It’s becoming a top four pipe-dream as Hull FC lost their ninth game in Super League this season – this time suffering a 29-18 defeat at Huddersfield on Thursday night.
Here are the Five Things Up the Cream learned.
1.. Minichiello has got the legs to keep going
It’s ironic how Mark Minichiello had his best game of the season just days after the club announced his new deal.
He’ll be 37 by the time next season starts and a lot of people, UTC included, were sceptical to whether or not he could carry on. That performance suggests he can. Hull FC were poor, but Minichiello was not. In 2015 style he ran hard and actually made an impact with his running.
There’s a message in there somewhere. Maybe we should of listened to our mums about the green stuff.
2.. Star contrasts
This Friday morning I watched Penrith Panthers smash New Zealand Warriors 36-4 despite nine first grade players missing through Origin call ups or injury. With the likes of James Maloney and Nathan Cleary missing in stepped Tyrone May and Jarome Luai. Luai was playing in only his second NRL game of his career but scored twice and kicked six goals. He was outstanding and showed why the Riff lead the way when it comes to junior development.
That’s obviously aided with a strong ethos at the Panthers but it also exploits the benefits of the different playing grades at the club. They also have a side playing in the Intrust Super Premiership which is effectively a Reserve grade for all of New South Wales’ NRL clubs. They also compete in the Academy league and the Penrith region has the biggest junior league in the world.
You can’t compare that to Hull FC who now have no Reserve grade and a controversial merged Academy. But what all the above does do is highlight why some of our players struggle when they reach the top level. They’re inexperienced. They’ve played solely at 19s level sprinkled with a few Reserve games and ventures playing in League One, where there’s more lard then in an amateur rugby union team and the realisation that most of them will be laying bricks come Monday morning. It’s not good enough. Our young players should be a lot more accustomed to first grade level, just like Jarome Luai was this morning. Maybe they would be, if we had a proper reserve grade…..
3.. Defensive problems
Hull FC have conceded far too many points this year and that along with injuries, bad luck and the length of the playing grass, is why they sit in fifth place on the Super League table. Whilst posting points hasn’t been a problem, conceding them has, and there’s one or two reasons to why that is.
Let’s not beat around the bush Hull’s edge defence is poor. Wingers constantly come infield and leave their wing more open than Brett Ferres’ love life. Huddersfield was not a one off either and it happens time and time again. Opposition sides are also making far too much ground against us. We’re losing the forwards battle and struggling for field position as a result.
4.. Poor display
Hull FC had chances to score at Huddersfield and in fact had the better of the opening ten minutes or so. Unfortunately though their attacking credentials were on par with Jamie Oliver’s ability to lose weight. The irony. There was little guile about our play and everything seemed to be crash, bang, wallop. Sometimes you need some poise and Hull showed little if any on this occasion.
Attacking sets near Huddersfield’s line were atrocious and the wrong option was taken on so many occasions. Things like passing long when we should have gone short, and hitting the lead line instead of the back really cost us. It got worse the closer we got to the try line too. That’s worrying. Marc Sneyd the saviour? Let’s hope so.
5.. Miloudi criticism, fair or unjust?
Hakim Miloudi had a mixed performance on Thursday night. He got the Sky Man of the Match, which shows what a mockery it is, but he did have a few decent moments. His try was excellent and he was a danger running the ball, but he also kicked dead and passed into touch twice. His defensive positioning wasn’t great either. They were positives, but there were negatives too – I’m with Lee Radford here, whoever picked that award has been spending too much time with Diego Maradona in Russia. Who have the Argies got this weekend again? Talking Balls World Cup special on Monday, I think.