It wasn’t pretty, in fact it was darn right ugly at times, but for Hull FC it’s job done, defeating Wakefield 26-16 to move level on points with second placed Warrington on the Super League table.
That last bit sounds a wee bit good at least. Joint second with four games to go. Dizzy height territory, especially when you consider what was expected of Hull FC this year and that’s not much. But this is a side that goes away from the norm, one that can give you complete utter ecstasy and frustrate the hell out of you all in eighty minutes. To some extent that was the case at Wakefield, sublime in parts whilst conservative in others.
By no means was that performance perfect, and in fact better displays have actually brought with them defeats this year, but right now it’s all about the competition points, and these two to take home from West Yorkshire are priceless. That was a vital win, a tenth away victory of the season with just three away defeats (four if you include the Magic Weekend gimmick) concluding in a mental stat, even more so when you consider Hull have won just four from ten at home. A need to reinstate home comforts then with three of the last four regular season games coming at Allamland – no texting allowed though.
This trip to Belle Vue was a bloody hard watch. Both the ruck and the ten were a joke resulting in a slow game. It was tedious and at times it bordered on the farcical. It’s not the first time it’s occurred with this referee either, but such criticism isn’t down with the rugby league hipsters in 2019 so we won’t get sinister. Some player accountability comes into the fold here too, but the policing of the game comes down to the man with the whistle, and his lack of authority contributed to a sequence of rucks that were longer than the time it took Richard Whiting to run 100 metres at this very ground eight years ago. Where does the time go?
But still a wins a win. Not many will look back on this game in a few weeks time and pay attention to anything other than the fact Hull FC won. The Airlie Birds were undoubtedly deserved winners. That isn’t even up for question. Five tries to three, Hull had a first half purple patch to thank for victory, but that’s the thing about this side – when the attack clicks you’re left in awe to the sublime execution of each play, but when they switch that fluency for a more conservative approach you’re left scratching your head especially when the errors come, of which they were plenty. Hull had no issue turning the screw on Wakefield but then took the foot of the gas. That ultimately paved the way for a few nervy moments near the end when they should have been out of sight.
It’s an approach that is baffling to the perfectionist, but then again Hull have rarely been like the free-flowing St Helens sides over the years and to be honest given the pummeling we got here last year most people will be content with a ten point win. But it’s the flashes of brilliance that make you long for more. That step from Marc Sneyd. That second Ratu Naulago try. That booming Jake Connor pass to Carlos Tui-what’s-his-name. Magic moments that were few and far between in what was at times a bore fest, and magic moments that make you again scratch your head when we elect to go for goal from a penalty, screw it up, put ourselves under pressure and then concede. This is Hull FC though, we only ever do things the hard way.
When you factor in the slow pace of the game, it’s probably naive to focus too much on the negative. Notoriously so, Hull have purple patches where they reach a ridiculously good level but then they struggle to maintain or match that throughout. Luckily enough points were posted during that purple patch and that’s what matters. There were positives too. Plenty of them. Once again Tuimavave was absolutely outstanding, evading tackles for fun, making metres and just being a general pest. He’s a brilliant player. Sneyd also controlled the first half with an excellent individual try and two impressive 40/20s. Meanwhile the Fijian sort on the right wing produced another spectacular effort in his own personal try of the season competition.
Despite being named in the 19-man-squad, there was no debut for new signing Tevita Satae, meaning young Jack Brown got a second Super League run out. The prop was very good again. He’s a firecracker with bags of potential who impresses every time you watch him. Gareth Ellis too had a mountain of a first stint. Those minutes into the old war-horse are priceless. There were some good factors despite a slow start.
Wakefield hit the front first with Ryan Hampshire scoring, before four Hull tries followed. Bureta Faraimo scored with an element of fortune, before Tuimavave intercepted to race away. Then it was some Sneyd magic before Naulago touched down. Hull found favourable field position hard to come by in the second half, and just the one try was posted. It was the best of the lot though as Tuimavave weaved his way around defenders before unleashing Naulago. Poor defence no doubt from a Wakefield point of view who are in a real rut right now, but mesmerising for us to watch a Hull winger with that sort of speed. The home side got two consolation scores through former Black and Whites Joe Arundel and Jacob Miller and whilst that took some gloss away from the win, it does little to take away the satisfaction when looking at that league table.
The worry now is the well-being of Connor, who again wasn’t firing on all cylinders and post-match had his ankle strapped and in a boot, not to mention Jamie Shaul who was also taken off. You could argue then that some chop and change disrupted the side hence a stale second half, yet whilst this is a match most will look to put to the back of the memory, the magnitude of it could be massive. Hull FC are certainly in the play-off mix, but how far they can go is still a lottery.
Wakefield Starting XIII: 1. Ryan Hampshire, 5. Ben Jones-Bishop, 4. Reece Lyne, 3. Bill Tupou, 38. Morgan Escare, 6. Jacob Miller, 7. Danny Brough, 36. Kelepi Tanginoa, 9. Kyle Wood, 15. Craig Kopczak, 12. Danny Kirmond, 18. Joe Arundel, 19. James Batchelor. Interchange: 13. Tyler Randell, 8. David Fifita, 40. Adam Tangata, 23. Chris Annakin.
Wakefield Tries: Hampshire, Arundel, Miller. Goals: Hampshire 2/3
Hull Starting XIII: 1. Jamie Shaul, 33. Ratu Naulago, 3. Carlos Tuimavave, 4. Josh Griffin, 2. Bureta Faraimo, 14. Jake Connor, 7. Marc Sneyd, 8. Scott Taylor, 9. Danny Houghton, 19. Masimbaashe Matongo, 22. Jordan Lane, 12. Mark Minichiello, 34. Gareth Ellis. Interchange: 10. Josh Bowden, 20. Brad Fash, 37. Jack Brown, 30. Danny Washbrook.
Hull Tries: Faraimo, Tuimavave, Sneyd, Naulago 2. Goals: Sneyd 3/6
Hull 3-2-1 Man of the Match: 3pts Carlos Tuimavave, 2pts Ratu Naulago, 1pt Marc Sneyd
Scoring System: 6-0, 6-6, 6-10, 6-16, 6-20, 6-26, 10-26, 16-26
Referee: Liam Moore