Hull FC had their defence to thank yet again as they ran out 20-14 winners over Wakefield on Friday night.
Here is Up the Cream’s Five Things column.
1. Defence on point
It’s been Brett Hodgson’s buzzword from the first minute and yet again Hull FC’s defensive effort was outstanding against Wakefield.
The visitors had the lions share of possession, more chances to score, and the better territory, but they only managed three tries, two of which were freak incidents in an interception and charge-down, with the other coming off a kick.
Keeping Wakefield at bay and not letting them through their line, Hull, who’s errors and lack of discipline (apparently) contributed to what seemed a constant flow of opposition attacks, showed their resilience and character once more to shut them out.
The defensive progress has been staggering this year and whilst this wasn’t the most flashiest win in the world, as far as effort and resilience go, there’s still a lot of pride to take from it.
2. More needed from the attack
The Wakefield game was a five-day turnaround after another huge defensive effort against Warrington, and with their marquee man out, Marc Sneyd playing on one leg, and with a young but improving half in Ben McNamara, you can perhaps understand it, but the challenge for Hull this year is to keep on improving and there’s definitely some room there to do so in what this side do with the ball.
After the free flowing nature of the first three games, the last two really have been about the defence. It’s great that Hull can roll their sleeve up and show how tough they are, but again they had to because of their own error counts and their own poor discipline (although set restarts have a lot to be desired – not consistent and urgently need looking at).
Hull had limited chances at the Wakefield end, especially in a first half that was dominated by the latter. They threw one pass into touch and another was intercepted. It’s alright encouraging an expansive attack, but you’ve also got to earn the right to play by building pressure and setting some foundations. Hull could have been better in how they did that.
3. The Catonator
Joe Cator was SENSATIONAL against Wakefield. He’s developing into a real leader of this side and he’s still only 22-years-young.
Cator never stops. He’s been as good as anything Hull have produced this year, topping the tackle count with 54 and producing last ditch efforts and wins when they mattered most. With the ball too he was strong, almost topping the 100 metre mark after bending the Wakefield line.
Whether starting at loose forward or coming off the bench, it doesn’t seem to matter. Cator’s energy levels are off the scale. He’s a freak. A brilliant player and a future captain at that. The sky is the limit.
4. Swift by name, Swift by nature
Playing all four of the opening Super League games, Adam Swift has been Hull FC’s best winger this year.
Against Wakefield, and whilst there were one or two errors, his enthusiasm really showed, with the former St Helens man looking to make things happen with his carries and workload. He came infield for the ball and ran well, showing his pace, and scoring a crucial try in a key period of the game when Hull were a man down.
At 28, he’s absolutely worth a new deal. The club might have to make a tough decision there, with Bureta Faraimo, who will probably face a ban for a hard tackle on Max Jowitt, also out of contract at the end of the year.
5. Where are Hull FC at?
What do we all expect of Hull FC this year? Three pieces of silverware? A final appearance? Or just to compete in every game? Adam Pearson may well have given us all Grand Final sound bites in pre-season but we’re on the side of the latter. We want to see improvements week by week both defensively and in attack and then as that consistency comes into Hull’s game, the results will take care of themselves. We’ve got that so far, particularly in the former, and the next two games against one of the big boys in Wigan will show just how much this side have evolved.
When Hull get beat, and the defeats will come eventually, it’s how they get beat. The embarrassing loses of the past few years have to stop and given the defensive effort in recent weeks, one can be confident that they are now a thing of the past.
This is a good squad with a lot of quality, it’s easy to forget that the win against Wakefield was achieved without probably the three players on the biggest salaries, and Hull showed their mantle to dig in and get a result. They’ll have to step it up in the next few weeks, and and as long as they continue to show improvement, they’ve got every chance of upsetting the apple cart.