Forest Gump quoted ‘Life is like a box of chocolates, you never know what you’re gonna get’, and that term, of course infamous from two hours of absolute film perfection, adequately describes Hull FC in 2018 better than any superlative I can allude to right now.
Coming away from an absolutely outstanding 36-12 victory over Castleford, many emotions are running through me. That was just superb, and there’s no denying Hull was just that for large parts of the match, but what’s so frustrating is where was that intensity last week in Catalans? That hunger and desire was absent, unlike the two home fixtures either side of it which have seen the Black and Whites at our brilliant best. It’s infuriating really, but I get it, sometimes it’s just not your day and that can happen, despite how much you try to not let it unfold like that, but blimey, if this side can mount up even a fraction of consistency together, we’ll be competing at the top end for honours once again, make no mistake there.
That’s the challenge for this team now, and it’s one they must face with three games on the road ahead before a return to the KCOM Stadium, a venue where they have won six out of six this season. Hull when on song are a match for anyone, but when they’re not on their game they have a tendency to look like a bunch of arthritic cardboard cut-outs that even Stevie Wonder could run rings around. There’s a big difference in the best and worst of this team and you only have to look at the yo-yo nature of the last three performances. So with that in mind talk of any silverware, like labelling our home ground a fortress after half a dozen games, is probably a bit premature, but still, it’s something to build on and there’s knowledge that if we sort out our own form we’ll be there or thereabouts.
I’m still confident in saying that but we have to justify such a statement by first overcoming a difficult proposition in Featherstone on Thursday night, and then by overcoming the two Super League fixtures against Rovers and Warrington. With fixtures elsewhere four points there could really pull some strings for us, but let’s not look into the future too much.
Sticking with the present, Hull FC were magnificent in periods against Castleford. Their ball movement was excellent and their defence was equally as good. The home side played with a purpose and their energy levels and intensity were great during a game that flowed really well, and credit there must go to Gareth Hewer, who used his own initiative with no video referee in attendance, and what a big refreshment that was. That ensured a rampant start and before the Tigers knew it they had been blitzed. Hull were ruthless at times and took their opportunities, with some familiar faces and a returning hero leading the way.
Making his second debut for the club Joe Westerman can look back on that showing with some real positivity. He looked at home playing in the irregular hoops, made an impact from first receiver, spread the ball, drove it in and complemented our shape. Hull FC are definitely in for an exciting imminent future with Westy playing the old school loose forward role. He’s a player alright, and that was some return. It was like he was never away, but in truth the glorious Summer evening belonged to Jake Connor.
What a baller he is. Connor is ridiculous at times. An absolute class act he ran the show and showed great maturity after Marc Sneyd’s injury. He kicked four goals, had a hand in several tries, and place kicked and passed effectively throughout. Though it was a real team effort and that was exemplified no better than from Scott Taylor’s performance. Tag has been superb for weeks on end now and he continued that form. Tireless in attack and defence, he got one up on his opposite number and pantomime villain Liam Watts, who, on returning to his former employer, was on the end of some friendly jests from the home crowd. Hopefully Big Jud will see it as just that. Booooooooo.
Building up a 20-6 lead Hull owned the first half thanks to a try brace from the mister himself Sika Manu, not to mention efforts from Jamie Shaul and the impressive Bureta Faraimo. The latter is really settling into this side now with a run of games free of head collisions, red cards and other bellendry. He’s excelling from it. He’s fast, strong, and looking more accomplished by each passing week. Only a Paul McShane consolation could be savaged for the visitors, who without scar tissue meff Luke Gale, were completely outplayed.
The tide threatened to turn so soon after the break following Sneyd’s knee injury, but luckily Hull showed a lot of maturity. Connor kicked a penalty goal before debutant Callum Turner hit back, but following some stern defence, the home side got second wind, and scored through Faraimo again.
At this point the Black and Whites were really good value for their lead, and they assured themselves of the two points with another boost through the gears. One last push earned another shot at goal from a penalty, before Josh Griffin rounded off the scoring with their sixth try.
But perhaps the most telling statement from Hull was in the final two minutes, and after gaining possession again, they toyed with their opposition with some sublime handling. All in all that was a much better display, a display that cements Lee Radford’s side back in the top four, though with their nearest rivals still having the luxury of a game(s) in hand, it’s something of a false pretence, but right now we’ll take it.
Hull Starting XIII: 1. Jamie Shaul, 2. Bureta Faraimo, 4. Josh Griffin, 3. Carlos Tuimavave, 5. Fetuli Talanoa, 14. Jake Connor, 7. Marc Sneyd, 8. Scott Taylor, 9. Danny Houghton, 13. Josh Bowden, 21. Sika Manu, 12. Mark Minichiello, 11. Dean Hadley. Interchange: 23. Mickey Paea, 15. Chris Green, 29. Masimbaashe Matongo, 33. Joe Westerman.
Hull Tries: Manu 2, Shaul, Faraimo 2, Griffin. Goals: Sneyd 2/4, Connor 4/4
Hull 3-2-1 Man of the Match: 3pts Jake Connor, 2pts Scott Taylor, 1pt Joe Westerman
Castleford Starting XIII: 21. Jake Truman, 2. Greg Minikin, 17. Alex Foster, 16. Joe Wardle, 4. Michael Shenton, 6. Jamie Ellis, 9. Paul McShane, 32. Liam Watts, 13. Adam Milner, 15. Jesse Sene-Lefao, 11. Oliver Holmes, 12. Mike McMeeken, 18. Matthew Cook. Interchange: 8. Junior Moors, 10. Grant Millington, 19. Gadwin Springer, 33. Callum Turner.
Castleford Tries: McShane, Turner. Goals: Ellis 2/2
Scoring System: 6-0, 6-6, 10-6, 16-6, 20-6, 22-6, 22-12, 28-12, 30-12, 36-12
Referee: Gareth Hewer
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