Coming off the back of a record defeat, all Hull FC required was a response, and by going down 8-28 to Castleford, they got it.
Much better – but that’s like saying water is wet, the sky is blue and Hutch Maiava likes Big Macs. Many fans, including UTC, was expecting another massacre. It was anything but. There were moments when Castleford looked like pulling further ahead, but Hull showed some character to prevent that happening. They kept the score-line respectable, which exceeded expectations against an opposition side that sit third in the Super League table, and with Luke Gale, who has ditched the cap now he has an almost full head of hair, back in the side.
It’s fair to say Hull’s senior blokes stood up after that catastrophic display at Warrington, and they at least had some fight back in the jersey. But with the grim reaper lurking over their shoulders you’d expect nothing less. Adam Pearson strongly advocated that there will be departures post-season. You can only speculate on who those departures will be so we’ll leave that for the Facebook forums, but there were one or two displays out there that were massively improved. For one Sika Manu, who showed something of his old self and not the pudding he’s been like in recent weeks. Jamie Shaul was full of effort as usual, Danny Washbrook gave it a crack too it must be said, and Dean Hadley, whilst admirably so never stopped grafting, actually went a full game without going off injured so that’s a minor miracle in itself.
The game star for UTC though was Hakim Miloudi – he was outstanding. Miloudi returned to the field after an early knock by pantomime villain Liam Watts and produced a classy display. His energy was great throughout and he showed a clean pair of heels to race away for his try. There’s a player there. The challenge is sort him out off the field. That’s why he hasn’t played, well allegedly, which influx’s frustration as the talent is apparent every time he pulls on the jersey. Running down the wing for me, he’s arguably deserves a spot in every match-day squad, and will continue to do so if his application is right. Staying post-match for a considerable amount of time to pose for selfies with fans is a good start. The French madhouse was loving it.
Jez Litten also added a spark when he came on. The young hooker was much quicker coming out of the blocks and the rest of the side responded. There’s a massive future there. Elsewhere Cameron Scott put in a more matured display in only his fourth first grade appearance, whilst Jordan Lane and Masimbaashe Matongo had their moments, the latter having his best game in quite a while.
Hull’s effort was never in question, but reality tells you it was a Castleford side that didn’t break out of first gear and who by the time the home side had a spark about them, were already 28-0 ahead. It was ultimately another tough night for the Black and Whites but it’s at least something to build on. There was some character shown and some bottle in defence. Effort was there. That’s all we can ask, especially when you look to the sidelines and see half of the salary cap in the stands. That excuses some of creativity problems observed in the first half, but again you could argue that’s whilst Castleford had their foot on the gas. Second half they coasted with the game won.
You can’t get away from that current predicament that Hull are enduring. Injuries don’t excuse leaking 80-points, and some of the results throughout 2018, but they have definitely derailed our season. That performance though was more like it and a level of desire we didn’t see last week. Supporters get that this scenario tests your character and mental resolve, but we want to see players giving it a go. We got that. On that note, it’s worth mentioning Lewis Bienek too who put in a right shift and proved there’s a future for him at this level. He’s a big lad and put that size about against a solid but not necessarily spectacular Castleford team.
What impressed me in the final twenty minutes was Hull’s tendency to try something different. This side right now with no points to play for have the luxury to do that and we saw some unorthodox plays that almost came off. Carlos Tuimavave’s try was a brilliant sequence of rugby league and as mentioned Miloudi showed some pace to score his. There could have been more too, but some errors creeped in. One would rather Hull played that style of rugby though than play conservatively when the result is effectively meaningless. At least the side, despite missing its four most creative players, had the balls to do that. So fair play. Something to build on at least, and if Hull show that same level of effort and desire, then a home win against Catalans is very possible.
That’s got to be the goal now, as no-one wants to go into the winter months on the back of eleven potentially straight defeats. There were positives here that suggest Hull can do it against a Catalans side that won’t blow up too many trees now that the Challenge Cup is there’s.
Back to Friday night though and this at least was an improvement. There’s obviously a long way to go but at least we’re not talking about another mullering, and given recent times that’s got to be considered a positive.
Hull Starting XIII: 1. Jamie Shaul, 2. Bureta Faraimo, 3. Carlos Tuimavave, 30. Cameron Scott, 5. Fetuli Talanoa, 28. Hakim Miloudi, 35. Liam Harris, 8. Scott Taylor, 9. Danny Houghton, 29. Masimbaashe Matongo, 17. Danny Washbrook, 11. Dean Hadley, 21. Sika Manu. Interchange: 36. Lewis Bienek, 20. Brad Fash, 26. Jordan Lane, 22. Jez Litten.
Hull Tries: Tuimavave, Miloudi. Goals: Faraimo 0/2
Hull 3-2-1 Man of the Match: 3pts Hakim Miloudi, 2pts Jez Litten, 1pt Jamie Shaul
Castleford Starting XIII: 36. Peter Mata’utia, 26. James Clare, 16. Joe Wardle, 4. Michael Shenton, 5. Greg Eden, 21. Jake Trueman, 7. Luke Gale, 32. Liam Watts, 9. Paul McShane, 10. Grant Millington, 11. Oliver Holmes, 12. Mike McMeeken, 14. Nathan Massey. Interchange: 1. Ben Roberts, 8. Junior Moors, 13. Adam Milner, 23. Mitch Clark.
Castleford Tries: McMeeken, Moors, Eden 2, Clare. Goals: Gale 4/5
Scoring System: 0-6, 0-12, 0-18, 0-24, 0-28, 4-28, 8-28.
Referee: Gareth Hewer
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