A turbulent week got even worse for Hull FC as they went down 24-8 to Salford at the AJ Bell Stadium on Friday night.
Here are the Five Things Up the Cream learned.
1.. Uselsss attack
Of course these things can happen in sport, no-one goes out with the intention to lose, but that was really poor, and there’s nothing wrong in saying so. Hull FC’s attack was useless. Okay, we’re missing both Danny Houghton and Albert Kelly, but you’d at least expect a back to back Challenge Cup winning side to produce a bit more than that.
Yes there were some fairly decent exit sets, and in truth making metres and getting downfield was never a problem, but in Salford’s red zone we were absolutely shocking. Wrong options were taken time and time again and there seemed to be no general idea on how to breach the oppositions defence. There was plenty of chances too. Just no penetration. That was one of the worst displays I’ve seen in a while. There was little enthusiasm, no flair, and we got exactly what we deserved.
2.. Jamie Shaul is out of sorts, but he’s not the only one
Hull FC’s fullback was terrific against St George Illawarra in Australia, but he’s finding life difficult in Super League this year.
On his day Shaul is an outstanding player and he is capable of producing some superb individual plays, but his pivot qualities remain in question. It’s hindering the attack, which is becoming unstuck when he comes out the back of the wedge play. He struggles to find the final pass too, tending to either switch back or run the play out.
However Shaul is far to blame for all of the current problems, but it’s a notable aspect. His strengths were notable again at Salford and that was his running from dummy half. He had a spark there. At times he was dangerous and he asked some questions, but he’s not a pivot.
He wasn’t helped by his half back either. Marc Sneyd offered very little, which was a disappointment as the go-forward was there.
3.. A chance missed
Liam Watts’ departure from Hull FC dominated the rugby league news this week with speculation aplenty on the reasons for it. It’s a decision that can either tighten or break up the current squad and that performance will do little to convince people it’s the former right now.
That was a perfect opportunity for us to hit the ground running and show that we’ve moved on from it, and we blew it. Question marks and doubt now naturally come into place. Was that a message? Well it was a gutless display. We were absolutely pathetic and showed little enthusiasm. Of course I could be going really right field here and be talking absolute nonsense. I’d like the squad to prove that is the case with a hammering of Catalans next week.
4.. League Position starting to become concerning
That was an important two points that passed us by. This is now the worst start Hull FC have had to a season since they became a top four contender. That’s two wins from six now and with four defeats already we are looking up rather than down.
We are a quarter of the way through the regular season now and we need to start picking up some wins quickly. Some will point to the fact there’s still 24 games to go including the Super 8s, but you want to stay in check with the top four going into the summer. The more you play catch up, the harder it gets.
5.. Kicking options
It was interesting to hear Radford criticise Hull’s last tackle plays at Salford as I thought they were atrocious. What is getting me right now is our short kicking game. It’s been excellent but we don’t utilise it enough. Last week at Leeds we saw Hadley score off a Sneyd kick and the same happened here, although off the boot of Connor instead. We forced repeat sets at Leeds through kicks on the ground but we saw none at the AJ Bell.
Why aren’t we building pressure? The short kicking game is clearly working so why not do more of it? Instead we saw more high bombs that were unchallenged and came to nothing. We’ve got to be smarter. Johnathan Thurston is a pass master of it. Kick to the in-goal and at least make your opposition bring the ball out. It’s not like we’re short on a quality kicker either. A small but infuriating, well to me at least, point.
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