Hull FC edged past Huddersfield 18-16 in an unusual Tuesday evening fixture in this unusual Super League season. In the grand scheme of things it counts for little, but it’s a win next to their name despite it being far from perfect.
On his 150th appearance for the club it was fitting that one swing of Marc Sneyd’s infamous left boot earned Hull the victory, kicking a penalty goal that separated the sides late on after a close nip and tuck affair. It was a moment to mark yet another milestone night for Sniper Sneyd’s ever growing collection. He is the man who has stepped up for Hull more times than not to deliver when it matters most. He needs no introduction and continues to produce the goods to the present day despite playing in a side that are a shadow of their former self.
Still with nothing but pride to play for it’s a welcome win and whilst they all count it’s nothing to shout too loud about when you’re mid-table after a less then favourable run of results. In a tea time kick off the game actually flashed by. It wasn’t high on quality but it flowed throughout and was a tight contest from minute one to eighty. There’s a big onus on Hull for it panning out like that – the Black and Whites never put daylight between themselves and the opposition, despite having the majority of possession and therefore field position. In fact Hull proper bossed the first half but they didn’t get the scoreboard ticking as much as they should have.
The first half in particular was played at Huddersfield’s end of the field – they were either defending or coming away in yardage. Hull’s forwards laid a decent platform but Andy Last’s side, playing at Warrington’s Halliwell Jones Stadium once again, couldn’t turn pressure and territory into points. Two tries were disallowed, but they were absolutely the right call by referee Scott Mikalauskas and more of an example of poor timing and execution. You know, water is wet, the grass is green, the story of Hull’s problems have been well-documented and being clinical with any sort of attacking potency has been a stumbling block of this side for as long as one can remember. The biggest upside is that Hull were so dominant in field position that their line was rarely under threat for the defence to be exposed. Saying that it didn’t take much for slender 6-0 lead to let up. The first glimpse of pressure saw Jermaine McGillvary squeeze over and Hull were similarly pegged back through Matty English and in particular Aidan Sezer’s try which didn’t sit well under a Hull persuasion. The positive there is that the response to each setback was good, with Hull upping the gear to regain the lead once more. They never went behind.
Of course some credit goes to Huddersfield there for keeping the score down. They are much better than people give them credit for. They have definitely responded under Luke Robinson – they defended well and they wouldn’t lie down, and Hull found it tough to shake them off. The opposition are one thing that’s rarely taken into consideration and for all Hull’s flaws that we’ve moaned about this season, there is the other side of the coin and that always plays a part in the outcome. On that note Huddersfield are no mugs, but despite their resilience Hull with the amount of favourable ball should have produced an end result that was much more comfortable than a two point margin thanks a 74th minute winning penalty goal. Yardage again was never a problem but there’s scrutiny on this sides attacking shape, structure and execution when they get near the line. It’s the same story, and it’s comes largely from the fullback and what those in the box are telling them to do every week.
As for individuals then and whilst it’s easy to lavish Sneyd up after another personal milestone, or blame Jamie Shaul for every set fading away, Josh Griffin was absolutely outstanding. Playing in the back row and linking up with Sneyd throughout, Griffin’s handling was ridiculous as he came up with two try superb assists, but he won’t look back on Matty English’s try with much fondness. Still he was arguably the pick of the bunch with his metre making and ability to bust his way through tackles exceptional as always. What a player.
Elsewhere Jake Connor was crisp with ball in hand despite being back in the halves and the much criticised Mahe Fonua was better too. Ligi Sao has had an impressive first season at Hull. He was solid again and in fact Huddersfield didn’t get a sniff until the interchange came into place. That’s a testament to Josh Bowden and in particular new cult hero Joe Cator too, along with Griffin and Andre Savelio who played his fourth consecutive game free of injury. Can’t speak. That’s not without mentioning the consistently brilliant Carlos Tuimavave too and Bureta Faraimo who finally got his first try of the season. The backs are massive to Hull’s go-forward and it’s not surprising to see Griffin and Tuimavave lead the way by a country mile. They’ve both been the best things about Hull this year.
This wasn’t a great game though by any stretch of the imagination and it’s not one we’ll remember in years gone by. That’s easy to say at this stage of the season where the top four is a pipe dream and we’re seeing out a behind closed doors sequence of games longing for full time in the final fixture against Wigan. That is still a month or so away but that really can’t come soon enough. The current situation is absolutely rancid. Even when you’re getting stuffed there’s nothing quite like being there. London Palladium anyone? Can’t make it up can you.
Sadly that kind of normality seems a lifetime away from becoming a reality in rugby league again so you can forgive us for ending a Hull win on a sour note. It’s been that sort of year. But at least this week we are on the right side of the score-line with a boost for the old win percentage. 2020 has peaked there, hasn’t it? Strewth, mate.
Hull Starting XIII: 1. Jamie Shaul, 33. Ratu Naulago, 3. Carlos Tuimavave, 24. Mahe Fonua, 2. Bureta Faraimo, 6. Jake Connor, 7. Marc Sneyd, 13. Ligi Sao, 16. Jordan Johnstone, 22. Josh Bowden, 23. Andre Savelio, 4. Josh Griffin, 15. Joe Cator. Interchange: 10. Chris Satae, 20. Brad Fash, 30. Jack Brown, 35. Ben McNamara.
Hull Tries: Naulago, Fonua, Faraimo. Goals: Sneyd 3/4
Hull 3-2-1 Man of the Match: 3pts Josh Griffin, 2pts Carlos Tuimavave, 1pt Joe Cator
Huddersfield Starting XIII: 1. Ashton Golding, 2. Jermaine McGillvary, 21. Leroy Cudjoe, 4. Jake Wardle, Sam Wood, 6. Lee Gaskell, 7. Aidan Sezer, 34. Chris McQueen, 37. Brandon Moore, 10. Suaia Matagi, 11. Kenny Edwards, 12. Joe Wardle, 13. Michael Lawrence. Interchange: 14. Matty English, 22. Tom Holmes, 4. Jordan Turner, 26. Sam Hewitt.
Huddersfield Tries: McGillvary, English, Sezer.
Huddersfield Goals: Sezer 2/3
Scoring System: 6-0 (Naulago), 6-4 (McGillvary), 10-4 (Fonua), HT, 10-10 (English), 16-10 (Faraimo), 16-16 (Sezer), 18-16, FT.
Attendance: Behind Closed Doors
Referee: Scott Mikalauskas