Pre-season rule number one: little team will always pick strong team to take to big team, and then gloat about winning when in reality they have about as much chance as Stevie Wonder has of driving without a car crash than making the Super League top eight.
That’s probably a fair reflection of Hull FC’s first friendly in 2018, which left East Hull residents ecstatic following their big win, and West Hull residents satisfied with what they saw. Don’t get us wrong, the fan in us will be pissed off with losing to Rovers, but it’s about the bigger picture. If you can get past that and look at the fact that the two selected teams speak volumes about how one club thinks about the other, then you’ll realise why one club has won at Wembley two years in a row, and why the other has just come up from a part-time league.
For one club it was a Cup final and for the other an opportunity to look at the tools at their disposal beyond their first seventeen. Perspective. With twelve of the first team still in the infancy of pre-season, just three players that will likely start against Huddersfield in Round One started for Hull, and given that they at one stage of the game lead by eight points, that’s not a bad feat.
For the Black and Whites, this was about not only celebrating the career of one Danny Houghton, but also getting minutes into the legs of people like Jack Logan, who after suffering injury hell for the past year, stood up to give a decent performance. He never stopped going all game did Jack, whether deployed on the wing or at centre and that’s testament to him, showing traits of a player who is hellbent on getting himself back into the fold at this club. The same can be said of Dean Hadley, who as usual grafted his arse off for the FC cause. Hakim Miloudi showed some bright moments on debut too but he seems to have a daft error in him. I was impressed too with Jordan Abdull who showed some nice touches despite (probably) eating half of Kashmir’s kebab stocks the night before, and Josh Griffin who was solid on the left edge. But in truth, it was one of those three likely Round One starters who really excelled.
The Jake Connor fan club is blooming once again after another excellent performance. The centre come Stand-Off was brilliant throughout the match and proved that the potential in his locker to become one of the sports best global players really is there. Right now I don’t think that statement is even an over-reaction, as he’s that good. Some might say it was ‘only Rovers’ but we’re talking here about a player that tore up opposition defences right the way through last season too. It’s like he picked up from where he left off at Leeds in the play-off game last year and if he keeps that form up then England honours, providing we have a coach that can tell his left from right, should be an absolute formality. Scoring two tries and producing a sublime Sneyd-like 40/20, Connor took the Man of the Match reward on Mint’s big day, but rightly so. He’s just different class that lad.
Connor was involved in everything good Hull did, and it must be said, the twenty minutes either side of half-time were superb. Hull in that period played some great stuff and given that we’re in January that’s exciting. When the Black and Whites get their mojo clicking they’re a bloody good side, and I’m not short on confidence to say that we’re going to have some special moments in Wollongong, London and Greater Manchester this year.
With the two squads named, to be within two points of Rovers with two minutes to go is a respectable achievement. If it was the other way around nothing short of a 40-point win would have been good enough for Hull – that’s the way I see it and I bet Mr Shines is sweating bullets regarding transfer activity between now and the start of February.
But to our own borders it was a positive enough display. Some players did their chances of selection for Super League game-time, the paramount of which is the trip to Australia, no harm. The only negative really from our point of view is how Hull, like last year, when the playing field evened up a bit, conceded tries late on. We were all set up for a win at 26-18, but some poor edge defence paved the way for a different story. At this stage it was youngsters v youngsters, and whilst most fans would love to point the finger at the City of Hull Academy, I don’t think it’s that simple. We saw our most promising talent from that regime, Jack Brown, get a run out, and he was decent, but saying that, the two lads on the right edge, were not. Something to work on, and that’s where Doncaster comes into the fold.
Still though, an exciting afternoon full of action with a mountain of Talking Points to discuss on the radio this week. Rugby League, not to mention those gorgeous Black and White irregular hoops, are back.
“Good at Rugby and Rugby Golf, he’s got the full package really.”
Hull Starting XIII: 28. Hakim Miloudi, 24. Jack Logan, 14. Jake Connor, 4. Josh Griffin, 19. Nick Rawsthorne, 16. Jordan Abdull, 7. Marc Sneyd, 20. Brad Fash, 9. Danny Houghton, 29. Masimbaashe Matongo, 17. Danny Washbrook, 25. Jansin Turgut, 11. Dean Hadley. Interchange: 31. Ross Osborne, 27. Jack Downs, 26. Jordan Lane, 22. Jez Litten, 30. Cameron Scott, 32. Jack Sanderson, Connor Scott, Liam Harris, Jack Brown, Kieran Buchanan.
Hull Tries: Griffin, Connor 2, Sanderson, Abdull. Goals: Sneyd 2/3, Connor 1/2.
Hull Man of the Match: No brainer. Jake Connor.
Rovers Starting XIII: Adam Quinlan, Ryan Shaw, Maurice Blair, Danny Addy, Justin Carney, Danny McGuire, Matty Marsh, Mose Masoe, Tommy Lee, Robbie Mulhern, Liam Salter. James Greenwood, Chris Clarkson. Interchange: Kieren Moss, Brad Clavering, Chris Atkin, Joe Cator, Will Oakes, Will Dagger, Thibault Franck, Nabil Djalout, Adam Rooks, Jake Butler-Fleming.
Rovers Tries: Greenwood, Shaw, Butler-Fleming, Oakes, Marsh, Moss. Goals: Shaw 4/5, Oakes 1/1.
Scoring System: 0-6, 0-12, 4-12, 10-12, 16-12, 16-18, 20-18, 26-18, 26-22, 26-28, 26-34.
Attendance: Ask Ehab
Referee: Jack Smith