Wake me up when September ends. That’s how the Greenday song goes right. A flashback to childhood there. But very relevant. The rest of 2018 is a slug fest now as Hull FC come to terms with dead rubber fixtures and the need just to finish the season and put all attention on next year.
It’s a far from ideal situation for a club that aspires to be challenging for the top four. But in truth that has looked unlikely since Hull lost a monumentally important fixture against Wigan back in June. Before that an injury-hit side had smashed Salford and pushed runaway St Helens to three points in the Cup. Hull went down fighting. We thought we’d be okay. We were wrong. It’s certainly naive to pinpoint everything on one fixture, but Hull haven’t been the same since that defeat to Wigan – a game they should have won and a win that would at the time have put us right in the mix. Realistically though what the defeat did was knock the stuffing out of us. Cas won their games in hand and suddenly an ominous task was unfolding. Since then the injuries have caught up with us. We beat Widnes unconvincingly two weeks later, but have now suffered five defeats in a row – the latest one coming on Friday night against Wakefield.
A 13-7 lead became a 13-31 defeat in no time at all and the way Hull just collapsed was concerning. Defensively there were some big problems and in attack even more so. That’s nothing new though. Hull have had a big problem for a while when attacking in the opposition twenty. There’s not much problem in getting down that end but once there it’s like we freeze. Unless there’s a barge over, tries are rare. It was rare in itself these days to see Jamie Shaul go over untouched. You can point the finger again at the most creative players being injured, but that excuse has got persistent and boring – even if Jake Connor, Albert Kelly and Joe Westerman were all sat in the stand, alongside Dean Hadley and Josh Bowden. The reality is Marc Sneyd isn’t fit, Jordan Abdull is struggling (understandably after a leg break), Josh Griffin isn’t fully fit either and the current side just aren’t good enough.
There’s players there who we have been too sentimental with. Yes they won back to back Cups and made all our dreams come true but time moves on. One fails to see how Hull will be a title contender with the current pack. We need some grunt up front and pace on the wing. The trip to Australia allegedly brought in a massive payday. Now it’s time to spend some of it. Invest in the squad, or back to mid-table mediocrity to go. That’s a harsh reality.
Continuity is nice and we’ve had plenty of it but we need a freshen up. Evidently it’s been a tough few seasons with a persistent fixture calendar, but we look fatigued and need new faces. Some mongrel about us would be nice, and the hierarchy must understand the need for that reinforcement, if they want to continue to dine at the top that is. You could say we’ve also felt sorry for ourselves over the past two months and that after a full pre-season we’ll be raring to go again. That’s the optimist coming out but right now it’s easier and more relevant to go with the pessimist. You never know though – we could all be surprised come February 2019.
Also a 31-13 defeat shows that Wakefield have a lot more than a bit about them and it gives them a discredit to just mope about our own misfortunes. UTC like Wakefield. The ground is a dump but the club is admirable. The owner is a Hull lad and has worked wonders there. They’re a bloody good side. It’s apparent to most of you that praising Chris Chester rattles the cages of certain Super League chairmen whilst they’re fighting the potential of a second relegation in three years, but what a job Chris has done. He’s built a hard-working squad that has power in abundance and some class about it too. Pauli Pauli is a monster, as is David Fifita and Tirinau Arona, and then you have former Hull half Jacob Miller who has blossomed into a top player. Reece Lyne has come on leaps and bounds too and there’s a star born in Tom Johnstone. Ditching the zoo themed franchise suffix to their name there’s plenty to like about Trinity, who clearly had more about them in the second half to dispose of us.
That’s the most frustrating aspect of the result – the fact Hull didn’t go down fighting, but instead caved in. It was too easy for Wakefield to post points late on. They wanted it more and coming after a satisfactory start including an early Scott Taylor try, that was perplexing. Maybe we can point the blame at losing Mickey Paea and Brad Fash during the game. Gets tiresome doesn’t it.
On the positive front Carlos Tuimavave was excellent again as was his workload out the back. He’s not scoring tries every week but his other contributions are huge and he’s doing it all despite an ankle problem. Taylor was faultless again but needs help. Elsewhere a debut was handed out to Lewis Bienek who had some good moments and is a big physical specimen for a 20-year-old. There’s potential, but excitement can be put on hold now until we see him running through Super League defenders in the same way he runs through kids on his YouTube vids. Clearly something there though.
Ultimately our first Super 8s battle was a dead-rubber fixture for most, but the quality from Wakefield in that final twenty minutes told. For Hull it’s going to be a under-whelming end to the season, but in the truth the season as a whole has been underwhelming. Roll on winter.
Hull Starting XIII: 1. Jamie Shaul, 2. Bureta Faraimo, 4. Josh Griffin, 3. Carlos Tuimavave, 5. Fetuli Talanoa, 16. Jordan Abdull, 7. Marc Sneyd, 8. Scott Taylor, 9. Danny Houghton, 23. Mickey Paea, 17. Danny Washbrook, 26. Jordan Lane, 21. Sika Manu. Interchange: 15. Chris Green, 20. Brad Fash, 36. Lewis Bienek, 27. Jack Downs.
Hull Tries: Taylor, Shaul. Goals: Sneyd 2/3. Drop Goal: Sneyd.
Hull 3-2-1 Man of the Match: 3pts Carlos Tuimavave, 2pts Scott Taylor, 1pt Lewis Bienek
Wakefield Starting XIII: 21. Max Jowitt, 5. Ben Jones-Bishop, 4. Reece Lyne, 3. Bill Tupou, 2. Tom Johnstone, 6. Jacob Miller, 25. Ryan Hampshire, 10. Anthony England, 13. Tyler Randall, 14. Justin Horo, 11. Matty Ashurst, 23. Chris Annakin. Interchange: 9. Kyle Wood, 15. Pauli Pauli, 16. Tinirau Arona, 17. Craig Huby.
Wakefield Tries: Huby, Tupou, Pauli. Johnstone. Goals: Hampshire 7/7. Drop Goal: Miller.
Scoring System: 6-0, 6-6, 6-7, 7-7, 13-7, 13-9, 13-15, 13-21, 13-27, 13-29, 13-31.
Attendance: Not ten thousand.
Referee: Jack Smith