Supporting Hull FC is the most frustrating thing in the world, genuinely, and being emotionally attached to them is just a fucking nightmare.
Let’s cut the bullshit. That was dreadful. With the ball Hull were atrocious and the longer it went on the worse it got, as Leeds, and a Leeds side that hardly set the world alight themselves, ran out 12-22 winners in the first game with unrestricted crowds on our ‘home’ ground in 16-months. It just had to happen, didn’t it…
Hull’s attack, missing the influential Jake Connor to the point where it looks like a one-man army, was absolutely shocking. The service from the ruck just wasn’t good enough and there was nothing coming from first receiver either. Danny Houghton. Marc Sneyd. Two blokes who have done some incredible things in their Hull careers to the point where you can get lynched for even daring to criticise them, but the truth hurts sometimes.
What was displayed on Thursday night was pathetic. Hull’s creative outlets were hopeless. They failed to open Leeds up and every time the Hull side looked like they’d got on the front foot, they slowed it down again. Chances fizzled out and opportunities went by the wayside. It was a continuous cycle and made for some tough viewing.
Seriously, why you’d want to play anything other than fast and direct is beyond this keyboard coaches understanding, but to actually slow it down. Christ. The only pivot to play with said energy was Josh Reynolds, who must feel like he’s fighting a losing battle at times. No-one goes with him and no-one backed him up to benefit from his moments, which ultimately faded to too few and far between as the game wore on – and to the point where frustration took centre stage as he was sin binned for some handbags with Richard Myler in the 70th minute.
Yeah, that was a hard watch. Hull had all the ball early on yet couldn’t, even when forcing four back-to-back sets, get over the line. It was the same story in the second half, and even rare inspiring plays like a peach of a 40/20 from Sneyd (sandwiched in the middle of some really poor last tackle options) couldn’t get the side going. In fact, on that occasion the attacking set was crucified with a predictable Sneyd kick, who can be hit and miss at times, coming to nothing and Leeds scored a minute later. It was that kind of night.
Yet, what we know and what we need should become much clearer now, if it wasn’t already. It was the kind of defeat that really highlighted Hull’s need for an attacking number nine, and especially as Brad Dwyer came off the bench and injected pace into the contest. Everything with the interchange dummy half was a million miles an hour. Kruise Leeming similar, but Dwyer was the game breaker. He’s a complete contrast to Hull. To Houghton. And yeah again, the truth hurts. The club should always come first, and Hull need a new direction in the hooking department. They need a nine that can control the game, and then they need a Dwyer type to come on and jump out the ruck playing with some speed when a game is there in the balance.
When you dive deeper Hull’s predicament gets worse too. It’s worse because you have the clubs owner Adam Pearson whinging about money yet AGAIN whilst one of, if not the most, expensive Hull squads ever sits there as unbalanced as the bookkeeper at Bradford Bulls. How it operates at full cap is a mystery itself and questions really do have to be asked about its management. That squad is missing a prop or two, that said hooker, and beyond its strongest 17, it’s not good enough to compete with most of what Super League will throw at them. That’s the reality, and you feel for revolutionists like Brett Hodgson who’s come in, tried to change a few things, succeeded in some, but who’s hands remained tied with some of the dead wood at his disposal.
It’s a big job ahead for Hull’s Aussie coach alright. Similar to Lee Radford who had to sort out the mess left by Bomber at the end of 2013. A reminder that a so called rugby person isn’t always the answer. The best Hull had in that department in recent times was Motu Tony, although things started to get too sentimental before he left the club to go back to New Zealand. How much of a say does the owner have too in all of this? It makes you wonder.
Sorting the cap out is absolutely crucial and you can’t play down the importance of recruitment and retention for next year. The alarm bells should be ringing. You take Connor out of the side and the attack looks a shade of what it is when the Snake is putting seventeen try assists on a plate in only eleven games. There’s no-one that can step up in his absence. Connor Wynne ran the ball really well, but he’s not a ball playing fullback (arguably his best first grade display was in the centre) and to be honest, it seemed like he wasn’t included in most of Hull’s structure as they hopelessly tried to unlock a dogged Leeds side.
