Considering the opposition was virtually a full strength Super League line up, Hull FC can be pretty satisfied with that, even if two late Wakefield tries were enough to edge out the Airlie Birds 30-24 on Sunday afternoon.
Competing on Danny Washbrook’s big day for the David Topliss Memorial Trophy, Hull will probably feel they should have seen the game out after giving a very good account of themselves in the second half. They were some positives and definitely some encouragement from a number of players, but we shouldn’t feel hard done by a six point defeat. If anything it probably shows that we’ll go unbeaten in the league, never mind just get to Old Trafford. Make sure ‘Funny Rugby League’ gets the memo.
Concern post-match was all about Albert Kelly, who picked up a minor injury to his shoulder during the game, but thankfully he is okay, and should be fine to start the serious stuff at, floodlight permitting, Caravan Park on February 1st. Kelly played just about forty minutes and his performance showed flashes of the quality we all know he has in his locker. Elsewhere there were slight knocks too for Brad Fash and Levy Nzoungou, but it’s not thought to be anything severe.
Meanwhile Wakefield played all their big guns with a pack that probably exceeds the weight of all four Burgess-brothers combined, and that’s just Pauli Pauli alone. They went pretty much full tilt, whereas Hull played some senior players in spells but predominately had a more young/fringe player line up. Bias aside, we’ll probably be the happier of the two teams.
Of those players, young prop Jack Brown really stood out. The teenager was good at Doncaster last week but against top flight opposition he was even better, putting himself about with both the ball in hand and in defence. He’s not intimidated by anything or anyone, put a few shots on, and channels his aggression well. There’s definitely potential here. With the volume of minutes he played, he was the pick of certainly the forwards and with front rowers having more experience on the field too that’s testament to him. A bright future? Let’s hope so.
Elsewhere Hakim Miloudi really impressed us being a calming influence whilst playing in the halves. It’s a side to his game he hasn’t showed that often, as everything with him seems so energetic and mental. This was welcome. The Frenchmen put in loads of pressure kicks and passed well, linking with Jake Connor, who produced the obligatory play or two of genuine class to warm the travelling away following. Missed that this winter, not to mention his 40/20s and cheeky grin. Haven’t missed that Belle Vue side terrace or January cold though.
Getting themselves into a promising 18-6 lead the team that played the first twenty minutes included the likes of Scott Taylor, Danny Houghton, Jamie Shaul, Jordan Thompson and Washbrook himself, who ran a great line and put on some neat footwork to score his try.
To see some of the regulars back and getting a few minutes under their belts was pleasing. Shaul was impressive; dependable, energetic and just a pleasure to watch. His returns were purposeful and his effort is second to none. We need to appreciate more just how much this lad loves playing for his home-town club and how he gives 100% every time he pulls on the shirt. He’s a credit to us all. From the ruck Houghton came up with a couple of neat plays, and Thompson went really well on his return. New winger Matty Dawson-Jones played a lot of the game and whilst he didn’t get much ball, he did nothing wrong.
Hull’s middles, an area where we ourselves have been guilty of suggesting there’s potential for a weakness, looked strong. Both Taylor and Mickey Paea scored a try each from forward plays and that was good to see, showing that the supremacy can still be there when required. It’s on the edges where Wakefield beat us, scoring three tries on the right edge in the first half alone. With a teenager in Cam Scott and a trialist in Ratu Naulago deployed up against an England winger in Tom Johnstone that was only natural. Ratu, or as we call him; Roland, scored again, getting a try by squeezing himself over the line following some slick handling from Miloudi and Connor. The Fijian has done enough to warrant a spell in the Reserves and then as with every player the ball is in their court to show what they can do.
After a high scoring first half (20-18 at half time), both sides muscled up but Hull had the better of the ball and field position. They put pressure on and therefore credit has to go to Wakefield as we scored just the one try after the break. Their defence was decent with Jordan Cox coming closest, ruled to have been held up over the try line. Having had the lead for a while with chances to extend it, a try from speedster Ryan Hampshire was a bit of a sucker punch. He showed some real gas to round Connor Wynne, who didn’t get enough ball to add to his impressive display last week. The same can be said of Jack Logan, but he played the full game and was pretty solid. From there Johnstone got his hat-trick try and that was that.
What was perhaps most pleasing from the display is for all the time Hull were in the lead, it was achieved whilst players like Masimbaashe Matongo, Danny Langtree, Jordan Lane and Brown were on the field. On that note the future looks promising. Brown really was superb. This all bodes well as it’s almost certain that one or two younger middles, given injuries to Josh Bowden, Joe Westerman and Chris Green, will feature against Rovers.
The only negative really was that Dean Hadley came on at hooker before Jez Litten entered the field. One can understand the logic given the sheer size of Wakefield, but we don’t want to go down the road of playing back rowers at nine when we’ve got a promising one on the bench. Litten when he came on, and as always, was fazed by nothing and attacked the line whenever an opportunity presented itself. Really we’re clutching at straws here to find something to moan about. Maybe surprisingly so but Bureta Faraimo only got a cameo. However he was energetic and ran the ball superbly in his time on the field. That’s no concern though as he’ll be the right winger when it all starts again next month.
All in all it was definitely a beneficial exercise for Lee Radford, who will have taken note of some of the displays for sure, with St Helens away still to come before the Super League opener. For Washy it was a celebration of his career, and there have been plenty of great moments whilst he has been playing for Hull. It was a shame we couldn’t lift a pre-season trophy in David Topliss’ name, but we probably got what we wanted from it. One thing is for sure though, it’s going to take a bit of getting used to seeing Gareth Ellis in the dugout with a headset on. It’s just weird. He could probably still go round again this year. Captain. Leader. Legend.
Hull Starting XIII: Jamie Shaul, Ratu Naulago, Cameron Scott, Jack Logan, Matty Dawson-Jones, Albert Kelly, Jake Connor, Scott Taylor, Danny Houghton, Mickey Paea, Dean Hadley, Danny Washbrook, Jordan Thompson.
Interchange: Jack Brown, Jordan Cox, Bureta Faraimo, Brad Fash, Jordan Lane, Jez Litten, Masimbaashe Matongo, Hakim Miloudi, Levy Nzoungou, Danny Langtree, Charlie Patterson-Lund, Connor Wynne.
Hull Tries: Washbrook, Taylor, Paea, Naulago. Goals: Washbrook 1/1, Connor 3/3