After wondering what type of Hull FC side would turn up in Newcastle, they at least gave it a go against Leeds, but ultimately their familiar flaws came back to haunt them in a frustrating 25-24 Golden Point defeat that all but ends the sides slim hopes of a play-off finish.
For the most part, the game told the story of the season. Hull did some things well, played to their strengths, and built themselves a lead after an awful start, but ultimately unprofessional errors and poor discipline cost them yet again, that and some questionable defence from a left edge in particular that won’t look back at Leeds’ tries with too much fondness. In fact, some of the defensive efforts were pathetic, and non more so than from the opener that saw Rhyse Martin crash over despite the attention of around four Hull players.
In attack, and once you take away the kicks, and of course the main attacking threat Jake Connor, then Hull created very little. Two swings of Marc Sneyd’s boot brought with them two Hull tries, one for Danny Houghton, who pounced on a terrible error from Richard Myler, and one for Carlos Tuimavave after a Connor flick back. That was enough to take the lead at half time, and it was Connor too who managed to squeeze himself over for a try that at the time put Hull ten points up, but after that Leeds had little difficulty in holding a conservative Hull side out, and with them playing one up for the final twenty minutes or so, you never felt it was a lead that the Black and Whites could see out. Familiar nerves at the fore.
The game itself had a lot to live up to after the thriller between St Helens and Catalans, and compared to that, it felt flat throughout. Featuring two teams down on troops, it was high on error and for the majority lacked the intensity that captivated the strong St James Park crowd as Le Dracs pulled off the unthinkable – three tries in the last five minutes and the League Leaders Shield heading back to Perpignan. Incredible.
Then again that was first and second. This was fifth and… eighth? Christ. Not bad for a squad costing in the region of £2.5million. Talk about mismanagement.
Yet despite the errors and the poor defence, Hull were still in the game until the very end, and the way Leeds eventually won it in a chaotic golden point period just summed up their biggest problem – the hooking department. Some still refuse to accept it, and others will hide away from it and instead blame Bureta Faraimo for playing the ball too quickly (yeah seriously), but the hooker not following the ball and getting to the ruck in time is criminal. It happened two or three times during the course of the game as well and just nailed Hull’s current predicament to the mast – actually it swept it out to sea and sank it in the middle of the ocean.
It’s those types of mistakes that kill Hull time and time again and from that error, a set that should have seen Hull rampage downfield with good yardage and quick play of the balls from their silky outside backs (how dare they), Leeds got possession, and after missing a handful of attempts to win the game, they finally confirmed the inevitable.
That decisive blow came from Kruise Leeming who had to play virtually the full game at half back following Robert Lui’s injury, and who’s speed, along with Brad Dwyer, was a constant pain in Hull’s backside throughout. It’s been notable in recent weeks the effect a decent attacking nine has had on Hull’s defence, and if anything has exposed them recently then it’s been speed.
Speed is what Hull lack. You can paint a pretty picture with numbers and yes Hull’s co-captain Houghton makes more tackles than drunken dickheads in the Leazes End, and sure his numbers on that new intensity nonsense Sky have brought out will probably look rosy too, but matching the attacking contributions of a Dwyer, a Paul McShane, or a Daryl Clark? Behave. Effort, grit and all the workmen-like qualities – absolutely unquestionable and they were so again in the Toon. Attacking ability though – huge question marks. That’s a fact. Then again it’s easier to just pinpoint it all on a bloke whose leaving the club because of some atrocious cap management elsewhere. Nothing to see here.
Houghton, who’s effort really is unquestionable and who has done some incredible things in the past, is far from Hull’s only problem, but hooker is a position that urgently needs some attention, and the way Faraimo was lynched in some parts for the error that cost Hull the game really wound us up. It was literally the complete opposite.
Then there was a bench that Brad Fash aside made no impact. Connor Wynne was brought on late, Ben McNamara didn’t get on (the fifth time that’s happened this year), and unfortunately Josh Bowden is a shadow of the player he was before he did his ACL. All that is all the more frustrating when you consider it was Leeds who were the livelier side late on and who ended up being the deserved winner. Hull’s fatigue was apparent, but how could it not be when they used only 15 players for well over two thirds of the match… Again though you can argue that is a result of a lopsided and poorly thought out squad.
This, the Saturday night blockbuster, was just a poor game, high on drama without doubt, but not a good spectacle in terms of actual quality. Then there was the video ref decision from Thaler to overturn Hicks’ live call. Connor (shock) patted down yet another kick, this time to Andre Savelio, but it was judged forward when it was level at worst. If you’re going on mathematics, then that cost Hull the game, but a lot happened after that decision where Hull had only themselves to blame. Again, it’s easier to lynch the officials as we don’t like nor get any satisfaction in highlighting the flaws of those in Black and White every week, but the truth hurts.
The defeat, Hull’s tenth in Super League this year, is probably the final nail in the coffin to any top six hopes, although with this being the seventh loss of the past eight games, those hopes were taking life threatening blows a while ago.
It’s just not good enough and the fall from grace since the highs of 2016/2017 has been huge. It’s 1991 and 2005 all over again – there just doesn’t seem to be any nouse within the club to keep Hull up there year on year. We’ve seen that in the business decisions, the poor cap management, and the sentiment over ruthlessness approach, all of which have left Hull in the mess they are now, and all of which have seen Hull go back to their home of the summer era; mediocrity. Don’t we just love it.
Leeds Starting XIII: 27. Jack Broadbent, 24. Luke Briscoe, 3. Harry Newman, 2. Tom Briscoe, 5. Ash Handley, 6. Robert Lui, 16. Richard Myler, 19. King Vuniyayawa, 9. Kruise Leeming, 10. Matt Prior, 31. Morgan Gannon, 12. Rhyse Martin, 20. Bodene Thompson.
Interchange: 14. Brad Dwyer, 25. James Donaldson, 18. Tom Holroyd, 17. Cameron Smith.
Leeds Tries: Martin, Newman, Leeming, Broadbent. Goals: Martin 4/5. Drop Goal: Leeming.
Hull Starting XIII: 29. Jamie Shaul, 2. Bureta Faraimo, 3. Carlos Tuimavave, 24. Cameron Scott, 5. Mahe Fonua, 1. Jake Connor, 7. Marc Sneyd, 13. Ligi Sao, 9. Danny Houghton, 10. Chris Satae, 11. Andre Savelio, 12. Manu Ma’u, 14. Jordan Johnstone.
Interchange: 22. Josh Bowden, 17. Brad Fash, 23. Connor Wynne, 19. Ben McNamara (unused).
Hull Tries: Houghton, Tuimavave, Connor. Goals: Sneyd 6/6
Scoring System: 6-0 (Martin), 8-0, 8-6 (Houghton), 8-8, 14-8 (Newman), 14-14 (Tuimavave), 14-16, HT, 14-18, 14-24 (Connor), 20-24 (Leeming), 24-24 (Broadbent), GP, 25-24, FT.
Referee: Robert Hicks