It took eight games and into the month of June, but Hull FC’s unbeaten home run is finally over, as Wigan scored a fortunate late try to win an action packed contest 14-10 in front of a big Saturday evening crowd.
More consequently though is the damage the result has done to the Black and Whites’ top four hopes, which at present look tough. It’s not catastrophic as there’s still twelve games and 24 points to fight for, but there’s an ever-increasing realisation that the task is becoming harder by every passing defeat.
That was Hull’s eighth of the season already, and realistically they’ll probably have to win around nine of those twelve remaining fixtures to get into the four. That’s a big ask. To say Hull won’t achieve their target is probably a bit premature, but it’s one of those head over heart situations and right now, especially if Castleford win their games in hand, you’d have to go with no. Come at me, bitches.
That thought process can soon change though and fortunes will definitely improve when key players return. We can talk about injuries all we want and although they’re a cop out of an excuse, there’s no denying Hull are a lot better proposition with the likes of Sika Manu, Marc Sneyd, Fetuli Talanoa, Dean Hadley, Joe Westerman, Josh Griffin, Jordan Abdull, Josh Bowden etc amongst their ranks. After all, if Hull beat Wigan they would have gone two points off second, and they’ll get opportunities to put similar dents into the league table come the Super 8s, but next time with hopefully a near to fully fit squad.
Of course missing eight players to injury once again it was a great effort by Hull to push Wigan all the way. Contests between these two sides have brought the best out of each other in recent seasons and this was another good game. Pre-match talk of a Wigan crisis was laughable. They lost three consecutive games and regardless of what happened they were second in the table. Hardly a catastrophe. Try having James Rule run your club alongside Uncle Kath and you’ll know what crisis is. For all the talk of unrest in the Wigan camp, it wasn’t on display here.
It’s hard to like the Pies but there’s also a lot of respect for them, at least in UTC quarters. They’re a tenacious outfit that are tough to break down and rarely crack. Sure their form hasn’t been great by their standards of late but this was much more like it. Sean O’Loughlin was outstanding, the old school loose forward breed, passing, kicking and running to effect all afternoon. George Williams also had his moments and from an England point of view that’s a good thing. The same can be said of John Bateman, who evades tackles in the same manner Cristiano Ronaldo avoids paying tax. Wigan were good and deserved the win. Additionally it must be said now there can be no complaints from anything referee Robert Hicks produced. Hull weren’t smart enough to win and he handled the game well and kept it flowing – baring one penalty decision, but we won’t gripe at that. It was played at pace with changing weather conditions and must have been tough to officiate.
The Black and Whites lost the game through poor decision making, largely towards the end of the game. Things like kicking early at 10-10 and giving field position away, gifting Wigan seven tackle sets etc etc. Frustrating, but once again effort unquestionable. It never is. Hull go down fighting and they never throw the towel in. You can appreciate that. This team gives everything and sometimes they come up short, but it’s not through a lack of trying. You’d like to think it’s a learning curve, especially for the young lads, and one they’ll come back stronger from.
Speaking of young lads, Hull due to injury had to field several again. Jack Downs played on the right edge and was pretty solid. Liam Harris slotted into the halves, with Jack Logan, due to a knock for Jamie Shaul, playing the second half at full back. Young props Masimbaashe Matongo and Brad Fash came off the bench with Fash in particular excelling.
Danny Houghton and Albert Kelly came back into the side, with Kelly shining despite the unfortunate set back of playing on one leg. He’s not 100% fit by any stretch of the imagination but he’s putting his hand up to play through the pain barrier. He was sensational too, from running the ball to putting in thunderous hits in defence. Oliver Gildart was on the receiving end of three monstrous shots from the stand-off, who’s second season syndrome malarkey is more a myth than Tim Sheens’ selection policy. Fair play Albert. He’s a tough little sod and a player we wouldn’t swap for anyone.
Elsewhere Bureta Faraimo had another stormer of a game. He’s really hitting some form now and is proving a nightmare to deal with. He’s so powerful, adding another two tries to his growing collection. Jake Connor too was classy when he got the ball and caused Wigan problems, showing a sublime step to break away in the first half and an astounding flick pass for one of Faraimo’s tries. Together they always looked threatening, along with the full shape of the side early in the second half, but we didn’t capitalise on our opportunities and that costed us the win. We lacked that bit of composure and it probably goes without saying that if Sneyd was on the field, then we probably win that game.
At 10-8 they were chances to extend the lead but Wigan are built of stern stuff and repelled what we threw at them. Initially to get to that stage after being 8-0 down was pleasing. A penalty goal then levelled the scores, before Tomkins, younger brother of the Rectum of Wigan, struck a drop-goal off the crossbar. It rebounded to their advantage, with O’Loughlin finding Liam Marshall for the winning try.
Jammy gits – but that’s rugby league, sometimes you need that bit of luck, and Wigan got it, although probably deservedly so. Back to the drawing board now, with Widnes up next at the KCOM Stadium.
Hull Starting XIII: 1. Jamie Shaul, 2. Bureta Faraimo, 14. Jake Connor, 3. Carlos Tuimavave, 28. Hakim Miloudi, 6. Albert Kelly, 35. Liam Harris, 8. Scott Taylor, 9. Danny Houghton, 15. Chris Green, 12. Mark Minichiello, 27. Jack Downs, 17. Danny Washbrook. Interchange: 23. Mickey Paea, 20. Brad Fash, 29. Masimbaashe Matongo, 24. Jack Logan.
Hull Tries: Faraimo 2. Goals: Connor 1/2
Hull 3-2-1 Man of the Match: 3pts Albert Kelly, 2pts Bureta Faraimo, 1pt Jake Connor
Wigan Starting XIII: 1. Sam Tomkins, 2. Tom Davies, 3. Dan Sarginson, 4. Oliver Gildart, 22. Liam Marshall, 6. George Williams, 7. Sam Powell, 8. Tony Clubb, 9. Thomas Leuluai, 10. Ben Flower, 14. John Bateman, 19. Willie Isa, 13. Sean O’Loughlin. Interchange: 20. Morgan Escare, 25. Romain Navarette, 27. Callum Field, 30. Gabe Hamlin.
Wigan Tries: Sarginson, Marshall. Goals: Tomkins 3/4
Scoring System: 0-6, 0-8, 6-8, 10-8, 10-10, 10-14
Referee: Robert Hicks