Still no win for Hull FC, but it shouldn’t be all doom and gloom just yet, despite a 26-18 loss to Castleford in Round Two of Super League.
Here are the Five Things Up the Cream learned.
1.. Difference in performance level noticeable
Headline makers will be out in force mentioning the fact that Hull FC have now lost 13 games in a row over two seasons. The difference though is that this years displays are not comparable to the cancerous performances we saw during the Super 8s. So the sensationalist headlines can do one.
Given some more luck Hull FC could have quite easily have won both matches we’ve lost this year, but that luck hasn’t been on our side.
The good news though is that despite the losses, the desire is back. The effort is unquestionable and we saw a huge difference to the quality of our play with two of our creative players back. Add Albert Kelly and some middles to that and we will have some fortune sooner rather than later.
2.. Shaul the star man
That was a ridiculously good performance from Jamie Shaul. He was the best player on the pitch by a country mile, popping up as a threat all over the field, and breaking tackles despite the unfortunate hindrance of being eight stone piss went through.
At 26-years-old the hometown larker is maturing like a fine wine, maybe even into a bottle of ‘Head’, we’ll let Adam Maher be the judge of that, but puns aside, there’s quality here. Shaul made his senior England debut in the Autumn against France, and he looks to have kicked on from that milestone.
Admirably so, Shaul puts every ounce of energy into his display every time he plays for Hull FC, and this was the pacey fullback at his brilliant best. Sure there’s better ‘pivot’ fullbacks out there, but UTC wouldn’t trade ours for anyone.
Like a true gent, Shaul donated his Sky Man of the Match £250 to Adam Maher and his family. Class really is permanent.
3.. Westerman return
Few fans predicted the eminence of Joe Westerman when he re-joined Hull FC mid-way through last season. In fact, his signing was met with the usual moans and groans from the social media gremlins. The fat lady is singing now though. To be honest our editor is too after arguing with anyone who opposed his meltdown when Joe left the club in 2015.
Westerman fills the ball playing middle vacancy, one who can shift play, distribute and still run the hard yards when required.
Considering that was his first appearance since July last year, we can certainly be optimistic about what he’ll bring to the side this season. It was just great to see him back out there. The fan club is blooming.
4.. The injury front is genuine
We’ve got a serious problem at Hull FC. Either someone at the club is continuously running over black cats or a club foe has seriously mastered the art of voodoo. Tiresome, and a subject we are all sick of, but the reality is the injury front is doing more to kick us in the knackers than most right now.
It’s gutting that virtually every time we’ve welcomed key players back over the past year and a bit that we suffer from a fresh injury. Take this week for example. Both Connor and Westerman return, but then Hadley pulls out with an abdominal strain. If that’s not enough Matty Dawson then goes and does his ACL in training, TRAINING, and is now out for the rest of the season.
It’s an eternity since Lee Radford had the luxury of picking his strongest side. Surely there’s got to be some light at the end of the tunnel?
5.. Jake the Snake definitely a target
Jake Connor is the pantomime villain. Everyone attached to Hull FC loves him, but oppositions loathe him.
Despite Castleford’s best attempts to wind him up, Jake kept his cool, and he let his rugby do the talking. There’s a highlight reel for every game he plays now. Some of his plays are out of the top draw and you’ll struggle to find a more naturally gifted player in Super League.
In future matches they’ll be attempts to get under Connor’s skin. It’s what our maverick does best after all, but he must keep his head in check, like he did here. If he does that then the only beneficiary is Hull FC.