As expected, a much more experienced Bradford outfit got the better of what was essentially a Hull FC Academy side, who despite the defeat can take something out of a battling performance.
After all, this was a Hull side as raw as it gets, and one in which all but two players have come through a Hull system. Wearing the jersey, which looks stunning paired with the white shorts, with pride, they had a dig. In fact, they never gave up, and in pre-season in particular, that’s all that matters.
Of the eighteen lads who turned out at Odsal, a game which for the sake of the records went Bradford’s way 42-18, only four players were over the age of 21, and the large majority of them were experiencing their very first outing at this level.
The pick of the youth for us was half back Callum Rutland, who had some nice touches throughout, crossing over for two tries, one in support to finish off a break and the other darting over from dummy half. He was confident and certainly caught the eye.
At fullback, Davy Litten was solid but he also grew into the game and chimed into the attacking line well in the second half. He has pace on his side and he showed enough promise to suggest why the club have just given him a three year full-time contract.
Others like Charlie Severs also impressed the watching Brett Hodgson, having played both big and tough minutes given a squad that was cut to eighteen after Jamie Shaul rolled his ankle in the team run.
But arguably the best Hull player on the day was one of the eldest in Brad Fash, and with all due respect for a bloke who has over 100 top flight appearances to his name, you wouldn’t expect anything less.
Really it was all about the young whipper snappers, but Fash, captaining the side and once again adorning the mullet, was very good and fair play to him. He only knows one way and he gives everything every time he goes out onto the field. You can only admire that. He was busy here, scoring the first try and then assisting the second after dummying and stepping his way through the line like a spring chicken half back. Scenes.
But it was his work rate carrying the ball that was most impressive, something Hull are going to need a lot of in Super League as they negotiate the early rounds without the suspended Kane Evans and injured again Scott Taylor.
Yet, that opener at Wakefield still seems a while away with some first team players just coming back to pre-season training, and(or) getting through the last stages of their rehabilitation. That, along with the Bulls being Hull’s dual registration partners in 2022, perhaps suggests why Hodgson and co opted to send such a young squad to Odsal for their first run out of the year.
You could say then that this was their opportunity to put their best foot forward and impress John Kear, who will cherry pick the best of Hull’s youngsters and fringe players to play in the Championship this season. On that evidence, the names mentioned above could certainly handle the step up, which bodes well for both parties. Others will fancy a crack as the year goes on too.
As for the game itself then, Hull stayed with their hosts in a fluent first half that seemed to fly by and were only down by six points at half time having took the lead early on. Bradford, benefitting from the freshness that came from a much heftier interchange, came out firing early in the second half and posted three quick scores, but Hull’s young sorts kept going until the end.
Truth be told, they never threw the towel in despite at times a clear physical disadvantage. In parts, they actually defended pretty well, holding Bradford up and frustrating them, but the men against boys tale eventually told its story. As did experience, and Bradford, boasting the likes of Steve Crossley, Anthony Walker, Elliot Kear, Aaron Murphy et al, had plenty of that, with their major new signing Declan Patton pulling the strings and winning over the home crowd.
All in all, it was just good to see some live rugby league again, even if at a venue that to say is looking a little worse for wear would be an understatement. Some will say it always has been, but Odsal is an absolute dump these days. The speedway track around the field is a complete mess, but to be honest the whole ground, although drenched in some of the games most glorious nostalgia, could do with a firm makeover. Can’t say we’ve missed it as a top flight venue over the last eight years, and can’t say we’re looking forward to it ever returning as one either.
Anyway, back to the rugby and the cliches of pre-season still stand. It’s nice to win, nothing beats winning after all, but these games against lower league opposition are about getting minutes into young lads and the bigger picture. For Hull, and especially given lengthy investment into both their Academy and College programmes, that is not only getting players through their systems and into the first team, but making a mark on it.
Bradford Starting XIII: Elliot Kear, Matty Dawson-Jones, Rhys Evans, Kieran Gill, David Foggin-Johnston, Declan Patton, Billy Jowitt, Dan Fleming, Thomas Doyle, Ebon Scurr, Aaron Murphy, AJ Wallace, Jordan Baldwinson.
Interchange: Anthony Walker, Steve Crossley, Sam Scott, Ben Evans, Joe Burton, Bradley Ho, Sam Arundel, Lewis Camden, Ryan Forshaw, Coby Nichol.
Bradford Tries: Gill, Doyle, B. Evans, Foggin-Johnston 2, Kear, Nichol. Goals: Patton 6/6, Jowitt 1/1
Hull FC Starting XIII: Davy Litten, Manoa Wacokecoke, Cameron Scott, Leon Stewart, Lewis Martin, Marcus Walker, Callum Rutland, Brad Fash, Jordan Johnstone, Aidan Burrell, Charlie Severs, Zach Jebson, Ligi Sao.
Interchange: Alex Gibson, Mackenzie Harman, Kieran Masike, Sam Richards, Nick Staveley.
Hull Tries: Fash, Rutland 2. Goals: Rutland 3/3
Scoring System: 6-0 (Gill), 6-6 (Fash), 6-12 (Rutland), 12-12 (Doyle), 18-12 (B.Evans), HT, 24-12 (Foggin-Johnston), 30-12 (Kear), 36-12 (Foggin-Johnston), 36-18 (Rutland), 42-18 (Nichol), FT.
Referee: Robert Hicks