Imagine bringing forward a Challenge Cup tie against little Leigh in order to get one more days rest ahead of your big Cup final, only to then bottle it and concede 56-points to Hull FC, your biggest rivals, the undoubted and proven Kings of Hull. Those boys from Poorhouse Lane, they really are the gift that keeps on giving.
But then again, it didn’t take much more than an average IQ to realise Hull FC would beat Rovers with the large majority of their big guns back, but few would have predicted a 56-12 score-line. Complete and utter dominance, with more records broken than bottles thrown by the numpties in the North Stand.
That was an absolutely magnificent display from Hull FC. Their ruthless attack was sensational, but the dead dead Dobins were horrendously bad. They couldn’t deal with the slimy snake that is the world class talent Jake Connor, and if that wasn’t enough, freebie Albert Kelly tore them a new one when he came onto the field. Kelly was incredible, as was Sneyd and just about everyone else in a Black and White shirt that captivated an atmospheric Derby day crowd.
Nine tries followed, with Sneyd adding ten goals for a Derby individual record of 20-points in a game. The 56-points scored is also a Derby record, as is the 44-point winning margin. Meanwhile Hull-born Jack Logan, who had a tough time last year and deserves his plaudits now, proved his capability with a Derby hat-trick, becoming the 18th player to achieve the feat. Logan showed great positioning, ability in the air, and pace to score, with six other try scorers completing the rout.
Winning the second half 38-0 after an at times frustrating first half, Hull FC were superb. The way they looked to push the ball to the edges was excellent and every shift between the pivots genuinely created mayhem for the opposition. It’s hard to put into words too how bad that opposition was. No wonder the majority of the away end left with twenty minutes to go. Rovers were abysmal. They were a complete and utter embarrassment. Not that we care, unless from a comedy point of view, as the realisation is that if they don’t buck their ideas up soon then they are relegation fodder, but then again it’s nothing we haven’t seen before, and we quite welcome history to repeat itself.
On the contrary that big win sorts Hull’s points different out and puts Lee Radford’s side into fourth position, or joint third with Castleford. Hull look every bit the play-off contender. They were tough, played fast and direct, and the intent to expand the attack at every given opportunity was, although occasionally to their detriment, a joy to watch. At the heart of that was Connor, along with Sneyd and then Kelly, but you can’t ignore a livewire performance from Danny Houghton either. He was as effective as most, probing at the ruck and scooting out at a tired and retreated opposition defence.
The forwards too were ridiculously good – Italian Stallion Mark Minichiello breaking away and selling dummies to fullbacks despite approaching the age of 50, Gareth Ellis, the old war-horse who this clueless lot ridiculed when he came out of retirement, just like last week at Catalans, was immense. Ellis owned the middle and the rest followed, particularly Masimbaashe Matongo who picked up right where he left off before a shoulder injury, as did Mickey Paea, Joe Westerman and the like.
Young Connor Wynne was given a first Derby of his career and nothing fazed him. The 18-year-old looks like a star of the future after only three first grade games. He’s been composed, showed some class and led the defensive line – getting amongst the tries late on when Hull really stuck the boot in. Added to Logan’s hat-trick were efforts from Minichiello, Westerman, Paea, Kelly and Connor. Kelly’s four pointer was a piece of magic itself, grounded right in front of the North Stand in view of those who have verbally, and in some cases racially, abused him since he crossed the river to the city’s more prestigious and glamorous club two years ago.
The decision to bench Kelly was questioned, but it looks justified now. Most of his involvements were with the ball, he wasn’t throwing himself into tackles like a fruit loop, and he therefore ran Rovers ragged with a mental running game.
Of the outside backs, Carlos Tuimavave was busy and was literally taking the piss breaking out of tackles, whilst Bureta Faraimo was excellent again. There’s talk now that the big winger has signed a new deal and no-one can begrudge him it in the form he’s in.
Speaking of wingers, and after shying away from the limelight in delivering the match ball, it was great to see Fetuli Talanoa saying goodbye to the crowd that have worshipped over the past five and a half years. That post-match reception was one of the best we’ve seen in a while but the Tongan deserves it. He was superb for the club from the word go and played a huge part in both of the Wembley wins. It was pretty emotional watching him line up against his fellow Polynesian members of the Hull FC squad, and we wish him well in retirement.
That itself sums this club up under Lee Radford. The togetherness of the squad is what made them immortals. They did what no other Hull FC squad had achieved before, and right now they’ve got their mojo back.
That’s three wins in a row for the second time this season, and there’s still the likes of Josh Bowden and Jamie Shaul to welcome back into the side. Make no mistake the Airlie Birds will be a play-off side this year, but just how far they can go is probably still a mystery. Sure Hull FC were red-hot this Good Friday, but the Bin Dippers were atrocious. They haven’t won a trophy since 1985 and we ruined their song, but as the cliché goes, you can only beat what is in front of you.
For first grade stats, click here
Hull Starting XIII: 36. Connor Wynne, 24. Jack Logan, 3. Carlos Tuimavave, 4. Josh Griffin, 2. Bureta Faraimo, 14. Jake Connor, 7. Marc Sneyd, 8. Scott Taylor, 9. Danny Houghton, 23. Mickey Paea, 12. Mark Minichiello, 22. Jordan Lane, 34. Gareth Ellis. Interchange: 19. Masimbaashe Matongo, 21. Sika Manu, 13. Joe Westerman, 6. Albert Kelly.
Hull Tries: Connor, Logan 3, Minichiello, Westerman, Paea, Kelly, Wynne. Goals: Sneyd 10/11
Hull 3-2-1 Man of the Match: 3pts Jake Connor, 2pts Albert Kelly, 1pt Danny Houghton
Rovers Starting XIII: 2. Craig Hall, 3. Ben Crooks, 4. Jimmy Keinhorst, 23. Kane Linnett, 25. Will Oakes, 7. Danny McGuire, 24. Josh Drinkwater, 8. Robbie Mulhern, 15. Tommy Lee, 16. Lee Jewitt, 11. Joel Tomkins, 13. Weller Hauraki, 21. George Lawler. Interchange: 14. Mitch Garbutt, 20. Danny Addy, 9. Shaun Lunt, 30. Owen Harrison.
Rovers Tries: Keinhorst, Hall. Goals: Drinkwater 2/2
Scoring System: 6-0, 6-6, 12-6, 18-6, 18-12, HT, 24-12, 26-12, 32-12, 38-12, 44-12, 50-12, 56-12
Referee: Ben Thaler
Up the Cream fanzine Issue 70 – tributes to Fetuli Talanoa. Get your copy here