Such is the norm right now, every good Hull FC performance is backed up by a shocker, and that was the case again on Friday night as Catalans eased to a 6-37 win at the KCOM Stadium.
The French side were slick and good value for their victory, but Hull FC were poor, and it comes at a consequence, with the Airlie Birds moving back down to fifth place with Salford, Wigan and the like breathing down their necks. The Super League competition this year is tight, the race for the play-offs will go down right until the final regular season round, and you’d imagine this ‘picking and choosing’ when to play could well bite Hull on the arse. They didn’t turn up here – it was another pathetic performance, a third of the season so far, and one that leaves a pretty glum feeling across many of the fan base.
That’s probably due to the fact that these occurrences are becoming all too familiar. They’re unwanted, they’re painful and sadly to the casual fan they diminish their desire to come back to a soulless bowl and watch Hull FC. Harsh facts and reflected in the crowd on Friday. The Black and Whites need to be bang at it next week – a Cup game against Castleford – and then return to form again in Super League. Whether or not they can do that on a week to week basis though is a mystery, and that’s where frustration comes from with these inconsistencies. When it comes to the Black and Whites you literally don’t know what you’re going to get. Take the four last results for instance – a record drubbing over Rovers, than a gloomy 62-point hammering at St Helens, followed by a tough and well-deserved win against Wakefield, to this.
There’s a pattern developing there and it coincides with who is out on the field. There’s a realisation that some players are not good enough to play for Hull FC, or haven’t got the mental capacity to see it out when the going gets tough. The local rag took a lot of stick for a bad-tasted article mid-week, but they are not wrong when they say several members of the squad will be shown the door at the end of the year. This performances proves why – and some of them probably know that already.
There was little to clutch at in times of positives. It was well-documented that Hull were missing 16 players, a figure that actually rose up to 17 when Liam Harris pulled up, but does it excuse what was served up? You have to question the side when there’s a lack of energy, intensity, and you get a performance as flat as that. Head coach Lee Radford described it as painful and he’s not wrong. It was just that. There was a clear indication here to how important players like Albert Kelly and in-particular Marc Sneyd are to the side. You can say the same for Jamie Shaul and Carlos Tuimavave too. There’s also an apparent need for the returns of Josh Bowden and Andre Savelio as well. Hull looked weak in the middle, they were short on ideas in attack, last tackle options were poor, and they were dominated all over the field.
Of the 17 players out, only around half of them would have actually made a difference, but Catalans had several key men out too, and were expertly marshalled around by experiencedpivot Sam Tomkins, who was outstanding on the night. Tony Gigot was also impressive from fullback in a side that featured ten French-born players. That’s what you call expansion, a team that won the Challenge Cup last year and has a core fan-base in the South of France. There’s a lot to admire about Catalans, even if only for the piss up when we play them away. They’re firmly part of Super League now, and are deservedly fourth in the comp.
The injury thing is a complete utter ballache, and is really disrupting our season, but it also serves up a reminder of the holes in our squad. We knew that though before a ball was kicked, that’s why we brought Gareth Ellis out of retirement and signed Savelio from Brisbane. It’s relevant of course, but doesn’t excuse everything. Of those that impressed in a Black and White shirt, you can look no further than Mickey Paea. The big Tongan clearly had a rocket thrown up his arse after his Reserve outing against Wakefield as he’s been the Mickey of old ever since. The prop has been impressive for weeks on end despite nursing a bang or two and deserves his praises. Josh Griffin also tried hard and got through a lot of work in yardage, whereas a debut was also given to Kieran Buchanan, who did himself proud. He was one of few who could hold their head up at full-time, easing himself into the fixture with some strong carries and good ability in the air.
On the contrary young fullback Connor Wynne had a nightmare, and it’s a performance he must learn from. We all remember Martyn Gleeson schooling a young Kirk Yeaman at St Helens and look at the career Kirk had. Wynne must take that one on the chin and move on. He’s showed enough promise in the four games prior to suggest there’s something there. Of the senior folk Jake Connor was surprisingly disappointing, getting himself sin-binned for dissent, and baring one pass to Paea, not threatening much in attack. It’s easy to point a half out though when there’s nothing to work with. Credit Catalans there – they dealt with Hull at ease and looked good in the process. In the forwards there was a gulf. Sam Kasiano came on and was intimidating. Hull couldn’t deal with his threat and before then the likes of Scott Taylor and co couldn’t get a foot hold – despite an okay start. Similar to Saints away then when the bar was raised, we were left behind. The longer it went the worse it got too. Some of the lack of ideas were a reminder of the Agar era. That’s how bad it got.
With the play-off system though, it’s a result that’s not catastrophic, but it’s one that is certainly frustrating. These types of performances need to be abolished quickly. They have the potential to derail an assault on the top five, but there’s also the knowledge that things will improve more consistently when the same blokes are avoiding injury and staying on the field together – sadly young Connor Wynne might have developed his first grey hair by the time that happens. Oh well, it’s only knockout rugby league next week.
Hull Starting XIII: 36. Connor Wynne, 2. Bureta Faraimo, 24. Jack Logan, 4. Josh Girffin, 38. Keiran Buchanan, 13. Joe Westerman, 14. Jake Connor, 8. Scott Taylor, 9. Danny Houghton, 23. Mickey Paea, 21. Sika Manu, 12. Mark Minichiello, 34. Gareth Ellis. Interchange: 15. Chris Green, 16. Jordan Thompson, 19. Masimbaashe Matongo, 20. Brad Fash.
Hull Tries: Paea. Goals: Connor 1/1
Hull 3-2-1 Man of the Match: Clutching at straws but, 3pts Mickey Paea, 2pts Josh Griffin, 1pt Kieran Buchanan.
Catalans Starting XIII: 1. Tony Gigot, 25. Arthur Romano, 6. Samisoni Langi, 4. Brayden Wiliame, 27. Fouad Yaha, 13. Greg Bird, 29. Sam Tomkins, 8. Remi Casti, 18. Alrix Da Costa, 10. Sam Moa, 17. Matt Whitley, 19. Mickael Goudemand, 24. Jason Baitieri. Interchange: 14. Julian Bousquet, 20. Lambert Belmas, 22. Lucas Albert, 28. Sam Kasiano.
Catalans Tries: Yaha, Gigot, Wiliame, Romano, Whitley, Langi. Goals: Tomkins 6/7. Drop Goal: Gigot
Scoring System: 0-2, 6-2, 6-8, 6-12, 6-18, 6-24, 6-30, 6-31, 6-37
Referee: Ben Thaler