’t the case in the first half. To their credit Hull raced into a comfortable lead despite losing Josh Bowden and Carlos Tuimavave, and of course Fetuli Talanoa after the break. That commendable performance also transpired into the second half until shithousery took centre stage.
Once the home side realised they couldn’t handle the Black and Whites, they attempted to win a fight instead. It spoiled the contest, and once the Hull players realised referee Scott Mikaluaskas didn’t have the bottle to do anything about it, they lost their discipline and took matters into their own hands. Not ideal, but I can certainly appreciate why they took that route.
But focusing on the positives, the rugby Hull initially played was decent. They controlled the game despite going down like flies, and are in the next round having played the majority of the game with one half back and limited rotation. Fair play to the lads there.
2.. Connor runs the show again
There’s never any doubt to the talents of Jake Connor who remains an outstanding rugby league player. He needs to lead the side around the field during the absence of Albert Kelly and Marc Sneyd and he did just that. He’s a gifted individual that has freakish skill sets. Makes the basics seem so easy too and had a hand in everything good Hull did.
Doing what he does best he wound the opposition up yet again, which in truth probably contributed somewhat to Fev losing their heads late on, but there’s a fine line between verbal’s and shoving a forearm in someone’s face.
With the ball he oozed class, from looping passes, support play and general kicking. Connor was a natural in the seven role, sensational at times, and will need to replicate that same level of authority at the Magic Weekend next week.
3.. Westy back with a bang
The old school loose forward position is something I love in rugby league. Sean O’Loughlin has mastered it at Wigan for years and years and Joe Westerman is the closest thing around to the Pie eating star. He’s a player alright – an absolute baller and someone we can shape our attack around.
Once Hull get Albey back on the field he’ll look even better too. A middle unit of distribution that enhances our attacking shape, and can pass from first receiver or roll his sleeve up and do the hard yards.
Westerman was sensational at Featherstone, and followed on superbly from an off-the-bench appearance against Cas last week. The stats do their own talking, 16 carries, 126 metres, 2 offloads, 1 try assist, 25 tackles and played the full 80 minutes. Welcome back.
4.. Bring back the biff – or not
Rugby League is a tough old game and I like that side to it, but there’s a fine line and that was overstepped on Thursday night. It was a shambles – actually embarrassing for the sport.
A lot of onus has to be placed on the man with the whistle, and you can place some responsibility on the players too, but they’re only human, and I’m not surprised the incompetence on show made them lash out. Discipline is paramount in our game, and Hull FC lost theirs. Jamie Shaul was stupid to pull back a Fev player and deserved his sin bin, and we can’t complain with Bureta Faraimo’s send-off either, but Danny Washbrook’s yellow was harsh as was Jake Connor’s.
It all transpired after the Taulapapa/Shaul incident and just seemed to get worse from there. Mikalauskas did nothing to prevent what happened and had no control over the game.
You can argue Hull’s players should have remained more professional, and what occurred was a farce, but when you’ve got an opposition actively trying to take your head off, what are you going to do?
5.. Injuries take their toll
Already missing Albert Kelly, Marc Sneyd, Mickey Paea, Brad Fash, Jordan Abdull and Jack Logan, the last thing Hull needed was further blows, but their woes were comprehended during the game as Josh Bowden, Carlos Tuimavave and Fetuli Talanoa all went off due to injury.
It was a nightmare situation and Lee Radford will be literally calling on the full extent of his squad for the Magic Weekend – unless our rehab team can produce a Danny McGuire like miracle.
The three lads that went off injured are unlikely to feature against Rovers, with Faraimo likely to be suspended too. That means Hakim Miloudi will probably feature, as well as youngster Cameron Scott, recalled on loan at Dewsbury and could be in line for a competitive debut.
Time will tell on severity, but Bowden left the game in a knee brace, Tuimavave has an ankle problem as does Talanoa. It doesn’t get any easier.