It doesn’t matter though, as it’s a meaningless game, apparently. Bore off. For everyone affiliated with Hull FC this current run is embarrassing.
That’s now TEN consecutive defeats in Super League. During those ten games we’ve been humiliated twice, lost a Derby where the opposition had more players out injured than the club come up with excuses, and threw away a lead quicker than Gareth O’Brien slots over a drop-goal in the latest loss against Catalans.
Gaining a 20-16 lead in the final ten minutes, Hull’s defensive problems were highlighted again, as two late French tries sealed the win. Another loss. Fantastic. But to the apologists it doesn’t matter and if you dare voice questions then you lose your Super-Fan status. Bloody social media and the set of nitwits can do-one too.
We should be asking huge questions of Hull FC right now. Is the current squad, even with everyone fit, good enough to compete for silverware again? Has our policy on retain rather than recruit been the right decision? Are we utilising the salary cap to the best of our ability? The answer to all three of those is a resounding no. The pack isn’t good enough and doesn’t dominate like it did two years ago. You can’t lose the likes of Frank Pritchard, Gareth Ellis, Liam Watts, and even Jordan Thompson who was a good squad player, and not replace them. Mickey Paea hasn’t been of that calibre and we’re asking miracles of two players in Brad Fash and Masimbaashe Matongo, that although have improved in the past couple of weeks, have struggled at times this year. We need some bite, a mongrel, or if you like, an ogre. Even Sam Moa here offered more aggression than any of our middle men, as he seems to do whenever he faces off with the Black and Whites.
Then there’s recruitment. Adam Pearson’s post-Warrington comments, as stated in the latest fanzine, look more and more like a knee jerk reaction. No-one significant will arrive now ahead of next season, its September, and we don’t want to spend. It’s simple. We’ve proved that in thinking people like Joe Greenwood and Kenny Edwards are too expensive, instead opting to retain the services of Mark Minichiello and Danny Washbrook, who despite what they’ve admirably done for the club in the past, are now seasoned and past their best. Nice value that.
That’s the Hull FC mentality though. UTC has gone on and on this year, and myself and many guests alike have alluded to it on the radio too, that historically Hull win something for a couple of years, then go into the doldrums. They don’t kick on. This happened in the 50s, it happened in the 80s, the 90s, the 2000s and it’s looking like it’ll repeat itself again. But we won the Challenge Cup twice, so it doesn’t matter does it. Some of our fans have that mentality too. It’s not fickle. It’s about wanting to kick on, like Wigan, who are, nine times out of ten at least, always in the mix to win something. That’s their mentality. They’re winners. We’re losers.
Then there’s the salary cap, which we’ve got hopelessly wrong. It’s been revealed that 83% of it is spent on the clubs top seventeen players, and that includes Minichiello, Washbrook, and then the likes of Mickey Paea and Chris Green. Christ. We are clearly overpaying people, and whether that’s down to an inept management and/or players’ egos and ridiculously unrealistic agents setting ludicrous wage demands is open for debate. If it’s the former then we need to get grounded. We’ve won two cups. We bottled winning Super League in 2016 and we’ll find it tough to get another chance like it. As far as 2019 goes, one must be severely lacking confidence to suggest this squad can replicate anything of the past two years when it’ll be going into a new season on the back of eleven straight defeats. It needs investment. No major signings is going backwards, and that will be proved next year.
We’ve hid behind injuries this year and although they’ve been a right pain in the arse it doesn’t prevent our blushes. Injuries obviously affect your squads ability to perform to its best but injuries do not excuse a lack of effort, desire and duty of care. The performance at Warrington was an absolute disgrace. No-one gave a crap that night and it was humiliating to endure. Wakefield away was the same. The players need to take a long hard look at themselves for that. It’s so embarrassing and I will continue to harp on about it. You can’t shove things like that under the carpet. It said a lot about some of our players. There’s nothing to play for in terms of making the top four, but surely there’s an element of pride preventing you from getting your backside handed to you in front of a watching TV audience? Well you’d think so anyway. If you don’t want to fight for the shirt every time you step on to that field then do us all a favour and bugger off.
