Super League Round One – Sunday 08th February – Huddersfield 0 Hull 19 – John Smiths Stadium
Few people would have disputed Terry O’Connor’s take on Hull FC in his Super League preview ahead of the season opener, full of praise he labelled the Black and Whites a “good side with good defence and good go-forward, but one that has lacked direction”, and that’s pretty much the nail on the head.
Hull have been notoriously known for their hard grit when it comes to rugby league, but not their flair, but here both traits were seen in abundance.
Desperate for the steadiness given by a pivot, the acquisitions of Leon Pryce and Marc Sneyd have given the club cause for optimism. Lee Radford’s men have two half back’s held in high regard, they complement each other, and behind the latter’s left boot they proved too hot of a case for Huddersfield to answer.
From jersey number 1-17 and from minute 1-80 the visitors were outstanding, and were fully deserving of the two points. With a quite astounding following behind them, Hull gave Super League opposition a ‘nillin’ for the second time in four outings, and that alone outlined the significance of the achievement.
Hull haven’t won at Huddersfield since 2009, they were heavily dumped out the play-offs by a rampant Giants side just eighteen months ago. The John Smiths Stadium has maybe been the fairy-tale for Hull FC as a neutral venue, but far from it against the stadium’s tenants. This however was a different story.
From the moment Jamie Shaul touched down for his brilliant second, you knew it was game over. It was a magnificent individual effort, and highlighted the home-grown stars competence on the field. Though the victory was never as easy as such a result would suggest, Hull fought for every inch, in a performance of hard graft, grit, and built on solid foundations.
The term brick wall is used a lot in sport but Hull’s defence was more like steal – it was incapable of breach. The starting and interchange middle were both outstanding, and proved the catalyst to a remarkable win.
Liam Watts really came of age, and was instrumental from the countless bone crunching hits to the sheer potency in which he carried the ball. Owning the middle of the park, his presence along with the equally impressive back row gruesome twosome of Gareth Ellis and Mark Minichellio was the catalyst to a forward pack that was streets ahead of its opposition.
Hull’s management was exceptional and following good field position they capitalised. Crowd favourite Fetuli Talanoa was on end to grab the game’s first score, thanks to a quite startling and quite unbelievable Kirk Yeaman offload – something all rugby league fans are certainly not accustomed to.
Marc Sneyd’s unique kicking style failed to add the extra’s but a penalty before the hooter ensured his side went back into the sheds 6-0 up – following the taunts off Giants marque man Danny Brough.
To say the Scotland international was the least popular of personnel amongst the Hull folk would be an understatement, and after observing his constant moaning and complaining to referee Tim Roby you could see why. However amongst all that, Brough’s current whereabouts are unknown, after last being seen in Setaimata Sa’s back pocket.
Hull showed no sign of dropping their intensity in the second half, as their defensive resilience was tested once more. Huddersfield desperately attempted to gain a foothold on the match, but to no avail. They asked the question, but got no answer. The visitors, led by the freakish line speed of Danny Houghton were just too quick, and shut every opening down.
The gulf was beginning to tell, and from a perfectly weighted Marc Sneyd kick, Jamie Shaul pounced for the first of his brace, and in doing so put daylight on the scoreboard and sent the Hull fans into delirium.
Sneyd’s influence was growing, that left boot is just majestic and behind Leon Pryce’s management it was a partnership better than that of Han Solo and Chewbecca.
It told and following such a link the talented fullback Jamie Shaul grabbed his second try with a sublime turn of pace and agility. In, out, shake it all about. Twisted and turning Shaul made a mockery of the Giants defence, but more to his credit, showed all before him his ever growing capability.
Marc Sneyd then added a one pointer to put the result beyond question, showing itself the game awareness that Hull have lacked for far too long.
Some latch ditch defence followed, as the away side took total pride in keeping that zero next to their opposition’s name permanent. It’s some achievement, and should never be under-appreciated. Defence wins matches. Remember that.
Recording such a domineering victory sends out a marker. Yes its only Round One, but Hull FC weren’t tipped for much this season, and that result should raise a few eyebrows. Be that on its own one step of a list of redemption, as the Airlie Birds look to resurrect themselves during their milestone year. Last season is in the history books now, all focus is on the Hull FC of 2015 – and they look red hot.
Huddersfield Starting XIII: 5. Aaron Murphy, 2. Jermaine McGillvary, 3. Leroy Cudjoe, 4. Joe Wardle, 18. Jodie Broughton, 6. Danny Brough, 20. Jamie Ellis, 10. Craig Huby, 7. Luke Robinson, 15. Craig Kopczak, 11. Brett Ferres, 12. Jack Hughes, 13. Chris Bailey. Interchange: 8. Eorl Crabtree, 9. Shaun Lunt, 17. Ukuma Ta’ai, 19. Anthony Mullally.
Huddersfield Tries: NIL. Goals: NIL
Hull Starting XIII: 1. Jamie Shaul, 2. Tom Lineham, 3. Setaimata Sa, 4. Kirk Yeaman, 5. Fetuli Talanoa, 6. Leon Pryce, 7. Marc Sneyd, 8. Mickey Paea, 9. Danny Houghton, 10. Liam Watts, 11. Gareth Ellis, 12. Mark Minichiello, 13. Joe Westerman. Interchange: 21. Richard Whiting, 15. Chris Green, 22. Josh Bowden, 16. Jordan Thompson.
Hull Tries: Talanoa, Shaul 2. Goals: Sneyd 3/4 DG: Sneyd
Referee: Tim Roby