Once in a while, our editor Dan lets his team of writers off the lead. So welcome to ‘The Final Word’. A weekly column in which I decipher Hull FC’s performance from over the weekend. We like to keep it simple so we’ll simply review the Good, the Bad and the Ugly (No Rovers puns please).
There were plenty of positives to take out of Sunday’s game wasn’t there? In fact, I dare say Radders had more to draw on than ‘Old Father Sheens’. Taking into account that was essentially the Robins’ First-Team, you’d be a little worried in East Hull. Even with Shaun Lunt to return to the fold, the narrow scoreline and lack of physicality would be my worry about their squad right now.
Opposition aside, the usual suspects really impressed me. Jake Connor was superb with ball in hand and he has to start at centre ahead of Josh Griffin at the minute. His tries were simply top draw. Dean Hadley, fresh from his loan spell at Trinity, fitted back in with ease. Slotting in at both loose forward and hooker, his versatility makes him an automatic starter for me. Finally, Jordan Abdull showed great intelligence to slot in for a second half score. If Radford ever reverts to a more conventional loose-forward in the future, you’d have to assume he’d be first choice. Nevertheless, I expect he’ll start life on the bench as a handy utility option.
Of the youngsters and newcomers, Jack Logan showed shades of his 2015 self with lovely footwork. I’m sure the Gaffer will have no qualms throwing him in at centre should injuries bite. Notable mentions for Hakim Miloudi, Cameron Scott and Doncaster Dual Reg. man Liam Harris, who certainly showed flashes of their raw ability. Individuals certainly backed up their performances with a strong team effort too. Despite going behind repeatedly on the scoreboard, the lads showed great craft and resilience to lead 26-18 at one stage.
When I say bad, in terms of development, these are all things that happen with inexperience. Sporadic indiscipline, head explosion decisions and wild plays come with the territory but for the most part, the FC youth remained solid and scrambled well on the line much like their first-team counterparts in recent seasons.
What perhaps will disappoint Lee Radford is the glaring weaknesses on the defensive edges. Nick Rawsthorne looks an improved player from last season but had his moments. While Jack Sanderson, despite his opportunistic try, will be disappointed with his edge defence as both Will Oakes and Kieron Moss weaved through for scores. That said, these are the games to highlight the weaknesses and you can guarantee they’ll be improved players for the experience.
Masi Masoe? We jest of course, he’s an animal but not quite as fearsome as Sika Manu on a dark night. Besides a traditional bout of fisticuffs involving Abdull, it was a clean game played at a reasonably intense pace.
Dare we say it but sadly our Man in the Middle’s idea of controlling the game was to simply allow the spoiling to continue and let the opposition repeatedly creep offside. That’s a topic for another day but it’s an ominous sign of things to come in 2018.
What certainly wasn’t negative was FC’s cavalier approach to the game and with as many as 12 first-team players to return to the fold, the Airlie Birds can go into the Catalans game and beyond with quiet confidence.