It was the type of inept attacking performance we’ve seen countless times over the past several years, and you have to look at the common denominators. There’s areas that need freshening up, yet whether the club will have the balls to do so is a big question mark. For the sake of everything good Hodgson has bought so far, they just have to. They have to back him, they need to get rid of those holding the side back, and spend the money in the right areas before they cry wolf about how hard it is right now. There’s a lot to sort out, but again we knew the score. Hull’s first seventeen is a match for anyone and has been at times this year, but beyond that seventeen is a cause for concern, and you can still argue some weak leaks get carried in that strongest seventeen by others too.
Again, it’s the same names who stand out every week. Chris Satae was incredible yet again. That bloke is an absolute wrecking ball, who takes the fight to the opposition every game with his strong carries. He’s unplayable. Ligi Sao too also went really well. He always does and his footwork is outstanding. The forwards weren’t the issue here, they laid the platform, and the amount of good field position Hull had should have resulted in points. You could actually argue they should have been out of sight at half time, but instead every chance was wasted and when Leeds got their opportunities the likes of Dwyer weren’t going to waste them. That was the difference, and you can bang that drum all day.
Elsewhere, well in the first half at least, Carlos Tuimavave and in particular Bureta Faraimo were both on point, but their involvements faded in the second half. On the other flank Hull, baring one forward pass that led to his try, couldn’t get Adam Swift into the game and Mahe Fonua was anonymous again. The back rowers Jordan Lane and Manu Ma’u tried, of course they tried, effort isn’t in question, but nothing came off offensively. The bench again offered little, with Jordan Johnstone brought on as a middle and Cam Scott with just ninety-five seconds to go.
So, what started out as a promising season is now in real danger of fizzling out. This Hull side can’t cope with injuries and it certainly can’t cope when losing its best player. And with further tough games coming up against St Helens, Warrington, and Catalans, not to mention the Derby, Hull could genuinely be out of the play-off places in a fortnight.
This year, a year which brought so many praises early on, could get ugly real fast, and just as Hull were supposed to be finishing a favourable run of fixtures to prop themselves up the table. Instead, recent fortunes with covid outbreaks, injuries, suspensions, and fixture postponements, couldn’t have got much worse, and we’re now nervously looking over our shoulders at the chasing pack. Some turnaround. As always, it’s the hope that kills you.
Hull Starting XIII: 23. Connor Wynne, 2. Bureta Faraimo, 3. Carlos Tuimavave, 5. Mahe Fonua, 21. Adam Swift, 6. Josh Reynolds, 7. Marc Sneyd, 13. Ligi Sao, 9. Danny Houghton, 10. Chris Satae, 12. Manu Ma’u, 16. Jordan Lane, 15. Joe Cator.
Interchange: 17. Brad Fash, 22. Josh Bowden, 14. Jordan Johnstone, 24. Cameron Scott.
Hull Tries: Swift, Tuimavave. Goals: Sneyd 2/3
Hull Sin Bin: Reynolds
Leeds Starting XIII: 16. Richard Myler, 2. Tom Briscoe, 4. Konrad Hurrell, 3. Harry Newman, 5. Ash Handley, 23. Callum McLelland, 7. Luke Gale, 8. Mikolaj Oledzki, 9. Kruise Leeming, 10. Matt Prior, 11. Alex Mellor, 12. Rhyse Martin, 13. Zane Tetevano.
Interchange: 14. Brad Dwyer, 19. King Vuniyayawa, 17. Cameron Smith, 25. James Donaldson.
Leeds Tries: Dwyer, Myler, Smith. Goals: Martin 5/5
Leeds Sin Bin: Myler
Scoring System: 0-2, 4-2 (Swift), 4-4, 6-4, HT, 6-10 (Dwyer), 6-16 (Myler), 6-22 (Smith), 12-22 (Tuimavave), FT.
Referee: Liam Moore
Attendance: 9,300 odd