Hull FC made it two Super League wins from two with an impressive 35-4 victory over Salford.
Here is Up the Cream’s Five Things column.
1. The Snake is on fire
Moving Jake Connor to fullback has been an absolute revelation.
We all know the talent he’s got, but playing at the back he has the freedom to express himself. There’s no pressure on him, he’s got a smile on his face again and he’s ripping Super League defences apart.
Connor is different level. His first try assist was brilliant – had to clean the TV screen afterwards – and his second was equally impressive after breaking the Salford line.
Defensively too he looks the part. He was solid under the high ball and he returned well, but what was most impressive was the way he stood up and led the side after Hull lost both Josh Reynolds and Marc Sneyd to second half knocks.
Jake the Snake has just got an aura about him. He’s a class act, one of the most talented in the competition, and the sky is the limit. Get that contract signed now.
2. Dealing with adversity
At 35-4 that was a healthy looking win, but it still had its moments of adversity. The game was scrappy to begin with and Hull took a few sets to get going. Then in the second half they lost both of their half backs, but they dealt with it all superbly and that is perhaps the biggest change in them this year.
Previous Hull sides would have panicked early on and the error count would have soon risen, but this team kept their composure, stuck to their processes, and eventually got their reward. Then for the final twenty minutes they adapted without both their six and seven to steer themselves home with just the one try conceded. That’s remarkable really. Sure the score line was already favourable but to stick together and continue to boss the game deserves huge credit.
Despite dominating for the second successive week, there’s still some improvement in Hull as well. It’s about raising standards and kicking on. Never be content. There’s a different mentality now. Early days of course and tougher games lay ahead, but things are looking good.
We can all over analyse rugby league but at the end of the day it’s a simple game. If you run harder and tackle harder than your opposition then more times than not you will come out on top.
The eye-catching and slick nature of the Hull attack is brilliant, but this side are also doing all the basic and unfashionable things right at the moment. It’s the intensity they play at. You see it with the likes of Reynolds and he brings everyone else along the ride.
The enthusiasm to defend is brilliant – can still picture Scott Taylor bending players in half in the 75th minute – but it’s also things like the cleaning up of loose balls, making those tough carries, and the high completion rates that have been so impressive.
On the back of those basics Hull are setting their foundations, but they are doing it with so much energy and that’s why they’ve been untouchable so far. Long may it continue.
There’s never been a shortage of expectation at Hull FC, but over the past two or so years there’s not been enough consistency in their displays to manage that expectation.
That is the challenge for Hodgson’s side this season. It was vital that Hull matched their round one performance. They did just that and in some areas probably bettered last week against Huddersfield, not that you’d have thought it if you listened to Hodgson’s Sky interview post-match. He’ll never be satisfied and we bloody love that.
That’s what it’s all about this year. There’s no shouting from the rooftops here that Hull will win Super League, but if they can play to that level week in week out then the results will take care of themselves.
Hull’s first seventeen is a match for anyone this year but it’s beyond that where the doubt lays.
Against Salford we got our first test to this squads strength in depth with Brad Fash coming in for Josh Bowden. It passed.
Fash’s mullet is sensational, and his performance wasn’t bad either. Everyone knows what he is all about and he gives everything for this club. He went really well.
That depth could be tested further next week too, with knocks coming for Sneyd (dead leg), Reynolds (hamstring) and Sao (ankle). More will be known in the coming days but it’s thought at this stage that none are serious. However, if they are then Hull have a handy replacement in Ben McNamara to negotiate their way past Featherstone, with Connor Wynne also an option. Let’s see what happens.