Hull FC got off to an impressive start against Huddersfield last weekend but the real test starts now.
Consistency has been a huge issue with this Hull side for the past two seasons and now it’s about putting it together week in week out, with the next challenge being Salford Red Devils at St Helens’ Langtree Park.
Many have tipped Salford to finish in the bottom four but there are no easy games in Super League. In fact, all but one of the opening round margins were by 12 points or less and Saturday afternoon presents another test against plucky opposition.
Like Hull, Salford also have a new head coach in Richard Marshall and they have signed plenty of new players too, with Elijah Taylor the one to come out with the most credit following their opening night defeat to St Helens. They are tough to beat and pose a threat alone with their never say die attitude, best exemplified in getting to the Challenge Cup final last year after making Old Trafford the season before. Some ride.
But Brett Hodgson’s Hull FC were arguably the most impressive team last weekend, especially given the ease at which they got on top of a hyped up Huddersfield side. Defensively Hull were robust and they showed flashes of composure and craft in attack too. It wasn’t perfect and there are areas to improve on, but it was a solid foundation to work off.
Amongst the hard work and defensive steel there was an eye-catching Hull attack that had enough points in them to race away. Hull kept their cool in round one. They have a diamond in Josh Reynolds to go with Marc Sneyd and Jake Connor and that makes them a threat to most, especially with a renewed emphasis on keeping their line intact. Add that to the likes of Jordan Lane, Andre Savelio, and Chris Satae, all of whom were superb last week, and it’s not hard to see where the expectation comes from.
It’s still early days, but another win in the same manner as last weekend would be a big step to showing the values installed by Hodgson over pre-season are not just something that have scratched the surface, but something that have been buried deep within.
The marquee man
Josh Reynolds was sublime on his Hull FC debut, scoring one try, having a hand in another, and just generally teasing and tormenting Huddersfield all game with his intensity and innovation. He was outstanding.
But upon getting the Man of the Match award he told Sky Sports that he thought he was a bit rusty. Mental. Talk about raising standards though, something Hodgson spoke of when he first took the job. Reynolds was obviously listening, so cheers to an even better performance this week.
The Snake and the Iceman
Amongst Reynolds ripping it up, how good was it to see Hull FC play with a smile on their faces again. Whilst retaining a structure and shape to work off, Hodgson has clearly given his side the freedom to express themselves. We saw plenty of that against Huddersfield. Jake Connor, particularly in the first half, was brilliant. Marc Sneyd as well was untouchable whether kicking or passing the ball. He’s such a skilful player and with a more expansive attack we’re going to see a lot more of those qualities this year. It should be great to watch.
Whilst Hodgson has brought many new things to Hull FC, the metre-making abilities of the outside backs, particularly from the two centres, have gone nowhere. Carlos Tuimavave ran for 166 against Huddersfield, with Josh Griffin getting 114. Both players are massive to what this side do and are arguably the best pairing in Super League.
Defend, defend, defend
Defence was the cornerstone of Hull’s display over Huddersfield with the Black and Whites taking pride from defending their line. There was trust on the edges with neither winger jamming in, whilst a sizeable then energetic middle held its own. It was impressive and it was all built on hard work. Only the same attitude will ensure Hull make it two from two against a Salford side that never back down.
Loose forward – who gets the nod?
Jordan Lane was outstanding starting in the loose forward position against Huddersfield with Joe Cator also impressing off the interchange.
Due to Bowden’s head knock, there was a period where both Lane and Cator were on the field as middles at the same time and Hull’s authority never dropped. Credit to both players who have superb engines and never take a backwards step.
The ability to adapt and be versatile will serve any Hodgson player in good stead with options in abundance. This isn’t a problem. Hull’s head coach will continue to do what he thinks is best for the team. Let’s get behind him.
Fash to come in
Josh Bowden’s head knock means it’s likely that Brad Fash will get his first run out of the season.
Fash was decent in the second half of last season. You know what you get with him. He’s dependable, usually error free, defensively sound, and he gives everything.
Hull: 1. Jake Connor, 2. Bureta Faraimo, 3. Carlos Tuimavave, 4. Josh Griffin, 5. Mahe Fonua, 6. Josh Reynolds, 7. Marc Sneyd, 8. Scott Taylor, 9. Danny Houghton, 10. Chris Satae, 11. Andre Savelio, 12. Manu Ma’u, 13. Ligi Sao, 14. Jordan Johnstone, 15. Joe Cator, 16. Jordan Lane, 17. Brad Fash, 19. Ben McNamara, 21. Adam Swift, 23. Connor Wynne, 24. Cameron Scott.
Salford: 2. Ken Sio, 3. Kallum Watkins, 4. Krisnan Inu, 6. Tui Lolohea, 7. Kevin Brown, 8. Lee Mossop, 9. Andy Ackers, 10. Sebastine Ikahihfo, 11. Ryan Lennon, 12. Pauli Pauli, 13. Elijah Taylor, 14. Danny Addy, 17. Josh Johnson, 19. Elliot Kear, 20. Harvey Livett, 22. Rhys Williams, 23. Dan Sarginson, 24. Matthew Costello, 25. Jack Ormondroyd, 26. Jack Wells, 29. Declan Patton.
Jamie Shaul is out with an ACL injury, Masimbaashe Matongo is another long-term absentee with a knee injury that required surgery last week, and Jack Brown has rolled his ankle in training.
Josh Bowden is out due to concussion protocols having failed his head injury assessment against Huddersfield.
Salford are missing Morgan Escare, Joe Burgess, Oliver Roberts, Greg Burke and Chris Atkin.
Last Five Meetings
2020: Hull 22 Salford 28 (at Warrington)
2020: Salford 54 Hull 18 (at Leeds)
2019: Hull 22 Salford 44
2019: Hull 35 Salford 32
2019: Salford 16 Hull 23
Super League Head to Head
Played 48 – Hull wins 35 – Salford wins 13
Hull by 14 points.