Hull FC got their second win of the year over Castleford with a 32-28 victory at Wheldon Road.
Here’s Up the Cream’s Five Things column.
1.. Sniper Sneyd
It’s the story that gets told over and over again but it’s the one we never get tired of hearing. The Iceman. The man for the big occasion. Marc Sneyd is just absolutely brilliant and once more he showed just how valuable he is to to this Hull FC team.
When the chips are down Sneyd is the go to man. That left boot. One swing. That’s all it takes. It happens so often and we all know the script now. The most important player at this club bar none and certainly the one with the biggest influence. That winning play to put the try on a plate for Jake Connor was excellent. It took some balls to attempt it too, being a high risk play in the final two or so minutes with an all or nothing outcome, but like so many other Sniper Sneyd moments, it was executed to absolute perfection.
2.. Individual quality
After almost throwing away a game they should never have been in danger of losing, Hull responded late on to finally ensure the two points – or these days an increase in the win percentage – were going back home. It wasn’t a convincing win though and it should have been much more comfortable than it was but they all count.
The amount of unforced errors undid the good work and kept a poor Castleford side in the game. Even in victory those errors are rampant and it took a get out of jail card two minutes from time to win the game. Contrary to what Castleford constructed, not one of the Hull tries came from set structures either despite a big swing in the penalty count and therefore a favourable amount of possession and field position. Ultimately the individual quality bailed Hull out.
It was a battle between two sides you could tell are struggling – Castleford’s discipline was absolutely shocking but Hull couldn’t capitalise and get themselves out of sight. It was frustrating as every lead was pegged back but some character was shown to keep going and get the winner.
Eventually that individual quality told – although the question marks remain on the blokes telling Hull what to do every week.
3.. McNamara debut one to remember
Teenage half back Ben McNamara made his Hull FC debut against Castleford and he didn’t look out of place. In fact he was very impressive and showed a maturity way beyond that of an eighteen year old.
McNamara, no not Steve, is highly regarded at the club and you can see why on that display. He hadn’t played for months due to the cancellation of this years reserve league, but he kept things simple, he provided an option whether through hand or boot and also got himself a debut try, supporting Jake Connor to go over under the sticks.
Ben is the 1161st player to line up for Hull and the third generation of the McNamara family to play for the club. Here’s hoping that’s the first of many and the opportunities continue to present themselves.
4.. Jake impresses at fullback
Hull announced the signing of Jake Connor whilst they were the best team in the land. Yes, 2016 was magical but it was Huddersfield away at the end of June that signalled the end of a then ten match winning streak.
Connor was instrumental that night. He played at fullback and ripped Hull apart. Since then his best exploits for both club and country have been at centre but that performance always lingered in the mind.
Following the injury of Kieran Buchanan, Connor got a run at one against Castleford and arguably put in his best performance of the season. He was brilliant and made things happen all game.
Without the pressure that the organising responsibilities of a half brings, Connor at fullback was free to roam around the field and pop up in the right places. His involvements were very good, having a hand in three tries and scoring one himself.
Connor at fullback for the future then? Well it’s a little more complicated than that and it probably depends on who gets the coaching gig, how young McNamara progresses, and what Hull’s view is for the six shirt, but it’s another option at least, not that the real Slim Shady will be happy about it. Connor is a better fullback than he is a halfback though. He’s also a better centre. He shouldn’t be playing six next year.
After months in lockdown and then copping a back injury that lasted longer than it was originally scheduled to do so, it was great to see Scott Taylor finally back playing for Hull FC. He’s a senior voice within this side, a leader, and he brings both a presence and an attitude that others simply lack.
Don’t get us wrong, the display of Hull was far from perfect and the way the lead was surrendered so suddenly is both worrying and predictable, but there was a grit about them to ignore Castleford’s niggle and keep going until the end to get a result. You get that grit from Taylor. He leads by both example and through his voice and it rubs off on others – with Joe Cator, Ligi Sao and Chris Satae all impressing. That can’t be a coincidence – it’s something this side have really missed in recent weeks and it’s something that was refreshing to see here. Welcome back, Tag.