Well as the old saying goes a win is a win but the longer that second half went on the more apprehension came into place and in the end a Marc Sneyd Golden Point drop-goal papered over a few cracks.
It’s his moment and as usual the man with the mercurial left boot stepped up in a situation when Hull FC needed him most, but it should never have got to that stage. Once again Hull were on top in a game that they had the measure of, in fact going in at the break fourteen points up, but as is the norm these days a first sight of pressure and Hull collapsed with such a lead relinquished.
That brought about our third glimpse of Super League’s Golden Point and after winning the toss you felt there was only one outcome. From that first carry Ligi Sao made around twenty metres and after a half break from Albert Kelly, the field position was there for Sneyd to do what Sneyd does best and slot over his 32nd drop-goal for the club for a 27-26 victory. The Iceman. Never in doubt.
Talk about getting out of jail though as that second half display wasn’t good enough, yet after a few sets under the cosh, totally expected. Hull kept making errors deep in their own half and the defence was garbage at times. This side are soft when the going gets tough and that’s absolutely uncharacteristic of the two cup winning teams. Completely baffling. There’s no excuses either with the squad assembled. Sure there’s a couple of wingers, Andre Savelio, and a Snake out injured, but there was more than enough on the pitch to see that game out in a much more comfortable fashion than it panned out, and the fact it ended up being so nervy will leave many questioning what the hell is going on at the moment.
Of course opposition sides will have moments in the games where they get a jump on you and eighty minutes of perfection is about as rare as a major trophy win over the river, but it’s not all plain sailing is it – we’ll that’s an understatement with 32 points given up in the last two games alone. You can dress that up all you like. Whilst Hull are good in stages the second half collapses are worrying and the inability to defend the line notable. Wakefield looked capable of scoring on every play and there would have been no complaints if they had won it. In fact they actually out scored Hull five tries to four with only Sneyd’s boot the difference. That apprehension got more sinister the longer the game went on too and it felt like it was only a matter of time before the home side hit the front. There’s no trust in Hull at the minute to see out a lead and get the job done, and whatever trust was soon evaporated when Jacob Miller and co started to run the show. The older lot must be able to write the script now.
However it is a win we’re talking about and whilst there’s a lot to pick at with how the second half went, it’s a big two competition points after three consecutive defeats. Belle Vue is a tough place to come to as well, although someone must have removed all the cow pat as the pitch didn’t look too bad and it’s certainly better than the sandbank at Headingley right now. A massive relief then, with Sneyd’s boot bringing with it the obligatory fist pump. Lovely stuff. Obviously we’re happy with that. Nothing can be taken for granted in Super League these days either and on the same night we’re picking the bones out of another Hull display, Huddersfield have just gone to the home of the Super League champions and won. Mental. You could say then that every two points earned in the comp these days is an achievement but the feeling after full time is still flat. That comes with not accepting mediocrity and knowing what this side is capable of.
This Hull squad on paper is one of the best (and certainly most expensive) squads the club have put together in the Super League era and it has to be turning out better showings than that. It’s the manner of the performance that gets to people and the way we roll over which again was of our own making. But then again Wigan won just four of their opening twelve matches last season and still finished second. That’s purely an example of how things can change, not that we need any introduction after watching eighty minutes of Hull FC these days. Worth mentioning too that Salford won three of their opening ten games last season and still made the Grand Final. Salford.
Time is on Hull’s side and the first half display was actually solid if not spectacular – we were pretty content at half time. Three tries and four goals put us into a comfortable looking lead but we had all the possession and territory so it was nothing less than expected. Jamie Shaul was absolutely brilliant during that period. He scored another try to make it four from his opening six games and returned the ball superbly. He’s a joy to watch when on top form and he’s started the season well. Mahe Fonua got the first try but again he’s rocks and diamonds. There were attacking plays that were really encouraging, but there were also mistakes in his game (he wasn’t the only one), not to mention hits that you could hear on the terrace. It will come. Kieran Buchanan got the other first half effort whist Josh Jones was solid as a rock on that left edge with Albert Kelly always a threat. The duo combined for Hull’s only second half try. In fact Kelly has had a hand in six of the nine Hull have scored since his return. Get him signed up.
Elsewhere Lee Radford handed a club debut out to the impressive Joe Cator, whilst in-form Josh Griffin quietly got on with his business and ate up the yardage as per. Hull were dealt the proverbial kick in the knackers with Manu Ma’u failing a concussion test and therefore he will be out of next weeks game against Warrington. Wakefield with their own surge of possession and territory took advantage and soon rallied. They’re a tough side to play against these days and Chris Chester has done a superb job. Sure the manner in which Hull first coughed the ball up and then defended was questionable, but Trinity have got the best winger in the competition on their left edge in Tom Johnstone – he’s a freak and his two try finishes were absolutely sublime. Credit where it’s due.
After a dominant first half possession was always going to even up but it was handed on a plate and that’s the frustrating thing. Hull have got to find ways of dealing with a bit of adversity – second half scores of 12-30 (St Helens), 4-16 (Wigan), 13-24 (Catalans) and now 7-20 (Wakefield) don’t make for great reading. When under the cosh it felt like it was only a matter of time before the points were conceded and so it panned out. In fact four of Wakefield’s five tries came directly from Hull errors deep in our own half. They were simple one up errors too and not as a result of pushing the ball. They’ve got to be cut out.
But the be all and end all is that two points is two points and the celebration at full-time showed the relief. Hull were desperate – it’s an ugly win, but they all count. If you like your omens then it was actually an ugly Round Six win against Wakefield back in 2016 that kickstarted the winning run then after three consecutive defeats and a meltdown. Can history repeat itself? Well it has the potential to on paper, put it that way. Nothing’s changed on that front. We know of the quality in this side and whilst they’re underwhelming right now, displays can and only will get better.
Wakefield Starting XIII: 1. Alex Walker, 2. Tom Johnstone, 28. Ryan Atkins, 4. Reece Lyne, 3. Bill Tupou, 6. Jacob Miller, 21. Max Jowitt, 17. Chris Green, 19. Jordan Crowther, 36. Kelepi Tanginoa, 14. Jay Pitts, 11. Matty Ashurst, 13. Joe Westerman. Interchange: 9. Kyle Wood, 10. Tinirau Arona, 22. George King, 37. Romain Navarrete.
Wakefield Tries: Atkins 2, Pitts, Johnstone 2. Goals: Jowitt 3/5
Hull Starting XIII: 1. Jamie Shaul, 24. Mahe Fonua, 3. Carlos Tuimavave, 4. Josh Griffin, 26. Kieran Buchanan, 14. Albert Kelly, 7. Marc Sneyd, 8. Scott Taylor, 9. Danny Houghton, 13. Ligi Sao, 12. Manu Ma’u, 11. Josh Jones, 15. Joe Cator. Interchange: 10. Chris Satae, 22. Josh Bowden, 29. Gareth Ellis, 16. Jordan Johnstone.
Hull Tries: Fonua, Shaul, Buchanan, Kelly. Goals: Sneyd 5/6. Drop Goal: Sneyd
Hull 3-2-1 Man of the Match: 3pts Jamie Shaul, 2pts Josh Jones, 1pt Josh Griffin
Scoring System: 6-0, 6-6, 6-12, 6-16, 6-18, 6-20, 12-20, 18-20, 18-26, 22-26, 26-26, 26-27
Referee: James Child