Well, where to start… Hull FC won, defeating London 28-24 in Ealing for a fourth Super League win of the season, but that doesn’t tell half the story.
The Londoners played well, they deserve credit, and they have deservedly won many admirers whilst they’ve been back in the top flight, but wow, as far as incompetent imbeciles go, then look no further than the absolute clown the RFL continue to employ in Scott Mikalauskas. How he continues to get gigs at this level is absolutely baffling – he has no control on games, and he sucks the life out of them. There was no bias here, just sheer incompetence, and both sides were hindered with decisions that were more baffling than Theresa May’s Brexit deal.
It spoiled somewhat a contest in which a spirited Broncos side pushed Hull all the way. They are likeable London. The Ealing Trailfinders ground was likeable. The London fans, staff, stewards, and facilities were all likeable. The sun was out too – tropics given this being the first game of 2019 we haven’t been nithered at. It all should have made for an enjoyable afternoon. Sure the game had some dramas, but for us it was spoiled by an official more out of his depth than Ralph Wiggum in a swimming pool. Of course it’s a tough gig being the man with the whistle, and it’s a subject we generally try to avoid, but that was farcical, not that Steve Ganson will bat an eyelid. There’s a pattern developing here though and it’s worrying that no-one seems accountable.
So what did we make of Hull FC then? Okay is probably a fair assessment, but you could argue the win is more impressive when you consider the side was missing Joe Westerman, Mark Minichiello, Josh Bowden, Jake Connor, Chris Green, Matty Dawson-Jones and new boy Andre Savelio.
We did enough, and ensured just enough points were posted on the board during our purple patches of the game. The end result would have been much more comfortable if not for an off day with the tee from Marc Sneyd, something about as rare as a major trophy win in East Hull these days. We can forgive him though, especially as his hand was involved in many of Hull’s points, with the six tries the team posted enough to see off a plucky opposition.
It was a nip and tuck contest, exactly how Lee Radford expected it. London battled hard and for some parts of the game they were actually the better side. Not to blow their trumpet too much, but they’ve been a tough nut to crack so far this year – just ask Wakefield, Wigan and Leeds – and they’re a match for anyone on their home ground, a venue that was virtually full for a Sunday match, but of course Thursday fixtures doing the length of the M62 are the way forward.
London seem to have found a home here. They’ve been in Ealing for a while now and it’s a good set up with potential – a plastic pitch, but one that Josh Griffin for one had no dramas getting to grips with. He was outstanding. Griffin ran two great lines to score his second try brace of the season, but it was his usual work out the backfield doing those tough undesirable yards that impressed us – not to mention doing a solid job at fullback following another head knock for Jamie Shaul, who is certain to miss Friday’s game against Warrington due to concussion. Griffin was probably the pick of the bunch, alongside his fellow outside backs that certainly had their moments.
Griffin’s two meat pies weren’t enough to prevent Hull going down 14-10 at the break, but a rocket must have been fired up the teams arse at half time as we clicked into gear almost imminently after the restart. Four tries followed, with Carlos Tuimavave, Bureta Faraimo and makeshift outside back Jordan Thompson all crossing over. Albert Kelly got the other, taking the piss Jake Connor style to ‘race’ away following an intercept.
Elsewhere Mickey Paea went well again. He’s looked good for a few weeks now and something clearly changed after that Reserve game against Wakefield last month. It’s the Paea, not to go too far over the top, that we thought we re-signed, full of powerful leg drives and big hits. Gareth Ellis and in particular Scott Taylor were equally at home in that department, but the back rowers were quiet. Sika Manu for one won’t want to watch the highlights reel anytime soon, gifting London’s first try on a plate alongside all the trimmings following a dropped ball.
Hull defended a lot too, especially in the first half, and Ratu Naulago for one came up with some neat defensive plays. For a lad playing casual rugby for the Army a few months ago, his rise to this level of rugby league is ridiculously good and a credit to him. Kelly also put in his usual crazy hits in defence but also one or two moments of sheer quality in attack. For the Airlie Birds it’s about making those moments more frequent. As we say Hull were okay, London played their part too, but the game was influenced too much by the clown in the middle.
At 28-14 we assumed the game was done. It would have been beyond doubt if the eight points worth of missed conversions went over, but as long as that doesn’t become too frequent you can forgive it. What was perhaps more concerning was London creeping back into a game we were in control of. Five more minutes and they would have won it. A fourteen point deficit saw them chance their arm and they played some eye-catching rugby, helped of course, like Hull before them, by bizarre and questionable penalty decisions. Baffling to say the least.
They say a wins a win though and we’ll take it. You can definitely admire the way Hull won ugly, with two welcome competition points putting us into fifth position on the table, with a game in hand on fourth placed Salford. It doesn’t get any easier though, just ask those Sky Sports watchers who will have to deal with another Blake Austin wank-a-thon next week. Warrington at the KCOM. Big ask but we’ll be there as always.
London Starting XIII: 1. Alex Walker, 5. Kieran Dixon, 19. Ryan Morgan, 4. Elliot Kear, 2. Rhys Williams, 6. Jordan Abdull, 28. Morgan Smith, 8. Eddie Battye, 9. Eloi Pelissier, 23. Rob Butler, 12. Jay Pitts, 20. Luke Yates, 29. Sam Davies. Interchange: 15. Greg Richards, 11. Will Lovell, 14. Matty Fozard, 18. Nathan Mason
London Tries: Kear, Pelissier, Abdull, Williams. Goals: Dixon 4/5
Hull Starting XIII: 1. Jamie Shaul, 33. Ratu Naulago, 3. Carlos Tuimavave, 4. Josh Griffin, 2. Bureta Faraimo, 6. Albert Kelly, 7. Marc Sneyd, 23. Mickey Paea, 9. Danny Houghton, 19. Masimbaashe Matongo, 21. Sika Manu, 11. Dean Hadley, 34. Gareth Ellis. Interchange: 8. Scott Taylor, 16. Jordan Thompson, 22. Jordan Lane, 28. Jez Litten.
Hull Tries: Griffin 2, Tuimavave, Thompson, Kelly, Faraimo. Goals: Sneyd 2/6
Hull 3-2-1 Man of the Match: 3pts Josh Griffin, 2pts Albert Kelly, 1pt Mickey Paea
Scoring System: 0-4, 6-4, 6-10, 12-10, 14-10, HT, 14-16, 14-20, 14-24, 14-28, 18-28, 24-28