Hull FC opened their Super League campaign with a 18-16 defeat at Hull Kingston Rovers on Friday night.
Here are the Five Things Up the Cream learned.
1.. Point scoring was an issue
Hull FC had chances to score further tries and they should have posted more points on the board than they managed at Caravan Park.
Of course that transpires with missing both Jake Connor and Albert Kelly for various non chicken nugget related reasons, and it’s not a detriment to veteran stand in Danny Washbrook either, who took a break from building his wall to get two try assists on the night. Jamie Shaul too worked his socks off and didn’t deserve to be on the losing side.
The reality is we are talking about two of the most off the cuff most flamboyant players in Super League here. The Airlie Birds will naturally be, providing he keeps his gob shut, more fluent with Connor back in next week, and Kelly when he’s deemed fit to play.
As for Marc Sneyd he looks to have fully overcome his knee injury and he had his moments in his first competitive game back. His cut out pass for Faraimo’s try was superb, but the two missed kicks at goal proved costly.
2.. One more middle
The one area Hull FC failed to strengthen in the off-season was the middles. You can present a strong argument it’s the position where we needed a top class new face.
The 2016 squad boasted Liam Watts, Gareth Ellis and Frank Pritchard and since the trio left the club / hung up their boots / went completely bold, the only significant replacement has been Joe Westerman.
Scott Taylor and Josh Bowden are outstanding, whereas Chris Green is inconsistent and Mickey Paea so far is about as intimidating as Mickey Mouse – although he’s not as bad as ‘Mose Moose’.
Masimbaashe Matongo put in one of his best performances in first grade on Friday. He’s only 22. Can he became the fearsome middle we desperately need to go alongside Taylor and Bowden? Time will tell. That was a good start though.
3.. Goal line defence looks improved
Throughout last season Hull FC conceded far too many points and some of their defensive shapes, especially on the edges, looked questionable.
In the Derby a lot of questions were asked of the Airlie Birds and they stood firm for the majority. Rovers scored two tries from kicks and the other was a crash over, testament in ways to the resolute nature of Hull’s defence. Theresa May take note.
Hull were under a lot of pressure in the first half and again early in the second. There was some huge last-ditch efforts and if that is replicated, then we’ll get more joy than sorrow. Maybe next time we’ll get the bounce of the ball and Lady Luck going our way.
4.. Super League got it right
Robert Elstone and his marketing gurus have pulled a blinder in opening the season with three huge fixtures.
For a first run out Saints v Wigan was a good battle on Thursday and for the neutral, even if to our detriment, the way the Hull Derby was decided in the last seconds probably made the neutral TV viewers and particularly Eddie Hemmings cream their pants.
With Warrington and Leeds still to come it’s been a huge opening weekend. Start as you mean to go on. It’s a big year for the competition, and so far they, even with little things like changing the balls back to Steeden, are getting it right.
What are the odds Ralph is knitting some voodoo dolls as we speak?
You can’t ignore the fact Hull FC were missing eight players – Fetuli Talanoa, Albert Kelly, Josh Bowden, Joe Westerman, Jake Connor, Chris Green, Lewis Bienek and Liam Harris – for the Derby.
There’s some real quality there and naturally any side would miss such a calibre of talent. However despite the absentees there was some encouraging signs from those that took to the field and an indication that the side will be just fine when it finally goes full tilt.
A lot of people seem to forget this is a Hull FC side still very much under-strength. We can’t wait until they’re all back, silencing the doubters and sticking two fingers up to Garry Schofield.