Hull FC coasted to a fine 48-12 victory over Toulouse on Saturday afternoon.
Here is our Five Things.
1.. Ticking Along
Hull have now played every team in Super League once, winning seven of them and losing four, sitting in fourth place on the table after five consecutive wins at home. Not bad.
That was a really good performance against Toulouse as well. After two gritty wins over Warrington and Catalans, to pull away from their opponent should delight Brett Hodgson, who’s side played some vibrant stuff and scored some outstanding tries after a shaky start.
It follows similar wins over Salford and Leeds where Hull were ruthless, taking their chances and getting the points on the board. It’s something they’ve not necessarily done in recent years, so to have three big wins already this year, four if you include Sheffield in the cup, is pleasing.
This Hull side have also shown in wins over Wakefield and Huddersfield that the defensive side of their game is strong and that they can grind teams out when needed.
They’ve got a monstrous pack who would steal your dinner than brand you with the apple core, and some outstanding strike players too with plenty of guile and pace.
They’re a good team Hull, and right now they’re showing as much, but as always the challenge will be to keep at it.
Hull started last year well before the wheels fell off and there’s always a caution when it comes to optimism.
But after a mini blip, that’s three good wins in a row now, and with the disruption we are still seeing with frustrating niggly injuries and suspensions, it’s all the more impressive.
Whilst there’s still some things to sort out going forward, Hull are quietly going about their business. They have a plan and they won’t deviate from that plan. Hopefully they can really kick on now.
2.. The Youth
This drum needs banging as hard as a Manu Ma’u carry. It’s youth that is one of the best things about Hull at the moment and it’s youth that is the current direction.
Connor Wynne was outstanding yet again, scoring his second hat-trick of the season and being a constant threat on the left edge. He has pace to burn and must be a complete pain in the backside to deal with.
Then there’s Denive Balmforth coming on for his debut and scoring a try two minutes later. The young hooker is highly thought of and looked sharp with some neat distribution.
The likes of Jack Brown, Brad Fash, and Jordan Lane too are solid and dependable every week.
Don’t forget Ben McNamara or Cam Scott either, with Davy Litten and Jacob Hookem waiting for their opportunities.
This is Hull’s direction. Get several of these lads lining up and fill the rest of the squad with some smart recruitment and retention.
It’s exciting, but of course patience is the name of the game with Fash being the prime example.
He’s a proper larker now and there’s a lesson there for all of us. Let’s get behind these young players. They’re not only the future of the club, but the present too.
3.. Manu Ma’u
The Tongan Terminator was absolutely outstanding against Toulouse. He ran strong all game, storming through gaps, making meters galore, offloading the ball, setting up tries, and hitting hard in defence too.
Into his third year at Hull, Ma’u is out of contract come the end of the season, but he is making a case for another year.
Obviously, Hull don’t want to keep making the same mistakes over and over again and keep players too long, but it’s getting increasingly difficult to ignore Ma’u for their 2023 plans.
He’s been nothing short of phenomenal this year and is right up there in the top bracket.
Right now, he’s everything that the club promised when they signed him, and right now, he warrants another deal.
4.. The Mac
One of the main things Brett Hodgson wanted to bring to Hull was speed, and in letting two big outside backs leave the club to be replaced by Adam Swift and Darnell McIntosh, he’s done exactly that.
Alright, Swift was already on the books when Hodgson came in, but he was well down the pecking order. However, McIntosh is very much a Hodgson signing.
Quick, elusive, and with tidy footwork, McIntosh was the second Hull player to get a hat-trick against Toulouse. His first try was lethal and the second and third were all about finishing off sweeping team moves.
But amongst the tries, it’s McIntosh’s work rate that is nothing short of outstanding.
He runs over a mountain every game for this side, getting quick play of the balls, and at 24 years young, he fits into the current youth direction as well.
Everything this sort does is all about pace, and there’s no substitute for pace. It’s exactly the way to go.
5.. Cautious Optimism
This year is a prelude to transition, there was always going to be ups and downs, and in all honesty, at the start there was more excitement on how Hodgson would shake his squad up for 2023. However, the reality is there’s plenty to go at for 2022 as well.
Of course, this Hull side still has some flaws and some limitations, but it has some bloody big threats too. Hull aren’t a bad side by any stretch of the imagination and we’ve always been confident that they could challenge for a top six finish.
Never mind top six, Hull currently sit fourth. We can’t write off the right here, right now.
Things can change quickly, just look at the swing of the last nine games, but right now there’s room for some cautious optimism.
Hull have nothing to fear. Attitude wise they’ve been there or there abouts, and as far as consistency goes, they’ve done alright given the disruption they’ve had.
Again, the tide can change, and up next is no less than threepeat champions St Helens, but right now at least we’ve got to be satisfied with what we’ve seen.
Come on you Ull.