Hull FC have finally got the monkey off the back – winning 23-22 at Wigan to abolish the losing run and get their 2019 Super League season up and running.
Here are Five Things Up the Cream learned.
1.. Hull FC have still got it
Optimists have been telling anyone who will listen that this Hull FC team still has the makings of something. It’s not as formidably strong in the forward pack as it was in 2016 but it has the same mental qualities. However you could argue that it’s become more creative and boasts more exciting players – Kelly, Connor et al. Whatever your thoughts though, there’s no denying it still has quality and the potential to achieve the unthinkable.
This Hull FC team is full of desire and effort under Lee Radford and the best thing about going to the home of the Super League champions is that they feared nothing. Hull FC were confident, ballsy and fully deserved their win. They played tough. They dug it out when they needed to, but also showed flashes of brilliance.
It would have been a travesty if Hull FC lost, it was a great display and historically polished off with Marc Sneyd’s Golden Point drop-goal, the first ever in Super League. We must kick on and build on this now, starting at Huddersfield next week.
2.. Being clinical
When Taulima Tautai was sin binned it was imperative Hull FC scored. Luckily we did. Jake Connor spoke mid-week about being clinical during our momentum shifts in games and here we can be satisfied with what we saw. Ironically though, and whilst we posted three first half tries, there were one or two more opportunities to kill the game off after the break that we didn’t take, and the more ruthless we are, the more beneficial it will become.
On the contrary though this is Wigan, and we don’t care if they’re in a transitional period under Adrian Lam, any win at the Pie Dome is an achievement, and that’s our third in four years. Given our rancid history at Central Park and the DW Stadium, that’s pretty impressive.
As for Hull, we posted points on the board when on top, and hung on enough for Marc Sneyd to deliver when it matters. Get in there.
3.. Captain material?
Danny Houghton put in an incredible rugby league performance at Wigan. He was explosive with the ball, scooting terrifically, and was workmen-like in defence as always, but he’s too honest, and does that make for a good captain?
Here’s one example: Two Wigan defenders dump Gareth Ellis on his head. His legs were clearly above the horizontal. Houghton should have been screaming in Thaler’s face – like McGuire has done his whole career – but instead he was waiting for the tap restart following the penalty. Sometimes you’ve got to be the bastard. You’re the captain – you’re allowed to be.
This is not a dig at Houghton – as said above his performance was incredible and he will go down a Hull FC legend and rightly so. He bossed the game. If anything it’s testament to the bloke he is. He’s honest and has always been polite when UTC has met him – that’s why we were happy to support him during his testimonial year. We just need to see him challenge the officials – O’Loughlin did, Sneyd tried to – our Man of Steel should too.
4.. Gareth Ellis
Eyebrows were raised when Hull FC head coach Lee Radford named Gareth Ellis in his 19-man-squad. Some were excited, but negativity also churned out – including from our own fan base….
We guess that negativity has worn out now.
You never lose it. Ellis is still a class act and maybe this is us being selfish, but now we know he retired too early. He could have easily done a Steve Menzies and played on until he was 53.
Once Ellis entered the field the side lifted. That’s the biggest complement you can give him. That’s what immortality status does. His presence alone is enough – it just helps that he provided the odd bone crunching tackle and strong carry too. Just ask Gabe Hamlin.
5.. He who laughs the longest
UTC won’t take the moral high ground here. We have criticised Mickey Paea. We have criticised Mark Minichiello. We have even criticised Masimbaashe Matongo. At Wigan they were like their old selves. Much more like it. Paea made an impact and Minichiello was a threat when he got the ball. He crabbed to effect and looked for the offload. If you fancy pieing us in the face lads you know what to do – especially you Masi. An outstanding display.
The only exception is Sika Manu. He’s come in for some stick, but due to the fact we’re petrified of him, we can never say a bad word. Thankfully he was phenomenal here.