“Oh but they’re professional athletes” – yes that’s all well and true, but they’re still only human, and fatigue in Hull FC was evident in an 18-10 loss to the noisy neighbours on Thursday night.
Following on from a masterclass in the South of France last weekend, Hull’s players were given Sunday off and did their recovery on Monday, leaving preparation minimal for this Super League clash. Player welfare? Well it’s a myth isn’t it. Just ask Joe Westerman who popped his knee back in for all to see before carrying on. Madness.
Asking a side to play on the Thursday after returning from Perpignan is tough. Not only that but in the height of the French summer, and for a Derby too, a fixture which is the most emotionally and physically draining in the competition. If you believe that doesn’t effect performance then you’re just ignorant. From the euphoria and travel of the week before, Hull were tired, and their display made no mistake in showing it.
That’s not to say Hull threw the towel in – we lost and didn’t get hammered, that’s progress right? To say they wanted it more is disrespectful to our players too, who fronted up and scrambled, but with an increasing error count that contributed to fatigue, we had no finesse about us to post points, and that was the problem. They were better. They deserved the win. We we poor. It’s as simple as that.
For them it was a perfect storm, especially after what happened in the capital a week prior, and knowing our situation. They thrived on that. They bombed numerous chances too. Yes so did we, but the end result could have been a lot uglier. Credit goes to Hull there for their scramble, and of course to the old enemy who deserved the two points in their congested survival battle. By doing so they also sent Gary’s L**ds bottom. Every cloud.
The main instigator in that was Whinos contracted player Matt Parcell, who clinched the game with the final try and was a constant menace throughout. Sir Kev might have been a maestro in his playing days, but he is what Uncle Kath is to glamour modelling when it comes to his work in the boardroom, which from our end has been nothing short of hysterical so far.
Back to the Derby then. Well it hurts – a loss to them bastards is never pretty after all – but we can take solitude in that nothing has changed. Hull are still sat comfortably in third spot on the table and are just one win away from a return to Wembley. Them? Well you don’t need reminding do you? Mind the gap lads, but then again they’ve won the Derby ‘series’ – nothing else matters right? Proper cringe.
To our fronts it’s of course frustrating that our performance level is such a contrast to that of the week before, but this is the Jekyll and Hyde class of 2019. We’re used to this now aren’t we, but we can also respond, as the games following big defeats and Magic Weekend humiliations have proved.
Hull were dealt a massive blow pre-match with the absence of Albert Kelly. The chicken nugget obsessive has been in sensational form recently, and naturally his loss was felt. That meant a reshuffle, with Jake Connor moved to the halves. The right edge has been lethal of late, and losing that fear factor on that side was telling.
Ultimately there was no zip, and it was also a massive reality check to the Connor positional argument. Right now he’s a world class centre, and undoubtedly an understudy to his reportedly favourite position. That’s not to say he can’t learn his favoured role in time, but currently his talents are more suited to the edge. It’s down to him to nurture the needed components. It’s not that they aren’t there. Denver proved that. But we can’t just expect him to pull it out the bag once every few months, and right now Hull will get the best from him in the centre, causing havoc, and linking up with Kelly and Ratu Naulago.
On that front the Fijian was up there as Hull’s strongest players of the night, especially defensively, with at least the one try saver executed in the first half. On the other wing Bureta Faraimo also impressed, as did Andre Savelio when he came on. That’s two consecutive games now where he’s come onto an edge and the side have looked better for it. Danny Houghton also ran his blood to water, his engine levels are ridiculous after all, but sadly some of his team-mates could not replicate them. Of those that could, for instance Faraimo and Josh Griffin, they didn’t see enough of the ball. We weren’t smart.
Hull couldn’t go through or around their opposition. It was a tough night. The side were flat. We were fatigued and with the ball we were poor. On the contrary they got their juices flowing up front and had their beans about them, especially Adam Quinlan who was very good again. Both sides though missed opportunities aplenty and quality wise it wasn’t a great advocate. It was therefore set up for a home win. It’s exactly what they wanted and they obliged.
The Airlie Birds stuck at it, and the Marc Sneyd conversion attempt that hit the post was a massive moment in the game. A successful goal would have made it 12-12 and who knows what would have gone on to happen from there? It wasn’t to be. Faraimo and Savelio tries were cancelled out by efforts for Ben Crooks, Joel Tomkins and Parcell and that was that.
A second defeat at Caravan Park of the year is tough to take, but at the risk of some reassuring arrogance, that’s their barometer, so let them have their moment of glory, we’ve got bigger fish to fry.
Rovers Starting XIII: 1. Adam Quinlan, 5. Ryan Shaw, 23. Kane Linnett, 3. Ben Crooks, 2. Craig Hall, 24. Josh Drinkwater, 7. Danny McGuire, 38. Luis Johnson, 39. Matt Parcell, 36. Daniel Murray, 11. Joel Tomkins, 13. Weller Hauraki, 21. George Lawler. Interchange: 14. Mitch Garbutt, 10. Mose Masoe, 17. Chris Atkin, 37. Harvey Livett.
Rovers Tries: Crooks, Tomkins, Parcell. Goals: Shaw 3/3
Hull Starting XIII: 1. Jamie Shaul, 33. Ratu Naulago, 3. Carlos Tuimavave, 4. Josh Griffin, 2. Bureta Faraimo, 14. Jake Connor, 7. Marc Sneyd, 15. Chris Green, 9. Danny Houghton, 23. Mickey Paea, 21. Sika Manu, 12. Mark Minichiello, 13. Joe Westerman. Interchange: 8. Scott Taylor, 10. Josh Bowden, 35. Andre Savelio, 20. Brad Fash.
Hull Tries: Faraimo, Savelio. Goals: Sneyd 1/2
Hull 3-2-1 Man of the Match: 3pts Danny Houghton, 2pts Andre Savelio, 1pt Ratu Naulago
Scoring System: 0-6, 6-6, 12-6, 12-10, 18-10
Referee: Robert Hicks