Two Super League points were crucial for Hull FC, and whilst they didn’t get everything their own way, and as far as awful cliches go, that’s all that matters as the home side recorded a 35-32 victory over Salford on Friday night.
Wet weather conditions pre-match effected the game, but both sides went away from the norm when it rains like that and produced both a fast and free flowing game. Once the downpours came many expected a slug fest up the middle, but expansive rugby was played by both sides and therefore points came rapidly on a night which would have been tough for defending. Not bad in Hull’s case then who usually forget the basic principles of rugby league when the weather decides to piss it down.
In fact Hull started superbly and scored 28 of their 35 points in the first half, with Salford mounting a comeback late on. First things first they are a good team Salford, they chuck the ball about and they’re always a threat in attack, they’ve got a great coach in Ian Watson and they’re well drilled. They did similar to St Helens on the box a few weeks ago and pushed them all the way. They’re no mugs. They don’t roll over like they did when at the Willows where a day was considered a good day if your car was still untouched after the game, and to get the job done was satisfactory, even if the ending to the match threatened to undo all the good work prior, although with points coming more rapidly than Adam Walker Snapchat’s, there was a feeling Hull were never quite in full control.
Hull had no trouble scoring tries before the break and that was largely down to a superb Man of the Match performance from chicken nugget sensation Albert Kelly. The Australian half got two tries on the night, becoming the first Black and Whites player to reach double figures this season. Kelly has been in superb form for weeks now, his running game has been lethal and he continues to evade and power through defenders, despite being well into his third season at the club. Proof that if you treat a player right then they will continue to turn up for you. Kelly does that every week. He puts his body on the line for our club. He’s a madhouse. He puts everything into everything, sometimes to his detriment as his leg was heavily strapped up in the second half, but nothing sinister is thought to have occurred.
Marc Sneyd also put in another good display. Our man with the mercurial left boot is our player of the season so far. The game managing half back we craved for a decade, Sneyd did enough to see the game out and also played a key role in Hull’s points. His 27th drop-goal for the club puts him just three behind Gary Pearce whilst he also achieved the milestone of 450 goals on the night. He’ll be breaking records for fun before his career is done.
In the forwards Mickey Paea was good and Joe Westerman had his best game in weeks, but it was the man that’s come from nowhere in Ratu Naulago who impressed again. The Fijian flyer scored an absolute peach of a try in the second half showcasing his devastating speed. Hull haven’t had a winger that fast in a while, and it would be a travesty if the club couldn’t work something out with the army to keep him at FC in 2020.
It was a satisfactory team performance and as expected having scored six tries, Hull were fluent and crisp at times, especially in the first half and their points came from all corners of the side. Both the right and left edges had their moments with Kelly, Jake Connor and Mark Minichiello cruising us into an 18-0 lead. From then on it looked like a cricket score could be posted but that’s a disrespect to Salford, who are a much more resilient side now and exemplified that with a resurgence late on. By then both Walker and Chris Green has been sin binned for fighting and Josh Griffin was also dismissed for a dangerous throw. That made way for a crazy ending where the result was in doubt until the final second. Great for entertainment, in fact that was a great advocate for Super League, but not for the old ticker. We are literally the most stressful team ever and could have made it easier for ourselves, but Salford became desperate and were therefore dangerous.
Never the less it goes down as Hull FC’s tenth competition win of 2019, and was actually the first time that Lee Radford had named an unchanged side in a whopping 129 games, going way back to February 2016. That’s a crazy stat. It shows how the injury card has played its part and also how willing our coach is to rotate and freshen his squad. On the injury front the side were still missing Scott Taylor, Gareth Ellis and Carlos Tuimavave, but boasted Josh Bowden and Andre Savelio on the interchange who both kept up their comebacks from injury. Things are looking much better now and with some continuity in selection might come some consistency in performance. Let’s hope it pans out like that with half a dozen games still to go before the Cup semi-final.
Off the field the game was all about Jansin Turgut, and it was nice to see Hull FC wearing warm up tops to support him, as well as allowing his partner to deliver the match ball amongst further fundraising efforts. That’s one thing we get right time and time again as a club. We look after our own. It doesn’t matter who you are, as long as you pulled on that jersey, you get respect.
Best wishes obviously go out to Jansin once again, and that was a game that did him justice as he continues to recover from serious injuries in Ibiza. Fair play Salford, and as for Hull FC, that’s 20 Super League points on the board now, level with Catalans in third position but behind thanks to a retched points difference. On that front there’s still some work to be done, continuing at Castleford on Thursday night…
Hull Starting XIII: 1. Jamie Shaul, 33. Ratu Naulago, 14. Jake Connor, 4. Josh Griffin, 2. Bureta Faraimo, 6. Albert Kelly, 7. Marc Sneyd, 23. Mickey Paea, 9. Danny Houghton, 15. Chris Green, 21. Sika Manu, 12. Mark Minichiello, 13. Joe Westerman. Interchange: 10. Josh Bowden, 35. Andre Savelio, 20. Brad Fash, 11. Dean Hadley.
Hull Tries: Kelly 2, Connor, Minichiello, Shaul, Naulago. Goals: Sneyd 5/7. Drop Goal: Sneyd
Hull 3-2-1 Man of the Match: 3pts Albert Kelly, his running game was absolutely outstanding, 2pts Ratu Naulago, that try was special, but he also worked hard and is already a cult hero, 1pt Marc Sneyd, took all the pressure off Hull during key periods of the game.
Salford Starting XIII: 1. Niall Evalds, 23. Ken Sio, 3. Kris Welham, 26. Krisnan Inu, 5. Jake Bibby, 6. Robert Lui, 31. Jackson Hastings, 20. Daniel Murray, 14. Joey Lussick, 10. Gill Dudson, 11. Josh Jones, 12. George Griffin, 16. Greg Burke. Interchange: 15. Adam Walker, 19. Logan Tomkins, 17. Tyrone McCarthy, 28. Pauli Pauli.
Salford Tries: Pauli 2, Bibby 2, Lui, Evalds. Goals: Inu 4/6
Scoring System: 6-0, 12-0, 18-0, 18-6, 24-6, 24-12, 28-12, HT, 28-16, 29-16, 35-16, 35-22, 35-28, 35-32
Referee: Liam Moore