Madness. Utter madness. On a crazy night Hull FC scored twelve tries to kick-start their Challenge Cup defence against arguably the worst Catalans side of their short and colourful history.
Lets be honest the game was won when the two squads were announced on Wednesday afternoon. Hull were almost shoe ins for victory, yet few people would have predicted a romp like that. Yeah the Black and Whites played some good stuff but the Catalans outfit were abysmal and surrendered quicker than French infantry forces leaving Spain in the Napoleonic Wars.
Down on troops thanks to an unprecedented injury crisis, the Perpignan based side were hopeless. They knew they were beaten, their attitude and body language were atrocious in a hyped up, and hopefully not highly pre-ordered cup kit. Imagine the awkwardness as fans head out to the Stade de Brutus store to buy that over the next few days. Never-the-less Hull did well to post the points on them but it wasn’t exactly difficult, but then again you can only play what’s in front of you, and FC had some outstanding contributions amongst their ranks yet again.
For all Catalans’ absentees they still had their first choice front row and the way Scott Taylor and in particular Liam Watts tore them apart was superb. Watts was remarkable at times and fresh thanks to five weeks sat out with bans, he’s only going to get better as the season progresses. In truth the whole squad had the beating on their opposition – many of which Lee Radford, who had no problem in admitting, had to google before the match.
Steve Michaels beat Fouad Yaha for three spectacular finishes, in-particular a sublime hat-trick try. Jamie Shaul’s prolific form continued with another two tries, whereas Jansin Turgut, Albert Kelly and Jake Connor also excelled.
It was a blitz from the first whistle. Hull got a role on and Catalans couldn’t live with it. Michaels crossed for the games first score, with Josh Griffin soon adding a second. Mahe Fonua then crossed for a third, with Sneyd unusually missing his first three attempts.
Not everything went as planned for the home outfit though. They lost Griffin to a head knock after bouncing his head off the ground, and Fonua to injury. Turgut also left the field with a knock, but soon rejoined the action. With rotation limited this probably paid more testament to the result, but seriously Catalans were horrendous.
Hull, on a wet night after pre-game showers, continued to play an expansive brand of footy. Their forwards were punching holes all over their opponents defence and it wasn’t look before Watts coasted through the line to score. Some slick hands then put Michaels in before Scott Taylor added a sixth try for a 28-0 half time lead.
The second half didn’t shy away from the routine and Michaels soon landed his hat-trick try. Despite a suspision of a forward pass Turgut then crossed off a Houghton pass, before Jordan Thompson scored off a miraculous Kelly offload. Shaul then got a quick fire try brace, the second of which was again set up by Hull’s maverick half back, to take the Wembley winners tally to ten for the season.
Summing up the manner of the game Jake Connor got the games final try, scoring down the blindside at ease to complete the rout, putting Hull into the Quarter Final draw on Saturday as their Cup campaign started with a bang.
Hull Starting XIII: 1. Jamie Shaul, 2. Mahe Fonua, 14. Jake Connor, 4. Josh Griffin, 19. Steve Michaels, 6. Albert Kelly, 7. Marc Sneyd, 8. Scott Taylor, 9. Danny Houghton, 10. Liam Watts, 25. Jansin Turgut, 12. Mark Minichiello, 15. Chris Green. Interchange: 22. Josh Bowden, 16. Jordan Thompson, 17. Danny Washbrook, 28. Brad Fash.
Hull Tries: Michaels 3, Griffin, Fonua, Watts, Taylor, Turgut, Thompson, Shaul 2, Connor. Goals: Sneyd 2/7, Connor 5/5
Hull 3-2-1 Man of the Match: 3pts Liam Watts, 2pts Steve Michaels, 1pt Jamie Shaul.
Catalans Starting XIII: 22. Lucas Albert, 18. Vincent Dupourt, 21. Iain Thornley, 30. Arthur Romano, 5. Fouad Yaha, 6. Luke Walsh, 7. Richard Myler, 8. Sam Moa, 23. Alrix Da Costa, 10. Remi Casty, 14. Jullien Bousquet, 27. Ugo Perez, 26. Lambert Belmas. Interchange: 19. Mikael Simon, 24, Paul Seguier, 25. Thibaut Margalet, 29. Matthieu Khedimi.
Catalans Tries: N/A. Goals: N/A
Scoring System: 4-0, 8-0, 12-0, 18-0, 22-0, 28-0, 32-0, 38-0, 44-0, 50-0, 56-0, 62-0.
Referee: Ben Thaler