Hull FC got their 2021 Super League season up and running with a comfortable 22-10 victory over Huddersfield on Sunday afternoon.
Here is Up the Cream’s Five Things column.
1. Josh Reynolds the marquee man
Josh Reynolds was everything we expected and more on his Hull FC debut. With intensity levels that justified his previous Origin selection, he played the game like a nutter, having the freedom to roam around the field in a performance that oozed class.
Getting himself over for a well-deserved try, not to mention having a hand in another whilst constantly tormenting and teasing a well-beaten Huddersfield side, he was immense.
Then there was his post-match interview. After ripping it up and covering every inch of turf, he still wasn’t happy with his performance. Talk about raising standards, something Hodgson first highlighted when he took the job. It seems the marquee man at least is buying into them. He won’t be satisfied until he’s in the boozer with a Super League ring on his finger.
2. Brett Hodgson’s Hull FC
Defence is the Aussie coaches buzzword, and it was defence that took the most plaudits in the opening round win.
Huddersfield were well hyped going into Sunday’s game. Sure they didn’t have their biggest attacking weapon in Aidan Sezer, but they didn’t get a sniff either, and that’s testament to Hull, who looked comfortable throughout with the result never in doubt.
Hodgson spoke before the game about doing all the little things right and Hull did just that particularly without the ball.
With the ball there were signs of a more adventurous attack and as the season progresses the points should come a little more rapidly.
It’s only round one, but there’s a lot here to build on. Hodgson’s Hull FC will defend tough, but in attack they’ll also be a lot more easy on the eye. Let’s get behind him and enjoy the ride.
3. Jake the Snake
Jake Connor at fullback is a revelation. He just makes the game look easy.
Ghosting through the Huddersfield defence to score Hull’s first try and setting up the second with a neat pass to Josh Griffin, Connor adds another dimension to Hull’s attack and was even the peace maker when Reynolds opted for a bit of shithousing just before half time.
Alongside the Grub and the Iceman, the Snake will get assists in his sleep. Clearly enjoying his rugby league again, the sky is the limit to what he can achieve this year.
4. Big Fellas and the Engines
Hodgson gave out a few surprises in his starting line up but every one of them was justified.
Off the back of a big pre-season, Chris Satae didn’t disappoint. Starting the game with his best mate Ligi Sao, he was brilliant. He found the floor more than most and got Hull on the front foot in both of his stints.
Jordan Lane at loose man was also one of Hull FC’s best. The position is no stranger to him having played it numerous times for the Reserves over the past few years and it allows him to get more involved. He’s a talented player Lane, a grafter, and he was outstanding on Sunday – running great lines and holding his own in defence.
Hodgson clearly fancied the big fellas early on, with the bigger engines of Scott Taylor and Joe Cator coming off the bench against a more fatigued outfit.
In the backs Adam Swift and Mahe Fonua got the nod on the wings, with Cam Scott a surprise inclusion on the bench.
Don’t rule out a few more surprises as the season progresses either.
5. Consistency is key
Hull FC started last season with an absolute belter against Leeds at Headingley, then things started to fall apart with Lee Radford sacked six weeks later. Moral of the story? Rugby League is brutal and things can change pretty quickly.
History almost repeated itself at Headingley this year. This one wasn’t quite as impressive as that win over the Whinos, but it was a good performance to start the year. There’s still improvement in Hull, but that was a solid foundation to work off. The challenge now is to find some consistency and reach that level week in week out. That’s been the struggle in recent years, and that’s what Hodgson and co have to sort out in order to reach their targets.