Talk about roller coasters and playing with emotions – Hull FC in 2019, you want to get the pitchforks out one week and shag um the next. There’s no-in between. It’s chaos. A Magic Weekend mullering to smashing the Challenge Cup holders 51-8 just four days later. Madness. Complete and utter madness.
The Airlie Birds this season are as bipolar as it gets. What happened in Liverpool last Saturday was an absolute disgrace and of course you question why that display comes out now and again, but wow what a response. Hull got through a close first half to absolutely smash Catalans in the second, who it must be said have been bang in form recently, but who were no match for a firing FC. That was a statement – Hull showed some character as they did following similar shaftings earlier in the season. At times Hull were brilliant, both with and without the ball, but now there’s the worry, what will we get next week?
Well on that front there’s seven Super League games before the Challenge Cup semi-final and Hull must keep their heads more than not to keep hold of the grip on the top five. Can they get away with being so consistently inconsistent? As crazy as it sounds probably. But it’s a dangerous game. The mental thing is we know we’ll see that level of display again this year, but then on the contrary they’ll also be one or two games where you’ll want to pull all your hair out and down a bottle of vodka. *Insert your best Forest Gump voice* Hull FC are like a box of chocolates, you never know what you’re gonna get. He’s not wrong.
Against Catalans the defence from Hull scrambled to effect and the attack was on point. It is mad to pin all that on Danny Houghton’s return? Well it plays a part, but clearly there was some fire in the belly here unlike against Huddersfield and little trouble came when keeping the opposition out. From the beneficiary of having an actual hooker Hull excelled in attack. They posted early points but then Catalans came back, and half time was probably what they needed. From then on the home side took the French one to the cleaners and played some great stuff.
Marc Sneyd, the man for the big occasion, delivered. As usual during high pressure occasions he had the game in his back pocket. His left boot did the talking. He’s brilliant isn’t he. Calm and composed, there’s no English half back capable of controlling rugby league matches like Sneyd, who still finds accolades outside of the city boundary hard to come by. Not that he cares, and neither should we, as we know what we’ve got, and that’s a man capable of turning games on their head to win silverware. History doesn’t lie.
Sneyd ran the show, but his partner in crime Albert Kelly was also sensational. The best things in life are free and they get better and better when you treat them right. Kelly was magic. His try was top class and he had a hand in several others as he ran Catalans ragged. There’s fewer better on our shores, he’s a magnificent player, still producing the goods into his third season at the club.
Then there’s the find of the millennium in Ratu Naulago, who got two tries on the night and was finally put in the clear to show his speed by Jake Connor. The Fijian flyer has become a right cult hero in these parts now. He’s a humble human being too. Undoubted potential, still raw, but always learning and there’s already a desire to see him signed up for 2020 and beyond. Hopefully the club can make that happen.
In the forwards Mickey Paea and Chris Green started the game like a house on fire. Their stints were potent, and Josh Bowden and Andre Savelio reinforced that early authority when they came on. It’s great to see Mickey performing so well, but there’s doubt if he’ll get a new deal, the same can be said of Green, but if they keep this level of performance up then who knows? Savelio was a welcome return too and we’re all longing for him to get a run of games in the side. The right edge was potent, Connor was back in form again, and on the other flank Mark Minichiello righted some wrongs from last week, as did Joe Westerman.
Inaugural baby-faced assassin member Jamie Shaul was solid at the back, whilst Josh Griffin, Sika Manu, Dean Hadley and Brad Fash were all significantly better. The side came together superbly – and it really makes you scratch your head after the monstrosities of the Saturday before.
On that front it’s perplexing to why Hull are so hot and cold but it’s all down to mentality surely? The mental components of our side in Liverpool were shocking but here there were bang on. Should we accept that and just trust this side to perform when it really matters? In 2016 Hull spent twelve weeks at the top to no avail, in 2017 Hull had a brief spell at the top again to no avail. In both seasons we sold ourselves short in the top four play-off. Maybe Radford in 2019 is playing the waiting game. He knows we’ll pick up wins and he knows we’ll be a play-off team. On the injury front we’ve been smart, making sure recoveries are fully made and not risking little niggles etc. That’s played a part in defeats with some weakened teams put out, but will it see its beneficiaries come September? Well that’s the million dollar question isn’t it. We’re just trying to get some understanding to our inconsistency. Our results since Easter have been barmy.
As crazy as it is for a side with three 50-point defeats to it’s name, we are still fourth in Super League and into the semi-finals of the Challenge Cup. We are right in the mix on both fronts and that’s a feat not many people predicted. You could say then that despite inconsistency we have exceeded some expectation. We’re doing okay. It’s a third Cup semi-final in four years now, this time at Bolton, and it’ll be another cracker for sure, especially if Mr Hyde continues to run about like that and Dr Jekyll keeps giving him his tonic. It sure is crazy being a Hull FC fan……
Hull Starting XIII: 1. Jamie Shaul, 33. Ratu Naulago, 14. Jake Connor, 4. Josh Griffin, 2. Bureta Faraimo, 6. Albert Kelly, 7. Marc Sneyd, 15. Chris Green, 9. Danny Houghton, 23. Mickey Paea, 21. Sika Manu, 12. Mark Minichiello, 13. Joe Westerman. Interchange: 10. Josh Bowden, 35. Andre Savelio, 11. Dean Hadley, 20. Brad Fash.
Hull Tries: Connor, Faraimo, Manu, Naulago 2, Kelly, Shaul, Houghton. Goals: Sneyd 9/9. Drop Goal: Sneyd
UTC 3-2-1 Man of the Match: 3pts Marc Sneyd, 2pts Albert Kelly, 1pt Ratu Naulago
Catalans Starting XIII: 1. Tony Gigot, 27. Fouad Yaha, 3. David Mead, 4. Brayden Wiliame, 5. Lewis Tierney, 6. Samisoni Langi, 29. Sam Tomkins, 14. Julian Bousquet, 9. Michael McIlorum, 10. Sam Moa, 17. Matt Whitley, 12. Benjamin Garcia, 8. Remi Casty. Interchange: 11. Kenny Edwards, 18. Alrix Da Costa, 24. Jason Baitieri, 28. Sam Kasiano.
Catalans Tries: Tierney 2. Goals: Tomkins 0/2
Scoring System: 6-0, 12-0, 12-4, 12-8, 14-8, 20-8, 26-8, 32-8, 33-8, 39-8, 45-8, 51-8
Referee: Ben Thaler