Innovative with the ball and resilient without it, there’s a lot to like about Brett Hodgson’s Hull FC right now, who made it two wins from two with an excellent 35-4 victory over Salford on Saturday afternoon.
Completely dominant for the second week running, Hull this time got their reward on the scoreboard too. After a somewhat scrappy start, Hodgson’s side soon clicked into gear producing another outstanding performance to continue their impressive start to the season.
Poor old Salford barely got a look in as Hull bossed the game from the word go, boasting all the field position with their dominance eventually turning into points as a slick and eye-catching attack took centre stage.
In a Man of the Match display, Jake Connor at fullback took most of the plaudits and rightly so. He was absolutely sensational, slithering into the attacking line to torment and tease Salford all game with his flicks and tricks.
Putting two more tries on a plate for his teammates, Connor is also learning the dark arts of the position with the defensive side to his game on point. Every touch on the ball was full of quality. It was the complete display. Not only that, but to show both the maturity and versatility to step up and be the teams leader following second half knocks to Josh Reynolds and then Marc Sneyd with a quarter of the game still to go was really impressive.
And that right there is the only sour note – the cost of the win. There’s doubt on the fitness of both Reynolds and Sneyd going into next week’s cup tie at Featherstone, and should they remain on the treatment table, then an opportunity could present itself for young Ben McNamara. That’s the mindset Hodgson has installed into this Hull team. Versatility, the ability to adapt, and of course to be psyched up for other players’ opportunities.
Early days, but so far it’s all coming together, particularly for Jake the Snake who is enjoying his rugby once again – a lethal combination itself with a Rugby League World Cup coming up at the end of the year. Connor in both the vital and specialist position that is the modern day fullback has started the season like a house on fire, but he’s not on his own. It’s a team game after all and it’s so cliche, but again from 1-17 the Hull side were sublime.
They are all buying into what Hodgson is building. On the right edge Andre Savelio was an absolute monster, with Jordan Lane and Joe Cator owning the middle of the field alongside Polynesian pals Chris Satae and Ligi Sao – laterally who also took a knock to his ankle and didn’t return.
Then you’ve got Scott Taylor coming off the bench and smashing his opposition with the same aggression as in minute one. That and Brad Fash’s mullet are just sensational, with the Bullhead standing up tall coming in for Josh Bowden on his 100th career appearance.
Elsewhere, Carlos Tuimavave was outstanding again in the centres, Josh Griffin equally so as they ate up more metres, with both wingers Mahe Fonua and in particular Adam Swift also impressing. Swift is a great story. He had a nightmare 2020 with both niggly injuries and personal issues but he’s got his chance this year and hasn’t looked back.
Then there’s young Cam Scott joining the party late but crashing onto balls thinking the game is still in the balance. That ruthlessness is what separates the best from the rest and Hull weren’t going to be content until they buried Salford into the ground.
That’s it in a nutshell. Never look back and keep on moving. Everything about Hull right now is fresh. The way Hodgson has them set up is so easy on the eye, but amongst the glamour of those neat or booming passes, the crisp shape and structure, the delicacy of the kicks, it’s the solid foundation of this side that is most notable.
From the likes of the two wingers coming in for those tough carries to the defensive steel and line speed of both the middle and the edges, the hardworking nature of the whole side is evident. There’s a backbone now. Hull are tough. They are intense. It’s the little things. The basics. There’s no daft errors coming out of yardage, silly penalties given away, or weak tackle attempts. Everything is full on, more professional and executed with a new found energy. Hull under Hodgson are sticking to the process and reaping the rewards.
Bossing their opposition for the second week running, Hull this week got the end margin they richly deserved, yet the scoreboard whilst both sides were nip and tuck actually took a while to get going. That’s more testament to Hull though who stuck to their values and kept building despite a couple of early errors and try blunders. They never took their foot off the gas showing both composure and patience and eventually the points came.
Again taking a healthy lead into half time whilst keeping the opposition scoreless, the result was never in doubt, and why would it be with Sneyd again playing in a dinner jacket, leaving Reynolds to roam about the pitch and pop up with another two tries either side of half time to kill the game as a contest and continue his immense start to his Hull career.
The spine of Hull right now is outrageously good and you can include Danny Houghton in that too who has took a lot of criticism over the past couple of years, but who has started the season well. Again he showed his versatility late on stepping into the halves with Cator going to hooker.
Those final twenty minutes never fazed Hull and that professionalism and composure is probably the most promising thing to take from the game, especially given that Salford are no mugs either. They’re a good team and Hull completely dominated them. Baring one second half try they didn’t pose a threat at all. The intensity the Hull side played at was too much for them to handle and the quality was also there to finish them off.
Of course it’s important to not get carried away. It’s just two games and that’s nothing in the grand scheme of things, but we have been due a bit of excitement. It’s the manner of the two wins more than anything. Things are different now. The shape. The structure. The attitude. The defence. The intensity. You name it. Hull have been great so far, but we know the quality of St Helens and the like. They are sensational and there’s still a long way to go.
As it goes though you can only play what’s in front of you and Hull so far have done all the right things. The challenge throughout the season will be maintaining the bar set, but right now Hull have a lot to shout about. They’ve just got to kick on now.
Salford Starting XIII: 23. Dan Sarginson, 2. Ken Sio, 3. Kallum Watkins, 19. Elliot Kear, 22. Rhys Williams, 6. Tui Lolohea, 7. Kevin Brown, 8. Lee Mossop, 9. Andy Ackers, 10. Sebastine Ikahihifo, 20. Lee Mossop, 11. Ryan Lannon, 13. Elijah Taylor. Interchange: 17. Josh Johnson, 26. Jack Wells, 25. Jack Ormondroyd, 29. Declan Patton.
Salford Tries: Sio. Goals: 0/1
Hull Starting XIII: 1. Jake Connor, 21. Adam Swift, 4. Josh Griffin, 3. Carlos Tuimavave, 5. Mahe Fonua, 6. Josh Reynolds, 7. Marc Sneyd, 10. Chris Satae, 9. Danny Houghton, 13. Ligi Sao, 12. Manu Ma’u, 16. Jordan Lane. Interchange: 8. Scott Taylor, 17. Brad Fash, 15. Joe Cator, 24. Cameron Scott.
Hull Tries: Savelio, Reynolds 2, Griffin, Scott. Goals: Sneyd 5/5, Connor 2/2. Drop Goal: Connor
Scoring System: 0-6 (Savelio) 0-8, 0-14 (Reynolds), HT, 0-20 (Reynolds), 0-26 (Griffin), 4-26 (Sio), 4-28, 4-29, 4-35 (Scott), FT.
Attendance: Behind Closed Doors
Referee: Chris Kendall