Hull FC were humiliated once again in Super League, going down to Salford 54-18 on Sunday afternoon.
Here is Up the Cream’s Five Things column.
1.. Same shit, different day
There were five months, 21 weeks and 150 days for Hull to linger over the Warrington debacle that signalled the end of Lee Radford’s reign as head coach. There was no lack of motivation even after such a wait, so it’s baffling to say the least to why such an abject performance was put in against Salford.
Let’s not hold back, it was an absolutely disgusting display, and all too familiar. There was no heart, no energy, no enthusiasm, nothing. Hull were flat with the ball and resembled cardboard cutouts more arthritic than the ones in the best stand without. It’s one thing to lose, but to lose like that can never be accepted.
The Hull Boys Club that produced immortals like Johnny Whiteley is sadly no more, but the Hull FC version must also be nearing its expiration date. That performance was hideous and changes must be made. Whilst that squad on paper is filthy and should be performing to a much higher level, such a horrendous outing cannot go unpunished.
There’s obviously a fine balance here, ringing the changes is perhaps unnecessary and could do more harm than good, but an example must be made.
Hull FC fans will always love Danny Houghton for what he’s done for this club and we’d love nothing more than for him to throw a massive custard pie in our face with a blinder, but time is not on his side. Attacking excellence starts from your nine and obviously it helps when you’re on a roll like Salford were, but the difference in quality from Mint and Joey Lussick was substantial. Lussick’s relationship with rugby league is healthy, whereas Hull’s hooker recently admitted he fell out of love with it.
That’s not just to pick on Houghton though. The reality is you could make a case for pretty much every player to be dropped but we’d start with the hooker and two wingers. Ratu Naulago and Mahe Fonua both had shockers and now face a nervous wait with Bureta Faraimo and Adam Swift two handy options.
Andy Last has come out and said one opportunity missed and you’re out. Let’s hope he means what he says – they’ll also be some younger blokes who missed out on Sunday who are on a lot less money, all chomping at the bit to play.
3.. The Coaching
A UTC Podcast guest (Jon if you must know) said to us last week that Hull would beat Salford comfortably and it would be the same methods used by Radford and then everyone would act like everything has changed when in reality not much has changed at all. Well he was half right.
It seems not much has changed after all, and it’s not really surprising. Despite players revving Andy Last up for tightening the ship blah blah blah, he was Radford’s right hand man, and whilst he is his own individual with his own ideas, he wasn’t going to rip the hymn sheet up and start again.
A lot of the structures, plays, patterns etc used against Salford will have been ones used under Radford for the past six years. A lot of the players will also be just as comfortable under Last as they were under Radford, perhaps even as pally.
Its harsh to write Last off after one game, albeit a disastrous one, but it’s also not naive to suggest Hull should have gone for the non cheap option and brought someone in to ruffle a few feathers. That’s a lot of fans preferred option and it’s not necessarily a detriment to Last, but more of a longing to freshen things up.
4.. Harsh realities
Are some of the Hull boys as good as we think they are? Well when you lose by fifty points (again), you do start to question a few things.
Ratu Naulago – Capable of moments containing pure brilliance but also partial to schoolboy errors that Bureta Faraimo for instance would get crucified for. Criminal sin bin.
Marc Sneyd – The man for the big occasion, that left boot has been magic for us, but he also has games where he is anonymous. Nobody’s perfect.
Jamie Shaul – Superb in broken field, but not the attacking fullback we crave. At least not on Sunday.
Danny Houghton – Sadly his distribution is nowhere near as effective as Super League’s top nines.
Mahe Fonua – Rocks and diamonds.
On the contrary.
Carlos Tuimavave – God.
Albert Kelly – Free. Love nuggets. Scores bucket loads of tries. Leaving.
Manu Ma’u – One of the best backs rowers in the NRL last season. We saw how destructive he is against Catalans.
Ligi Sao – He was absolutely immense before lockdown.
Josh Griffin – The comps form centre prior to lockdown.
Food for thought. Class is permanent though. Prove it, lads.
5.. The Salford Reds are rising
Amongst all the chaos, a few words on Salford… brilliant. They cut through Hull at ease from the word go and posting points was never a problem. Their coach Ian Watson produces magic over there – he’s turned Whinos ugly duckling Tui Lolohea into a swan, and gets the best out of a squad that financially at least is a lot lower than the majority in this competition.
Watson plays an entertaining brand of rugby too, has created a proper team spirit and culture where they fight for every inch, says the right things in the media, and is a genuinely likeable bloke. Say no more.