Hull FC’s Challenge Cup run is over for 2019 after Warrington edged us out 22-14 in the semi-final.
Here is Up the Cream’s Five Things column from the defeat.
1.. Effort NOT in question
Social media is at it’s rancid worst when Hull FC lose. There’s already comments across the Forums that the side didn’t look interested, were shite, and god knows what else. Sometimes we wish we were banned from the lot of them, although the ‘mods’ did kick us off RLFans a few years ago.
Being a fanzine we like debate, and encourage different opinions, but to sit and stick the knife in and say we were shite etc after we were just two points behind going into the last minute seems over the top. It wasn’t a heavy defeat for starters, it wasn’t one of our arthritic cardboard cut out like performances where said comments were justified, in fact it was a great effort and we just came up short.
It was a bloody tough cup tie – Warrington got right into us and made life difficult. There’s no divine right to win every game and sometimes you just get beaten by the better team. We hate to admit it, but those Wires did a job on us. It’s disappointing and it hurts, but the aggression and knee jerks are unnecessary. Hull put the effort in to get back to Wembley. It just wasn’t our day. That’s sport.
2.. The marquee man
Warrington are paying Blake Austin more money than the RFL’s former chief Nigel Wood got for his severance payment. Think about that for a second. Austin didn’t exactly entice his reputation with Hull fans late on after Philbin’s try, nor for waving his arms about when Sneyd was taking a shot at goal (the shithouse), but he played in a dinner jacket in the semi-final. Sure there was no flashy feet or line breaks, but he was involved in everything. Austin got the ball out of the back, expanding Warrington’s attack, and he put huge pressure on us with his kicks.
That itself was the main difference between the two sides. Warrington’s kicking was brilliant and was evidently helped by favourable field position. Every last tackle play seemed to ask a question of us. They put us under constant pressure, peppering our left edge, and they got results from it scoring two tries. On the contrary we kicked a lot from mid-field after exit sets, with bombs not testing the likes of Stefan Ratchford at the back, who it must be said was superb on return. It was one area between the sides where a gulf was apparent.
3.. Holding down
Obviously we are Hull FC biased, but there seemed to be a hell of a lot of holding down by Warrington in the second half. It became more sinister the more desperate Hull got, yet nothing was given. The Wire had a second bite at us in the ruck on several occasions, especially when we tried to get a roll on.
When you’re struggling though you feel that the world is against you, and on the contrary when you’re on top you get away with more. That said surely one or two penalties should have followed. There were incidents late on where the Warrington tackler fell off the Hull player and then went back for more as he was playing the ball. Surely there has to be a line drawn. Do you criticise Robert Hicks there? Or do you praise him for letting the game flow?
4.. Fine margins
The big moments all fell Warrington’s way in the semi-final. There’s luck there of course, things like the Jamie Shaul disallowed try etc etc, but take no credit away from the opposition – they were smart and were deserved winners.
Hull had opportunities, but the margins between losing a game like this and winning it are so thin – for instance coughing up on play two when your tails are up, to failing to land four more points with missed goals. Massive plays, the difference between making a final and not. Hull didn’t convert them and that in a fixture between two sides that are so nip and tuck, is why we lost.
5.. Old Faithful
That was Hull’s first experience of a semi-final double header. The event sold out last year at the same venue but watching Catalans upset the much fancied Saints on the TV, it never looked full and wasn’t close to being so here. We’re undecided on the concept. It’s like Magic Weekend, you never get every set of supporters watching every game on the day, therefore there’s plenty of empty seats and that doesn’t look great.
We much prefer a stand alone tie. The recent trips to Doncaster were perfect at a near enough sold out venue – well except for the Wigan end. It felt a bigger occasion there too, but maybe we’re looking at this with rose tinted specs as the results in 2016 and 2017 were 100% better. Bolton is an impressive stadium, we’ll give it that, and the renditions of Old Faithful were spine tingling as always, but the ground was half full, and for two games of this magnitude, that just doesn’t seem right.