Hull FC hit self-destruct mode once again with Wigan the beneficiary of an horrific error count to record a 36-4 win in the Challenge Cup.
The Cherry and Whites absolutely battered Hull, particularly in the first half where all the damage was done. They ran harder, tackled harder, and given the ease of which every hopeless Hull possession was handed back over to them, they had next to no trouble in posting points.
Never mind one step forward then two back, it was another example, not that we need one, to how far behind this Hull team actually are to the likes of Wigan, Warrington and the like. The gulf is massive when only three short years ago Hull were amongst the cream of the crop. What’s happened? Well we all know the answer to that – the same hunger just isn’t there anymore, complacency has crept in and the decisions both on and off the field in terms of recruitment, salary cap balance and letting certain players go have been catastrophic.
On the contrary Saturday’s opposition Wigan are relentless. They are never content and fuelled on Pukka Pies and Uncle Joe’s Mint Balls they strive to be the best every single year. Every player seems to slot in effortlessly and every youngster that comes through their academy is tough, resilient and fully embedded into their systems. They’re an outstanding club, but here at least they got everything their own way and were helped massively by a Hull side that just couldn’t hold onto the ball. See it’s the manner of defeat again that gets under your skin. Sure Hull had a crack in the second half but by then the game was gone. There looked to be no belief that they could actually win that cup tie, mentality they were way off and the compounded errors we saw in the first half are just infuriating. Wigan sensed that, they weren’t exactly brilliant but they were far better than what Hull could handle, and victory was there’s to lose after about five minutes.
Of course Hull’s fatigue will be used as an easy cop out and it’s relevant to an extent, but let’s not forget only half the Hull side have actually played in all of the past three fixtures and Wigan also had a gruelling trip to the South of France last week. Surely then if you’re feeling the effects of the games coming thick and fast, there’s a greater need to value your possession, fight for every set, and every inch of field position to give yourself an opportunity. Hull would have spoken about respect for the ball all week but they didn’t show any, they didn’t give themselves a chance and ultimately fell apart all of their own making. There were far too many stupid dumb mistakes yet again and it doesn’t matter how you defend eventually the pressure will be too much to handle.
Those errors are collective too – simple blunders whether in the contact or trying to force the pass. That’s the problem. Most of Hull’s issues are team related and nearly everything good that they actually produce is down to an individual. The structures are just completely ineffective and crap to watch with the attacking shape clunky and rarely looking comfortable. It’s been like this for ages too and those errors come whether or not Hull opt to play ‘safe’ with one up dross or chuck it about like a hot potato. Therefore you can only question the smarts, the concentration levels, and as the desperation comes into place it only gets worse. Hull are just a really poor attacking team and the dropped ball is just ridiculous. It happens every week too – even in victory (and whilst you can never get too concerned with a win), there were spells last week against both Wakefield and Castleford that set the alarm bells ringing.
With this being the third game in ten days perhaps it’s understandable, but from the first two sets you could see the difference in intensity from the two sides. For Hull it was the worst possible start. The first set lacked any punch whereas Wigan showed their intent from the off and Sam Powell on his 200th appearance soon got the ball rolling. Of course the field position for that opening try came from a simple Hull error and then six again, and once a seven tackle set was given away soon after the pressure was back on. That was the story all evening. It’s so frustrating. Hull couldn’t get going and by the time they showed any glimpse that things would get better Wigan, with the likes of Bevan French, Liam Farrell and co running riot, were already in the semi-final.
The worrying thing is that this is the norm now. Hull don’t just get beat, they get battered. It’s like they knew they would get battered too. There was little grit in that opening twenty minutes to stop the Wigan onslaught and the completion rate was awful. It couldn’t have been much worse early on as Hull were going through the motions and after a few minutes there was only one outcome.
As far as individuals go few can hold their head up. Young Connor Wynne at fullback had one to forget with a couple of key errors and then a head knock but he was far from alone. The errors come across the park, even Carlos Tuimavave, who had a blinder last week, was making them and that’s when you know to close the betting account and run for cover. Jake Connor also struggled in the halves. Despite some positive signs in the two wins last week it’s just not coming natural to him and especially against the top sides. Sure you can cut him some slack as it doesn’t help when you’ve got nothing to work with as your forwards are getting battered and your team shape is non-existent, but he was ineffective, struggled to pass crisply, had errors in his game and his kicking was wayward. Elsewhere Jordan Johnstone failed to make an impact and Masimbaashe Matongo and Brad Fash as a starting middle combo just got absolutely blitzed by their opposition. On that front the starting Wigan props were Oliver Partington (aged 20) and Ethan Havard (aged 19). Despite being a lot younger they were more aggressive, a lot tougher, and part of a side that seemed to know they had the opposition beaten before they even walked out. Sure Hull improved once they began to use the interchange, Danny Houghton seemed to steer things up a bit and Ligi Sao and Chris Satae both had a dig. In hindsight all three should have started. Elsewhere Manu Ma’u, who must be begging Brad Arthur to take him back to Parramatta, was one of Hull’s best players on the day, but we are clutching at straws to find anything to be upbeat about.
As Wigan eased off, or more to the point realised they could coast the game out in first gear, Hull got a lot of favourable ball in the final quarter but a Mahe Fonua consolation try aside they couldn’t do anything with it, again showing the attacking flaws within the Hull side. Wigan also deserve some credit for that but realistically it was a walk in the park for them. Talk about a whacking. They dominated from start to finish and whilst the scoring dried up late on they bullied Hull in defence. They rarely let up and had little difficultly in controlling the game. Hull were hopeless to prevent it.
Sinister in defeat again, those Hull errors kept coming right up until the final whistle, and some of the defensive efforts early on can’t be covered in glory either. The only positive is that Hull didn’t completely capitulate in the second half and concede over 50 points. That’s the stage we are at now – relieved that we didn’t get completely embarrassed. Says it all. Roll on November.
Wigan Starting XIII: 6. Bevan French, 21. Dom Manfredi, 1. Zak Hardaker, 4. Oliver Gildart, 5. Joe Burgess, 7. Thomas Leuluai, 31. Jackson Hastings, 30. Ethan Havard, 9. Sam Powell, 17. Oliver Partington, 11. Willie Isa, 12. Liam Farrell, 13. Sean O’Loughlin. Interchange: 15. Mitch Clark, 22. Joe Greenwood, 33. Joe Shorrocks, 28. Harry Smith.
Wigan Tries: Powell, Farrell 2, French 2, Burgess, Gildart. Goals: Hardaker 4/7
Hull Starting XIII: 25. Connor Wynne, 24. Mahe Fonua, 3. Carlos Tuimavave, 4. Josh Griffin, 2. Bureta Faraimo, 6. Jake Connor, 7. Marc Sneyd, 19. Masimbaashe Matongo, 16. Jordan Johnstone, 20. Brad Fash, 12. Manu Ma’u, 21. Jordan Lane, 15. Joe Cator. Interchange: 9. Danny Houghton, 10. Chris Satae, 13. Ligi Sao, 30. Jack Brown.
Hull Tries: Fonua. Goals: Sneyd 0/1
Hull 3-2-1 Man of the Match: 3pts Ligi Sao, 2pts Manu Ma’u, 1pt Danny Houghton
Scoring System: 0-6 (Powell), 0-12 (Farrell), 0-16 (French), 0-22 (French), 0-26 (Burgess), 0-30 (Gildart) 0-36 (Farrell) 4-36 (Fonua)
Attendance: Behind closed doors
Referee: Robert Hicks