If anything is to be taken from a second heavy Hull FC defeat of the season, it’s that the current Super League top two are miles ahead of everyone else.
Yes the Airlie Birds rested players, but so did St Helens, and they were bigger, stronger, faster and more skilful, recording a 62-16 victory to end Lee Radford’s purple Easter Monday run in pretty embarrassing fashion.
Historically speaking Hull have done okay during this period of the season, but here they looked lethargic and fatigued, despite a promising opening ten minutes which saw the side go 10-0 up. Early on Hull looked good. Two superb tries followed either side of a glorious Marc Sneyd 40/20, with Joe Westerman and Carlos Tuimavave touching down. There was no indication then to what was to follow, but then St Helens got a mountain of possession and therefore got a roll on. They were piggy backed downfield by numerous penalties and were clinical when they got favourable territory. Posting points was never a problem. They were bang at it.
St Helens were awesome and the gulf was obviously telling, but Hull just got worse and worse, and there’s little explanation to why that was, other than the quality of the opposition. At times there was a glimmer of hope, but the two disallowed tries for Ratu Naulago hit the side hard and the heads dropped after that. At the time a 30-16 score line soon became the end result of 62-16, but it’s no excuse and it’s certainly not acceptable.
You can’t sugarcoat it or make excuses either. It’s the second time this season that Hull have conceded over 60-points in a match and we are only 12 rounds in, but the competitive nature of Super League means a win over Wakefield next week and a favourable result in the Wigan vs Castleford game and Hull are third. Mental, and hardly then a cause to throw the book at the side or go into meltdown mode. This was poor though and some of the defence wasn’t easy on the eye. There’s a justification for some criticism, the performance wasn’t good enough, and in hindsight we’re all sure things might have been done differently.
As we all know, five key players were rested for the Easter Monday clash with the likes of Cameron Scott, Brad Fash and Chris Green thrown in for their first appearance of the season. Jordan Thompson was also recalled, alongside the returning Ratu Naulago. It was a tough day for all. Scott found it really difficult both with and without the ball, but he’s still a teenager and he’ll learn from it. Green too struggled on his comeback, understandable after so many months out, Thompson made no impact, and Fash also hit the wall, with Dean Hadley offering little as well.
To single out individuals though is harsh. It’s a team game after all and to concede 62-points tells you there’s holes across the side. Even Connor despite his talent was guilty of poor defensive plays. He didn’t look fluent in the fullback position and maybe again with hindsight a better option would have been to play him in the centre with Connor Wynne at fullback.
Perplexing somewhat, as the Airlie Birds’ start to the game was encouraging but once Saints upped through the gears they were unstoppable. That’s an indication to them as a side right now. They’re red hot. England international Jonny Lomax was outstanding for Saints, he scored two tries and had a hand in everything. Elsewhere stand in winger Adam Swift managed a hat-trick, and Kevin Naiqama got four. Everything they did came off. They played fast, direct and with quality. Hull couldn’t live with them.
The challenge now is bridge the gap between such opposition and obviously that will be helped when Hull finally get their full strength side on the field. Even then though to create a scalp will be difficult, but anything can happen in a one-off game, as Catalans proved in the Cup last year. That’s what we’re getting at when we say it’s not catastrophic. Sure it hurts and it’s frustrating as hell when you lose by such a margin, but in a play-off scenario you know it’s not all over, but then again what are our realistic expectations for this season? To make the play-offs, then sign big for next season, and go at silverware again in 2020?
Achievable. This result is worrying though and we get where people come from. It’s not a result you want your club tarnished with, not when you back them every week to the ends of the earth. It’s embarrassing, it really is. Defensively things just got more sinister as the game went on. A polar opposite to what happened against the old enemy on Good Friday, where they capitulated like a Jamie Peacock five-year plan.
One struggles to find positives from the debacle. The biggest was the full-time whistle. Then again young Jez Litten got his first ever try for the club, that was a good moment, but until he becomes eighteen stone and makes 1,000,000 tackles a game, some people will clearly take time to warm to him. For what it’s worth he looked dangerous when he scoots. That pace is always going to cause oppositions problems. Carlos Tuimavave did little wrong, and Albert Kelly too was full of effort but like his team-mates found the afternoon frustrating. Joe Westerman didn’t get long enough on the field, neither did Scott Taylor, whereas Mark Minichiello had a dig despite missing parts of the game with a knock, but saying that Saints targeted our two back rowers. They’re not the most mobile and the home sides speed was a nightmare to deal with. Something to think about in off-season recruitment, for sure.
Besides Lomax, Lochlan Coote was good and Joesph Paulo impressed us. Maybe there’s a scoop to these big money signings after all. UTC still maintains Hull FC will be a top five club, but to win more silverware in the future, maybe we’ll have to listen to Humberside Jim and magic a marquee out of somewhere. Who’s got a wand?
Roll on Wakefield next week…
St Helens Starting XIII: 23. Lochlan Coote, 18. Adam Swift, 3. Kevin Naiqama, 2. Tommy Makinson, 5. Regan Grace, 1. Jonny Lomax, 7. Danny Richardson, 10. Luke Thompson, 9. James Roby, 19. Matty Lees, 15. Morgan Knowles, 25. Joe Batchelor, 12. Joesph Paulo. Interchange: 16. Kyle Amor, 17. Dominic Peyroux, 20. Jack Ashworth, 29. Jack Welsby.
St Helens Tries: Lomax 2, Naiqama 4, Swift 3, Lomax, Welsby. Goals: Coote 8/9, Richardson 1/2.
Hull Starting XIII: 14. Jake Connor, 33. Ratu Naulago, 3. Carlos Tuimavave, 32. Cameron Scott, 2. Bureta Faraimo, 6. Albert Kelly, 7. Marc Sneyd, 8. Scott Taylor, 11. Dean Hadley, 19. Masimbaashe Matongo, 21. Sika Manu, 12. Mark Minichiello, 13. Joe Westerman. Interchange: 15. Chris Green, 16. Jordan Thompson, 20. Brad Fash, 28. Jez Litten.
Hull Tries: Westerman, Tuimavave, Litten. Goals: Sneyd 2/3
Hull 3-2-1 Man of the Match: 3pts Carlos Tuimavave, 2pts Jez Litten, 1pt Joe Westerman.
Scoring System: 0-6, 0-10, 6-10, 12-10, 18-10, 24-10, 30-10, 30-16, 34-16, 40-16, 46-16, 52-16, 56-16, 62-16.
Referee: Robert Hicks