Hull FC produced their best performance of the season to beat Warrington 27-14 in the Super League play-offs on Thursday night.
Here is Up the Cream’s Five Things….
1.. A long overdue statement of intent
It was not before time, but Hull FC have finally showed a glimpse of what they can be capable of. That was a level we have not seen in nine long months and it was bloody brilliant.
The win at Warrington was Hull’s fourth victory in a row, with five coming from the past six games, but this occasion against one of Super League’s heavyweights didn’t leave anything to be desired.
Hull didn’t rue missed opportunity to scrape past the dross of the competition nor ponder on soft defence. Instead they were classy with ball in hand and tough without it. They were on song from minute one in a high quality game showing pride in defence and invention in attack. The forwards were excellent, and both the half and fullback were sublime. More on them later.
It was a massive contrast to the dross we saw in September. Hull showed a desire to defend their line and a desire to run at their opposition and sit them on their backside. Those extra little efforts that seem a bit simple, but that make the world of difference, were there in abundance.
It was the sort of performance we were promised in 2020 and the sort that justifies the criticism. Where has that been all year? Hull were absolutely outstanding and well worth their win. That was much more like it.
2.. Sniper Sneyd
Another day. Another influential Marc Sneyd performance. Two Lance Todd Trophies isn’t enough for the Iceman, who has continued to produce the goods to the present day. He’s won Hull more games than times Phil Clarke makes us say the f-word, guides the side around the field majestically and barks instructions out like every proper half back should. The most important at the club bar none.
When Sneyd plays well, Hull play well, and when Hull play well, Sneyd plays well. Off the back of a pack who more than played their part, Sneyd’s kicking game was outstanding, whilst he controlled things at first receiver, contrary to opinion actually showing his passing skills and ability to engage the line. Scenes.
It should all come as no surprise. It’s nothing new, Hull lose and he’s shite, Hull win and he’s class, but Sneyd is the man for the big occasion and these games are his playground.
3.. Connor the fullback
Jake Connor could be the best fullback Super League didn’t even know it had. Just ask the brilliant Bureta Faraimo who went all season without a try and now has five in his last four games, the majority of which have been put on a plate by the passing or kicking of Jake the Snake.
Playing in the halves during Hull’s worst displays this year has been tough for Connor, but at fullback there’s no pressure on him. Instead there is a freedom. That freedom has stuck out like a sore thumb recently. He’s been sensational.
Hull look miles better with their Snake at the back. It has added an extra dimension to the attack, whilst he has shown no weaknesses in defence either. He’s one of the most naturally talented players in the comp and right now he’s full of confidence. It’s mental now to even consider moving him.
4.. Tongan Sauce
Whilst the craft of the creative players was most notable, the Tongan Terminator Manu Ma’u arguably had his best game for Hull FC against Warrington. He was everywhere.
The Big Tongan Chris Satae was outstanding too. His arrival onto the pitch with Samoan middle man Ligi Sao swung a balanced game into Hull’s favour. Their carries left Warrington blokes on the deck and that gave Sneyd and co the time to put the pressure on with more plays and their excellent last tackle kicking options.
The forwards, particularly the Tongan forwards, were almost faultless and provided a stern impact from either the start or off the bench.
Amongst the imports, a shout out must also go to the beacon of energy that is Joe Cator. What a first season that lad has had.
5.. Andy Last
Interim head coach Andy Last has made no secret of his desire for the Hull FC job on a permanent basis. He’s not everyone’s cup of tea, but he’s fighting every week to make his case.
Off the field he comes across as a really decent bloke and to his credit he has got on with the cards he has been dealt and has never moaned once. On the field though results and performances haven’t been perfect, with individual quality bailing out questionable structures on more than one occasion.
However, and whilst it has gone hand in hand with the quality of the opposition, recent results have steadily improved. To stuff Cas, well to stuff anyone, is pleasing, and with an easy Derby win and now a sublime victory at Wire, is Last worth a shot?
Go on then? Or steady on, mate? Of course we have been here before and one swallow does not make a
summer winter, but if the performance is there again at Wigan, then you could say that the players are finally responding to Last, and if so, then it doesn’t matter what we think.
Covid too could help him, and that’s with the greatest of respect. There’s no clarity right now on next year and that may well play into Last’s hands. That and how the players show up next week.