So that’s that then, Hull FC ended the 2019 season with a 6-22 defeat to St Helens – confirming a sixth placed finish and no play-off spot.
1.. The end of an era
The defeat to St Helens was Mark Minichiello’s final appearance in a Hull FC shirt, and the final game of an 18-year career that began in Australia, and now finishes in East Yorkshire.
And what a career it’s been. Minichiello has been sublime for the Airlie Birds. Whilst 2019 hasn’t seen him reach the heights of his first few years at the club, Mini’s effort, professionalism and commitment are never in doubt. He’ll go down as one of the clubs best ever imports and rightly so.
Elsewhere the club also said goodbye to Sika Manu, Danny Washbrook, Mickey Paea, Joe Westerman, Jack Logan and Levy Nzoungou.
Manu, Washbrook and Paea were paraded in a tunnel post-match, with St Helens players also staying on the field to show their appreciation. You can’t buy class. Good luck to the Saints in the play-offs – they’ve been sensational this year, and as for our departing players, thanks for everything.
2.. Having a dig
It’s the mandatory expectation, but Hull FC’s intensity was so much better against St Helens. We’ve been served up some dross in recent weeks, but the side had a dig here. The performance had flaws, but the effort and endeavour were both unquestionable. That’s been lacking recently, and it makes you think what could have been. There’s a sour taste to the ending of 2019, it was right there for the taking, but at least Hull have finished with a bit of fight.
The home crowd noticed that, and they got behind the team. It’s a simple equation really. The owner and head coach have both spoken about wanting to rebuild bridges with fans, stopping the sly digs at those forking out their hard-earned after we get flat pathetic performances at home would be a start.
3.. Being smarter
Whilst we whinge about Hull’s attack and defence, there’s a growing realisation that this team must play smarter.
Hull against Saints both failed to make touch from penalties and made continuous first tackle knock-ons. Cardinal Rugby League sins that put you under needless pressure. Also they make you defend more, and when you defend more your energy levels drop. When that happens your technique suffers under fatigue, meaning that cycle of errors both with and without the ball increases.
Hull have been really dumb at times this year. As a team they’ve really got to smarten up, be patient, and learn to put pressure on the opposition and not themselves. That’s both from plays one to five, and then the last tackle kicking option, which haven’t asked enough questions this year.
4.. Classy Carlos
We all see different things and we all have different opinions, but to the founding members of the Tooooooomavave fan club, it was complete utter madness that Carlos wasn’t amongst the four options for the Man of the Match. He was the best player on the field in Hull shirt, as he is most weeks.
Carlos’ consistency is ridiculous and he caused Saints a few problems. He runs the ball superbly, and glides around the field like a gazelle. He’s so under-rated, never mind outside of Hull where people don’t seem to know he exists, but even amongst our own fan base.
5.. Forward pack something to build on
We all know Radders loves his big lads and the pack assembled for 2020 will rival the one we saw in 2016.
There were glimpses against St Helens of what to expect next year. Tevita Satae got his first start for the club and he was outstanding. He packs a right punch. Also Scott Taylor and Josh Bowden had a dig, as did Masimbaashe Matongo and Brad Fash, laterally who has a decent year.
Hull’s forwards haven’t dominated opposition packs nowhere near enough this season, but here they weren’t the reason for defeat. To see some of Hull’s middles stand up to some of the league’s best props this year in Luke Thompson and Alex Walmsley bodes well for the future.
A pack of Taylor, Bowden, Satae, Sao, Ma’u, Jones, Matongo, Ellis, Fash, Brown, Lane, and Bienek shows some depth and will cause teams problems.