Hull FC produced another shocker at the Magic Weekend – going down to a humiliating 55-2 defeat at the hands of Huddersfield.
It’s the third time in 2019 that the Airlie Birds have conceded over 50 points, and it came just seven days after a defensive masterclass at Warrington. That pretty much sums up Hull this season, Jekyll and Hyde, the sublime to the inadequate, the gulf between our best and worst is eye-opening.
The most frustrating aspect of it all is that Hull will probably be bang at it on Thursday in the Challenge Cup against Catalans. It’s a knockout fixture and we tend to save our best for these occasions. It also suggests we target our performances, we literally turn up when we want to, which is an insult to the fan that backs them every single week and to be honest suggests there’s a lingering attitude problem at the club – especially with certain players who are fine when things are going their way, but who don’t want to know when the going gets tough. There’s a chance to rectify that at the end of the season too and therefore some will inevitably be moved on. There can be no complaints either. These displays are happening all too frequently. It’s embarrassing.
Whilst humans are natural to error, they are not oblivious to hard work and there were none of the traits showed at Anfield to the ones showed at Warrington the week before. Effort is the bare minimum expectation. There was little here. The energy and desire in defence was pathetic and some of the tries Huddersfield scored were humiliating. They are an average team too, okay they have improved in recent weeks and they’ve got a superb young player in Darnell McIntosh, but the table doesn’t lie and to concede ten tries tells you how bad Hull were.
We’re playing a dangerous game. We know, having spent twelve weeks at the top in 2016, that the regular season means little unless you turn it on in the play-offs, but blimey, it doesn’t excuse defeats like that. Ironically even after a third shambolic loss of the year Hull are still fourth, but there’s a realisation that should the club miss out on the top five then these defeats will be pinpointed as the reason why.
Positives? You’re clutching to find them, but Josh Bowden on his return from a serious ACL injury was the best of a bad bunch. It was his first Super League game in over a year. He came onto the field and made an instant impression, unlike many of his team-mates. Jamie Shaul too never gave up. He was one of few that kept going during last years Super 8s, but unfortunately here was beaten by a bounce of the ball and some torrid defending in front of him. Mickey Paea’s first stint probably deserves him a mention too.
There’s players who didn’t play at the Magic Weekend who will most probably feature against Catalans next week – Danny Houghton comes to mind, maybe Andre Savelio and Gareth Ellis too. One can appreciate the decision not to risk them, but then you’ve got to put round pegs in round holes. The omission of Jez Litten was probably the most frustrating thing from the day, especially given the fact he performed so well for the Reserves on Thursday. Apparently Houghton was ruled out Friday, so if he was a doubt, why wasn’t Litten kept in the wings? He’s our second choice hooker and should be played in front of two back rowers who made an absolute car crash of the role.
People will say well it worked last week. Yes it did and we understood why Litten was left out then. Washbrook kept things simple at Warrington, but in the second half we literally had no field position and spent the game defending. It wasn’t a game built on strong hooker play. It was a game of defence. At Anfield, Hull’s passing from dummy half was horrendous. Sneyd and Kelly were catching balls at knee height or behind them. When Houghton is out the solution must be to play Litten, not Washbrook and not Hadley.
Hull actually had a lot of possession and favourable territory early on, but we couldn’t control the ball. Cue the hooker situation. Cue half-hearted efforts. The kicking game was poor too, and once silly errors started to creep in, all respect for the jersey was lost. Hull’s discipline was poor and the defensive contributions were pathetic. We couldn’t defend our line. None of the scramble seen at Warrington was on show here. Defence is all about desire, it’s all about how willing you are to get off your line, work with the bloke next to you and hit the opposition. Watching that it was like they didn’t give two shits. It was a complete insult to the thousands of fans who packed out the Kop – but then again that’s maybe what they deserved after half of them were swaying to You’ll Never Walk Alone pre-match. Wee bit of sick in the mouth then. But let’s put football allegiances and tongue in cheek comments to one side.
It was piss-poor, and as usual during these displays the longer it went on the worse it got. Defensively Hull were horrendous. We don’t just lose. We get hammered. We are masters of being consistently inconsistent. It’s pathetic. Some of these lads are legends of the club, but some now are tarnishing their reputations. Sadly as much as we love these boys when things are going our way, they’ve got to cop it when they’re shite. There’s too much smoke blown up their arse on that front.
Mentally there’s clearly a problem – how do solve that? Well that’s the million dollar question isn’t it. If Hull do beat Catalans in the Cup quarter-final, and to do that we’ll need to put in a shift, we’ll all be scratching our heads again. Something has to change though, as these losses are becoming too frequent. This year is absolutely pivotal in terms of recruitment and we need a drive like the one ahead of 2016. The door will be shown to others too, and based on results like this, no-one can dispute it.
On that front it wouldn’t be surprising if a new signing was announced to lift the mood ahead of the Cup game. Posting tweets about free shipping on online orders imminently after a shafting like that does little to dampen the mood when you’ve forked out hard-earned money to watch that abomination. In Any Kind Of Weather of course, but boy they make it difficult sometimes.
Hull Starting XIII: 1. Jamie Shaul, 33. Ratu Naulago, 14. Jake Connor, 4. Josh Griffin, 38. Kieran Buchanan, 6. Albert Kelly, 7. Marc Sneyd, 8. Scott Taylor, 30. Danny Washbrook, 23. Mickey Paea, 11. Dean Hadley, 12. Mark Minichiello, 13. Joe Westerman. Interchange: 15. Chris Green. 10. Josh Bowden, 21. Sika Manu, 20. Brad Fash.
Hull Tries: N/A. Goals: Sneyd 1/1
Hull 3-2-1 Man of the Match: 3pts Josh Bowden, 2pts Jamie Shaul, 1pt Mickey Paea
Huddersfield Starting XIII: 1. Darenll McIntosh, 2. Jermaine McGillvary, 4. Jordan Turner, 20. Jake Wardle, 32. Innes Senior, 6. Lee Gaskell, 22. Oliver Russell, 19. Matty English, 14. Adam O’Brien, 10. Suaia Matagi, 35. Joe Wardle, 12. Alex Mellor, 11. Aaron Murphy. Interchange: 9. Kruise Leeming, 8. Paul Clough, 13. Michael Lawrence, 17. Ukuma Ta’ai.
Huddersfield Tries: Joe Wardle, Jake Wardle, O’Brien 2, McIntosh 2, Mellor, McGillvary 2, Murphy.
Goals: Russell 7/10. Drop Goal: Russell.
Scoring System: 0-6, 0-10, 0-16, 0-20, 0-21, 2-21, 2-27, 2-33, 2-39, 2-45, 2-49, 2-55
Referee: Liam Moore