Five Things: Hull FC pack stands up in defeat to St Helens

Hull FC showed plenty of effort and fight against St Helens, but it was a lack of nous that was their undoing in a 24-10 defeat.

Here are our Five Things.

1.. Appreciation

Hull FC weren’t far off at St Helens and in some areas they more than matched the best team in the land. Competitive throughout, Hull at one stage rattled the Saints and if for a bit more polish, we could have been looking at a different story.

However, like every champion side, St Helens showed their class. Sometimes you have to appreciate your opposition. Hull were full of endeavour and they certainly had a go, but the limitations are noticeable. They are where they are for a reason.

On the contrary, the Saints are outstanding. It’s the pace they play at which is absolutely frightening. Led by their sensational hooker James Roby, they play fast and hard, they’re skilful, but they’re also aggressive, seeming to thrive just as much in getting off their line and smashing their opponent as they do scoring tries.

A brilliant organisation, Saints, who these days play right on the edge, are the benchmark for all, and as always, it was their frantic pace that ultimately proved too much for Hull to handle. Credit to them.

2.. Potent Pack

Hull FC had a dig at Langtree Park and they showed plenty of fight, with their pack deserving of some plaudits.

It’s the same names as well. Chris Satae had his moments, but Ligi Sao was excellent yet again. Packing a punch, he played the full first half and he had a big stint in the second too – never letting his intensity drop. Manu Ma’u was also a wrecking ball in both the left edge and middle roles getting through a mountain of work.

Adapting to the loss of Brad Fash who suffered concussion early on and will miss next weeks game against Wigan, Hull had to show their metal and their middles certainly did that.

Jack Brown also played big minutes and was terrific again, more than matching a brilliant St Helens team, and in the backs, Darnell McIntosh put in a massive shift.

It’s not all doom and gloom. The fight was definitely there and Hull stuck at St Helens. They never folded and they were in the grind, showing plenty of resilience in the process. They’re really not that far off at all but it’s the same issues holding them back.

3.. Flaws

Hull’s forwards were superb, causing St Helens problems throughout. Unfortunately the spine couldn’t capitalise on that with a lack of nous a noticeable thing in defeat.

For large parts of the first half and in having a numerical advantage for ten minutes of the second, Hull found themselves with plenty of opportunities to get at St Helens, but they couldn’t capitalise on those chances. 

They were let down by their creative sorts, who as usual put everything on the fullbacks shoulders. The “chuck it to Connor” approach is getting tedious now and Hull need to get more out of their spine.

On his 399th club appearance, Danny Houghton had one or two good moments in the first half, but fatigue is clearly a factor with him now and in the second – amongst slow distribution – dumb things like not being aware of where (ironically) Connor was on the field and instead hitting the lead on the last are infuriating. The fullbacks reaction in a period when Hull were a man up said it all.

Then there’s Reynolds, who cut a frustrated and off the pace figure throughout, throwing balls into touch and not keeping up with play. After an encouraging display against Catalans, this once again resembled headless chicken territory. It’s not good enough and it’s not unorthodox to demand more from a spine that was underwhelming yet again.

4.. Selections

Brett Hodgson was on a hiding to nothing with his selections. He backed previous performance as many fans have been calling out for, but it was two of those he backed who were at fault the most.

Luke Gale was left out at the expense of Josh Reynolds and it didn’t pay off, with Jamie Shaul also rewarded with a start at the expense of Adam Swift.

After two decent outings against the French teams, Shaul was exposed against the champions. He went okay with the ball but he had a difficult night without it – out of position and at fault for at least two of St Helens’ tries.

Both selections went hand in hand with what the club are trying to do at the moment, and it’s nice that good performances bring with them reward, but it’s fair to say Gale and Swift will likely come back in against Wigan, and rightly so.

5.. Position

It was always going to be a tall order for Hull to beat St Helens and upon reflection nothing has really changed after the result.

There were positives, there were negatives, and Hull despite a fifth league defeat of the season are still in a good position.

Dropping down to fifth place, they’re still on track for a play-off finish.

Again, this is the reality, and finishing inside the top six this season would go down as progress.

It’s all about what Hull do off the field now, and by all accounts it’s a mixed bag with Manu Ma’u and Joe Lovodua rumoured to be re-signed as well as Houghton.

The club need to polish a few things up and stop being sentimental. They won’t get anywhere until they shake up the half back and hooker positions.

Like stated, Hull aren’t a million miles away and we are talking tweaks here and not wholesale changes. Jake Trueman is a start, but there’s a case now that Hull need another new face to go alongside him.

It’s that nous and leadership from a good pair of halves that they’re crying out for.

For now, perhaps it’s time Hull got Joe Lovodua or Denive Balmforth at nine with young Jacob Hookem getting another go at six or seven. The direction is youth and we’ve got to start backing them.

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About Dan Tomlinson 1749 Articles
Editor of Up the Cream. Once upon a time I looked like my profile pic.

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