I’ve gone on record as saying that I love writing this blog, but after a display like the one at Wakey, it really can feel like a chore sometimes.
Of course, a loss can really fire me up too, I can whinge about our tactics, our coach, our players, our recruitment, the weather, even sometimes *gasp* the refereeing, and in some ways that’s enjoyable too. It staves off me having a stroke or an ulcer for another week and releases some stress when I spout bile in writing. This loss however, needs to be put into some perspective in my opinion.
Firstly, lets not kid ourselves. That was awful. Wakefield are a decent side, but they are not a side we should be shipping 72 points to by any stretch of the imagination. I have to admit that I didn’t see it, as it wasn’t on TV, and I only caught the first half via the BBC Radio app before I gave in and went to sleep. I feel for those of you that parted with their hard earned cash to follow the team there, and judging by the range of emotions I’ve since seen on social media people were understandably very upset.
For some perspective however let’s have a look at the bigger picture. We are still 5th, albeit way off the pace and HIGHLY unlikely to finish 4th. We’ve had an injury crisis I’ve not seen since 2003 when we lost Prescott, Tony Smith and Matt Crowther to season ending injuries in one week from memory.
We’ve avoided the Middle 8’s again, and save for one or two performances I’d say that we’ve been bloody competitive in every other game we’ve played. We’ve given youngsters some time on the field that nobody expected, unearthed a diamond in the rough in Hakim Miloudi, prospects in Liam Harris and Cameron Scott and lost a negative influence in our offloading of Liam “My dad said I’m a worldbeater” Watts.
Even after the club have come out and said there won’t be much in the way of recruitment for next season, we’ve gained the aforementioned Harris, Joe Westerman and Lewis Bienek looks an interesting find too. Bowden, Connor, Sneyd, Shaul and Kelly will all benefit from a full pre-season after missing games this year and practically be new signings. Fielding a first-choice backline next year will be a luxury, and I still reckon there might be a surprise buy in the pipeline somewhere… we need a rough arsed prop desperately, and Mickey Paea hasn’t really cut it. I wouldn’t be surprised if we made a play for someone in the close season and release Mickey the way we did Pritchard for Kelly to come in.
If we’d stayed injury free, if we’d had more luck with disciplinary problems, if in short we’d had the luck we’ve enjoyed the last two years, I reckon we’d be sitting second or third and probably still in the Cup too.
Compare this to our opponents here and near neighbours. A similar injury crisis, but entrenched in the Middle 8’s, looking over their shoulders at Toulouse, Toronto and London, and panic buying comedy players like the Rectum and the Bubbler. Their junior players haven’t fired like ours have, and when they do, they seem to get sent to York on Dual Reg straight after. Look at L**ds, a once in a generation crop of players all retire within two years of each other, one or two injuries, and they’ve been sucked into a relegation battle for the second time in three years, sacked their coach and although both they and Hull KR should be safe with games to spare, I’d rather be an Airlie Bird right now than a Rhino or a Robin, wouldn’t you?
So, yes, the Wakefield result was dire and to sum up Radford’s own very truthful words we rolled the dice and came up with a double one. For us to have a realistic chance of the top four we simply had to win, and if there’s a chance that our first choice halfback, fullback and a winger can come back from injury and possibly inspire a win, that’s a chance worth taking. It backfired badly, but surely its better to try and fail than to sit here and wonder what would’ve happened if we didn’t?
Over here right now the team that’s throwing caution to the wind as usual is the Wests Tigers, abysmal two weeks ago when they got tonked by the Titans of all teams, they came out and smashed top of the table Souths. Like us they are unlikely to make the playoffs, sitting four points behind, but all you can ask a team to do is go out and keep winning, and hope that other results go your way. Talking of results going your way…. Poor, poor Canberra. They’ve now been robbed of at least six competition points this year with appalling refereeing decisions coming against them, the latest of which was just about the worst I’ve seen in 40 years of watching the sport. Ricky Stuart said in his press conference that he’d torn his players apart and demanded to know why they hadn’t played to the whistle, and assumed that play would stop for the obvious knock on in the build up to one of the Sharks tries.
The trouble is, they had. The touch judges flag had gone up and the “pocket” referee had audibly said knock on, so they all stopped. The main ref allowed play to continue and sent it up to the video ref… the “bunker” then got it spectacularly wrong (Chris Green at Magic a few years back wrong) and awarded a try. Then this was compounded by a forward pass call against the Raiders when the ball was at the very worst flat, Ricky blew a gasket and rightly so.
To sum up, its awful when we lose…. And its great that as a team, a club and as a bunch of supporters we won’t put up with abject performances anymore, we had YEARS of mediocrity, we were punch drunk watching some of the stuff we have especially under Agar, it’s a sign of how far we’ve come that people see 5th as failure even after the injuries we’ve had. Now get behind the boys, remember it could be worse, we could’ve just signed a human urine dispenser…
Until next time, Up the Cream, Gerremonsard and Come on you ‘Ull.
Rich – Twitter @pommyrich