It’s becoming ridiculous how many times Marc Sneyd has stepped up to deliver in a Hull FC shirt – he’s the man for the big occasion, the man with the mercurial left boot so cool under pressure that he could sell ice to an eskimo. Producing the goods when it mattered most once again, Sneyd slotted over the first ever killing blow in Super League Golden Point. Game, set, and match Hull FC. Bedlam. The 1500 or so strong away end goes mental.
This Hull FC squad are history makers in a new format for our competition, and with that comes an abrupt end to a turbulent losing run that has blown up the large majority of internet signals on the other side of the River Hull. FC are back. Hello. Hello. That, in defeating Wigan 23-22 on their own patch for the third time in four years, was about as good as the regular season can get, in a town where Hull have historically had more shaftings than English monarchs at Beverley Gate. Kudos to you then Mr Sneyd, who managed the game like a general and fully deserved the plaudits after his winning drop-goal.
The losing run put in the bin then, but as cliché as it was, this was one of those 1-17 performances – the sort of display many believed Hull FC were incapable of in 2019 despite the (quite hilariously so now) criticised comeback of a certain Gareth Ellis. The old warhorse, despite not playing since a play-off defeat to L**ds in September 2017, was absolutely immense, playing his influential stint either side of half-time.
Hull were already looking good, but once the big fella came on with his bald shiny head the intensity and the performance of everyone else went up. That’s the story of Gareth Ellis’ rugby league career. He inspires others to greatness, as we found out at Wembley not once but twice. Hopefully, and at the risk of sounding premature after our first win since the FIFA World Cup last summer, more to come.
UTC was firm in its criticism when the towel was thrown in during the retched Super 8s campaign, but always maintained that the gloss of this side, when on the field and not in the stand at least, was capable of something. Maybe not further immortality, but certainly not bottom four fodder. You’ll see that now in the imminent future when we rise again. We’ll be fifth and maybe beyond that if Sneyd, Ellis, Jake Connor and co want to prove we know nout and claim further prestige. Anything’s possible in Super League these days – just ask Salford.
Ellis though really was superb, leading from the front and smashing into anything, just like his Tongan colleague Sika Manu, who pied, alongside Mark Minichiello, Mickey Paea etc, their critics in the face. In the case of the former two, we can still taste it. Minichiello was the 2015 Minichiello. He was excellent. Paea was the 2015 Paea. Manu was the Manu we all know and adore, the enforcer that makes the rest of the competition quiver and fear, and that’s just with his Bronson tash. Joe Westerman, as he has been since returning to the club, was outstanding, Jordan Thompson had his best game of the season to date, whilst Masimbaashe Matongo, with that extra bit of mongrel in him, was absolute quality.
It was the forward pack that laid the foundation to the former glory of the Radford-regime, with the never-say-die traits, effort and energy apparent. There genuinely wasn’t a bad Hull FC player on the pitch – even a cameo from Jordan Lane punched holes in Wigan’s defence. At fullback Jamie Shaul was a constant danger, and on the fringes, Carlos Tuimavave was excellent, whilst Josh Griffin was equally as damaging, with wingers Bureta Faraimo and in particular Ratu Naulago, who grabbed two tries on his Super League debut, superb.
Last but not least, Danny Houghton was phenomenal. Ellis’ return will get the headlines, but that was the Houghton that broke through the ranks in the naughty noughties, scooting to glorious effect, putting Wigan on the back foot, whilst crisply passing to his team-mates. The Super League hooking eminence has been well-documented and whilst the contingent of nines in the comp is outrageous these days, Houghton’s display was right up there as the very best in recent memory. He was genuinely brilliant – the best showing from him since he won the Man of Steel award in 2016. To run another cliché, that was a Man of Steel display.
The whole team though can fall into that category. Hull took a deserved 16-12 lead into the break – thanks to a fine finish from Tuimavave, some magic from Westerman, and a looping pass from Connor to the Fijian flyer Naulago, a delivery arguably longer than the obligatory Wigan walk. That was comprehended by tries from Oliver Gildart and Liam Bryne. With Taulima Tautai in the bin, it was crucial then that Hull capitalised after the break. Luckily they did, as Sneyd deceived everyone but Naulago to put Hull 22-12 ahead.
Things never pan out the easy way though, and as fatigue stepped, in, Hull lost both Naulago and then Shaul to injury. The accustomed proverbial kick in the knackers. Fortunately the Black and Whites, adorning their blue away kit for the first time, hung on for ages. They dug deep. It was a tenacious, ballsy, and fully determined display, with a Ben Flower try twitching the bums, before Gildart levelled the scores. A case then of de-ja-vu, the French for what the f is going on, or here we go again, but Sneyd, as he has done so frequently in the past, had other ideas. Can’t wait for Garry Schofield and Jamie Peacock’s next comments, can you? On a side note, how’s that five-year plan going? About as well as Gemma Collins’ ice-skating, that’s for sure.
Boy that felt so f-ing good. It’s a feeling we haven’t felt in a bloody long time and it was well worth the wait. In Any Kind of Weather and all that, which is so appropriate right now. Post-match scenes were incredible, and it was great to see the same faces we saw when we were down in the dumps at the end of last season full of joy. Buzzing for those lads and lasses and on that note Happy Birthday to my mate Sue Bowering and her friend Alan. Buzzing for Lee Radford too who got a huge cheer when he entered the field after full-time. Talk of him getting the chop is nothing but bat shit crazy. Luckily though this away following was full of the hardcore, the ones that quite literally as Australia proved last year, will back Hull FC to the ends of the earth.
FC are back, and whilst harping on about missing troops for the past year, it’s worth pointing out that we’ve got Albert Kelly, Fetuli Talanoa, Josh Bowden and Chris Green still to return. With a bit of luck, Radford might actually have a selection headache in the imminent future. Something to build on, with Huddersfield away up next. Come on you Ull.
Wigan Starting XIII: 20. Zak Hardaker, 2. Tom Davies, 3. Dan Sarginson, 4. Oliver Gildart, 17. Liam Marshall, 6. George Williams, 7. Thomas Leuluai, 22. Joe Bullock, 9. Sam Powell, 10. Ben Flower, 11. Joe Greenwood, 15. Willie Isa, 13. Sean O’Loughlin. Interchange: 19. Taulima Tautai, 36. Liam Bryne, 16. Gabe Hamlin, 37. Jarrod Sammut.
Wigan Tries: Gildart 2, Bryne, Flower. Goals: Hardaker 3/4
Hull Starting XIII: 1. Jamie Shaul, 33. Ratu Naulago, 3. Carlos Tuimavave, 4. Josh Griffin, 2. Bureta Faraimo, 14. Jake Connor, 7. Marc Sneyd, 19. Masimbaashe Matongo, 9. Danny Houghton, 23. Mickey Paea, 21. Sika Manu, 12. Mark Minichiello, 13. Joe Westerman. Interchange: 34. Gareth Ellis, 16. Jordan Thompson, 22. Jordan Lane, 28. Jez Litten.
Hull Tries: Tuimavave, Westerman, Naulago 2. Goals: Sneyd 3/4. Drop Goal: Sneyd
Hull 3-2-1: 3pts Sika Manu, 2pts Danny Houghton, 1pt Gareth Ellis
Scoring System: 6-0, 6-4, 6-10, 6-16, 12-16, 12-22, 18-22, 22-22, 22-23
Referee: Ben Thaler