Hull FC got their fifth win of the 2020 season with a 26-23 victory over Wakefield on Thursday night.
Here is Up the Cream’s Five Things column.
1.. A win is a win
That old chestnut, but it’s absolutely bang on here. You can’t grumble too much at a win can you, despite it being scrappy and far from being the most inspiring win you will ever see. They all count though and there’s a bit of relief too. It would have been a catastrophe if Hull had thrown that one away from two comfortable looking winning positions.
Thankfully they didn’t and we can now look ahead to Sundays knockout tie against Castleford with the knowledge that some players will be fresh having sat this one out, and that Hull recently have served up their best stuff for the most prestigious of knockout competitions that has ever been or will be. Optimistic? Not quite. But stranger things have happened.
2.. The curious case of Jake Connor
So, another game passes where Jake Connor fails to set the world alight in the half back position and the pitchforks are out. But the fact is he is not hitting many strides playing in his favoured position right now but that goes hand in hand with what the team are producing. Hull are a shadow of their former self – it’s been a massive comedown from the season we all expected, and Connor has taken more stick than most for that.
Despite how brilliant the Snake is at centre, he has previously (contrary to opinion) excelled for Hull (and England) playing in the halves and there’s also a realisation that he probably doesn’t get into his current best position (madness innit) when Hull are at full tilt anyway due to the current form and metre making prowess of flying centres Carlos Tuimavave and Josh Griffin.
With Albert Kelly gone next year it leaves one outcome – Connor at six – so it’s probably about time we all accept it, even if we don’t want to, for that’s what it’ll be and we can do nowt about it. For sure there’s a challenge there for whoever the coach is, but it’s far from just a Connor problem, more a team problem. The attack needs ripping up and starting again anyway. It needs a completely fresh outlook – maybe then we’ll see the best of Jake Connor again.
3.. Connor Wynne, a ready made replacement?
That was Connor Wynne’s first Super League match in well over a year, in fact he hasn’t played much rugby league at all since he turned into prime Rocky Ballboa during a Reserves match against Featherstone last season. You wouldn’t have thought it though watching the young fullback on Thursday night.
Of course Wynne is still raw, but there’s a lot to like about him. He is full of energy and pace, he gets heavily involved, he isn’t afraid to produce that modern-day final pass that set the best away from the rest, and he also returns the ball well.
Its probably a bit early to say he’s a ready made replacement for Jamie Shaul but the fullback position has come under scrutiny recently and this young fella will fancy his chances. If he bides his time, remains patient and continues to take his opportunities, then there’s an encouraging future there for sure.
4.. Under the radar
Amongst all the big names of Ligi Sao, Manu Ma’u, Josh Jones etc, who’d have thought it’d be the latest branch of baby-faced assassin that would have the biggest impact… yep, what a signing Joe Cator is turning out to be – and for a lot less cap space too.
Cator has been brilliant in a Hull FC jersey so far and has brought so much energy to the side. He’s really stood out in wins over Huddersfield and Wakefield through hard work but also through a splash of the finesse stuff too.
Whilst the hit ups and defensive workloads are impressive, it’s the tip ons, out the back passes and general ball mileage that have really caught the eye. Those are the skills that will see him get the loose forward position in the long term and no-one will begrudge him that in his current form.
Jordan Lane is worth a mention too. A player who never ever lets us down with a first Hull try brace to his name as well. Up the Lane Train.
5.. Hull and Proud
Nine players (Wynne, Scott, Bowden, Houghton, Fash, Lane, Matongo, Brown and Buchanan) who turned out for Hull on Thursday all came through the clubs Academy systems, with another in Cator coming from the east of the city. Wakefield also had two in Lyne and Green.
Whether they’re from Hull or Timbuktu, quality is the most important thing, but make no bones about it some of those names are the best thing about Hull right now and it’s great to see them get and take their chances. Lee Radford was a big advocate for bringing them through and Andy Last, another bloke who will just be as familiar with them, has continued that on.
It also highlights the work done by all the community coaches in and around the city, who do a great job every season in nurturing our talent. Long may it continue.