Back from a frustrating injury lay off, Jez Litten produced a superb performance for Hull FC Reserves at Wakefield on Thursday night, scoring one try and playing a hand in several others for a 48-16 victory.
Jez’s last Super League appearance for Hull came at St Helens on Easter Monday, and this was the first time he has took to any playing field since. With that in mind he was outstanding.
As usual the energetic hooker, who would have beaten Mo Farah in an endurance race given the graft he put in here, was explosive out of the ruck and caused a spirited Wakefield side numerous problems. His running game was superb, he covered every blade of grass, and took the game to his opposition.
With Jez the concern, to the coaching hierarchy at least, is his physicality and what he does defensively. Like all players he can miss the odd tackle but when you’ve got the ruck speed and ability to take the defence on like he does, it more than singles itself out. Make no mistake the young acting half will be a first team regular in years to come. He’ll be Hull FC’s first choice number nine and the maximising of his early potential will be up to him.
In West Yorkshire Jez scored the games final try thanks to a fine burst from dummy half, assisted the first for Harvey Gotts, had a hand in many others, and slotted goals between the sticks Marc Sneyd style with a crisp left boot. It was a fantastic return to playing and a performance his late granddad would have been proud of.
Elsewhere teenage centre Cameron Scott shined with a hat-trick of tries. It was also Cameron’s first appearance since Easter Monday after going off with concussion against St Helens. What a way to return. Okay it’s Reserve level, but three meat pies will do his confidence the world of good and given the manner in which he scored them even more so. Cam showed some frightening pace to race away for his first, and had a clean pair of heels for his second and third too, whilst remaining strong with and without the ball.
Like Litten, Cam is another young player at Hull FC tipped for a big future. He’s a good hard working lad that has already captained England Academy to a series win over Australia – the last Black and White to do that before him was Jansin Turgut, and again we wish the former FC larker all the best as he battles his injuries in Ibiza. Cam though was superb here. His pace is something we haven’t seen a lot of, but when he gets in the clear he’s got some wheels, something that given a strong defensive game will make him a big hit when the time is right.
As usual Hull FC have some great youngsters coming through. There’s another in Ben McNamara, son of former Black and White Steve, who played his first outing at this level and scored a debut try. Elsewhere Charlie Graham showed up well and continued his fine first year at the club, scoring thanks to a neat and well weighted kick from Lochlan Fitzgerald.
There was more positive news with Jack Brown’s return to playing from an ankle injury for the first time since his Super League debut in Perpignan. He added power along with Levy Nzoungou and both had to play more minutes given just the three interchange options – Lewis Bienek was originally named in the squad but didn’t feature due to Batley’s desire to play him this weekend.
A whole host of City of Hull Academy players got a run out too, the majority of which you’d assume will either play for Hull FC’s Reserves or Under 19s in 2020 – no more merger bollocks from next year after all – something that was clearly well received from the Airlie Birds we spoke to.
We won’t lie, we need some time to get up to speed with some of those lads, given that we haven’t watched the merged-malarkey in two years, but Jordan Webster at half back never shied away from the ball and was vocal throughout – good traits for any pivot.
Credit must go to Hull given they only played the game with sixteen players. In fact these lads come together and train for one hour a week, so any combinations between that of a first team and academy/amateur player are impressive. Roll on next year with a more full-blooded and compulsory reserve competition.
As for Wakefield, they were in the game for more periods than the end result suggests and they actually started both halves well. Their Academy side played Castleford in the first part of a double header and in the Reserves there were familiar names from the first two fixtures at this level. Callum Hudson, another speed demon, scored another try whilst further points were posted by Elliot Caine and Martin Reilly.
Trinity had their moments, they just came undone by those Hull FC lads with first team experience. Class wise the likes of Litten and Scott were a level above, especially the former. It was Litten of course who set up Gotts’ try following Caine’s opener, before Scott picked up a loose ball to race away. Litten then ran from the ruck again, with Webster going over for a third try. Scott added a fourth before the break.
In the second half Wakefield scored back-to-back tries through Reilly and Hudson, before Hull clicked into gear again. Scott completed his hat-trick, before McNamara scored a fine individual try. Graham then got Hull’s seventh try, before fittingly Litten rounded off the scoring with a fine solo effort.
Wakefield Starting XIII: 1. Robbie Butterworth, 5. Callum Hudson, 4. Elliot Caine, 3. Jack Croft, 2. Harrison Van Der Wal, 6. Lewis Teale, 7. Owen Hughes, 8. Jack Ray, 9. Harvey Whiteley, 10. Martyn Reilly, 11. Daniel King, 12. Dane Windrow, 13. Jordan Schofield. Interchange: 14. Jocelyn Landu, 15. Harry Bowes, 16. Callum Bacon, 17. Moris Kenano, 18. Harry Dodd.
Wakefield Tries: Caine, Reilly, Hudson. Goals: 2/3
Hull Starting XIII: 29. Lochlan Fitzgerald, 2. Charlie Graham, 3. Jack Bartlett, 5. Cameron Scott, 14. Josh Atkinson, 6. Ben McNamara, 7. Jordan Webster, 16. Jack Brown, 9. Jez Litten, 11. Levy Nzoungou, 12. Ryan Langton, 15. Elliot Townsend, 18. Harvey Gotts. Interchange: 17. Ryan Price, 19. George Cooke, 28. Callum Stark.
Hull Tries: Gotts, Scott 3, Webster, McNamara, Graham, Litten. Goals: Scott 1/1, Litten 7/7
UTC Man of the Match: Jez Litten
Scoring System: 6-0, 6-6, 6-12, 6-18, 6-24, 12-24, 16-24, 16-30, 16-36, 16-42, 16-48