So Catalans. As historic Cup winners they’re probably still turning out the pub like we were two years ago, but they still found a way to beat us. Hull’s defence once again was abysmal. The second half against St Helens last week was bad enough but it’s like we’re on mission to be even more shit. Jamie Shaul’s efforts defensively were so poor and he knows it, but he wasn’t the only one. Defensively we have been crap for ages now which fits the bill as defence is all about desire and we have about as much desire right now as Mose Mosoe and his weight loss plan. We’re literally waiting for the season to end and thankfully it will be once Wigan take us to the cleaners next week.
Positives? There’s some. Jake Connor was outstanding. He doesn’t realise how good he actually is. I said in pre-season he has the potential to be one of the game’s best players and I stand by that. He’s got so much natural talent and his skill sets are unreal. He makes the basic things seem so simple. His cut out pass for Fetuli Talanoa’s try was excellent and his assist for Fash was equally so. Connor is a baller, an England international, and probably our most lucrative player. Can’t wait to see him giving it to the Kiwis again later in the Autumn. Elsewhere Scott Taylor was equally impressive and doesn’t deserve all this. What typified the prop forward more than anything was his desire to get to people like Lewis Tierney on a breakaway. Whilst the rest of the squad prodded back, Taylor was busting a gut to make that tackle, and he did the same in his carries, getting the leg drive going and comfortably being our best forward yet again. Another that deserves to be in the England fold, and probably will be if his health lets him. That’s what’s more remarkable, the fact that he has an ongoing shoulder problem. He’s playing busted, but not once has he given up. Others need to get the memo.
As usual Danny Houghton gave it a crack and I’m liking our shape when Jez Litten comes on at nine, moving the former to a ball playing middle role. Gives us an extra dimension. But whatever praises you can give in attack was faded out with the defensive efforts. Attacking wise given recent history it’s a minor miracle in itself that Hull actually reached 20-points in a game. Most of them came through Connor’s exploits, but an actual superb team try saw Shaul go over too. That was a great sequence of support play that has clearly been too few and far between this season. It’s a shame that effort was thrown in the sea with the defensive succumbs that followed, but that’s the norm at the minute. Hull FC would have a hard time tackling a bunch of arthritic cardboard cut outs, or so a friend once said.
What really sums it up was a fanzine regular who came up to me yesterday prior to the game and said, “Thank fuck it’s the last game.” Nail on the head, mate.
Hull Starting XIII: 1. Jamie Shaul, 2. Bureta Faraimo, 4. Josh Griffin, 3. Carlos Tuimavave, 5. Fetuli Talanoa, 28. Hakim Miloudi, 14. Jake Connor, 8. Scott Taylor, 9. Danny Houghton, 29. Masimbaashe Matongo, 17. Danny Washbrook, 26. Jordan Lane, 11. Dean Hadley. Interchange: 20. Brad Fash, 23. Mickey Paea, 22. Jez Litten, 36. Lewis Bienek.
Hull Tries: Griffin, Fash, Talanoa, Shaul. Goals: Connor 2/4
Hull 3-2-1 Man of the Match: 3pts Jake Connor, 2pts Scott Taylor, 1pt Danny Houghton
Catalans Starting XIII: 31. Tony Gigot, 20. Lewis Tierney, 1. David Mead, 4. Branden Wiliame, 3. Iain Thornley, 22. Lucas Albert, 33. Josh Drinkwater, 23. Antoni Maria, 19. Michael McIllorum, 10. Sam Moa, 13. Greg Bird, 21. Benjamin Jullien, 17. Jason Baitieri. Interchange: 24. Alrix Da Costa. 26. Lambert Belmas, 32. Michael Goudemand, 34. Kenny Edwards.
Catalans Tries: Moa, Gigot, Thornley, Wiliame, Edwards. Goals: Drinkwater 3/5
Attendance: Over 10,000. Great banter, lads.
Referee: Matt Griffiths