Following Hull FC is easy, but being emotionally attached to them is a bloody nightmare.
The ride should come with a health warning. Seriously. They test you week after week with a range of emotions, with this one panning out into another chaotic medley of rugby league madness as Brett Hodgson’s side shared the spoils with Warrington following a 14-all draw.
A war of attrition between two defences on top, the game took a while to get going but once it hit its stride it was absorbing, with Jake Mamo taking yet another Super League game into Golden Point with a match levelling try on the hooter. Sickening from a Hull point of view, who took the lead on three separate occasions and who will be gutted to only take a point from a game that they should have closed out, but from a general rugby league stance, it was another dramatic chapter in the sports mental start to the 2021 season.
From the Eastern shore of Australia to the North of England, its the greatest show on earth, and it never disappoints. Here at the KCOM Stadium, the second half upped through the gears as the two sides exchanged tries and whilst the extra ten minutes aren’t for everyone, you’ve got to move with the times. Golden Point usually creates moments of sheer utter ecstasy, you know like Tom Burgess crashing his way over for South Sydney on Saturday morning, that make highlight reels go viral and get people talking about the sport we all love.
The gimmick provides drama and drama usually brings with it entertainment, and even if (and for the first time in Super League history) it failed to provide a winner. Aye, there were moments from both sides that could have been better managed as the final few minutes descended into a farce in what is usually Marc Sneyd’s playground, but it was tense to the point where you couldn’t take your eyes off it, even if you wanted to crawl under a rock. It was just sods law for the Iceman, who tends to be cool as cucumber in these situations, that he missed all of his opportunities, including one in normal time before Mamo got the leveller that would have put Hull seven points ahead and likely on their way to a fourth successive win in all competitions. Nobodies perfect after all, not even that left boot.
At least with Golden Point there’s a voice for both sides of the debate, and unlike rugby league’s latest and totally unnecessary experiments with rule tinkering which leaves most viewers raging more than Barrie McDermott when a player gets penalised for a high shot. Discouraging tactical kicks to the corners that happen to find touch with a restart in the middle of the pitch is absolute bollocks, as is the new strip rule, something that Warrington really tried to utilise. It’s a dangerous road to go down and we’ll end up with minimal second phase play with players petrified of losing the ball, instead tucking it under their jumpers for a safe hit up. Sounds fun that. Not.
Moving on from rugby leagues hottest topics, there’s no denial that this contest eventually went up a notch after what was at best a nip and tuck first half. In truth the opening forty minutes were cagey to say the least with action at a premium. There wasn’t a lot between the two sides as defences, particularly Hull’s who seemed to scramble more to stay in the game, were on top. It wasn’t the highest quality either – with forward passes galore and silly penalties given away – and the scores were locked at 2-2 going into half time. However, the second half was a different story. The game had to open up eventually and ironically it was from a piece of brilliance in broken play.
Jordan Lane. Take a bow. The homegrown back rower has been absolutely sublime in the opening weeks of the season and it was his expert line running that opened Warrington up for both of Hull’s tries. Lane, returning to his back row spot after a reshuffle due to injuries, was the best player on the park by a country mile. Amongst his strength, eye for the gap, and general craft, he’s got a clean pair of heels, managing to power then weave his way past defenders, with Jake Connor and then Carlos Tuimavave finishing off two excellent tries.
Warrington, who tested their arm but couldn’t get through Hull’s line, eventually got some joy. Both of their tries from Hull’s point of view though were sickeners. First Daryl Clark getting the ball free in a three-man tackle to put Chris Hull under the sticks, before Mamo’s final play of the original eighty that saw Hull’s left edge falter for the first and most crucial time.
It just had to didn’t it after being resilient for the previous 79 minutes and 50 seconds. That’s rugby league though – it’s a game of inches and quite literally so with the play that unfolded prior to Wire getting their chance to crawl their way back. Again, absolutely gut-wrenching and you can certainly question Hull’s game management in the final few minutes, but here we are, four games in and still unbeaten. There’s solitude to take in the reality that there’s no way Hull would have avoided defeat in the same situation last year, the Hull side who crumbled more times than not when the going got tough. The progress is there to see, but also is the hindrance of a few dumb plays, giving away penalties in particular, that still get under your skin – and especially after all the solid work led by Danny Houghton in defence, the biggest and most notable improvement in Hull this year. Worth noting too that Mint’s 85-tackle haul is a new rugby league record, having eclipsed totals seen in both the NRL and Super League since Opta records began in 2003.
Yet up against a quality opponent Hull showed a lot of fight. They dug deep and the way they took the lead was spectacular in an attacking performance that was satisfactory at best. The poise that sparked the opening two rounds was lacking, and Hull struggled to shake Warrington off. The effort in defence though was outstanding, just the big smarts just let them down when it mattered most.
Amongst a Man of the Match display from Lane, it must be said the man on the opposite flank Andre Savelio was also sublime. He’s really coming into his stride and has been doing so since the back end of last season. Joe Cator too was excellent (is he ever not), but it’s his fellow Hull-born pal that deserves the big plaudits. The Lane Train at its destructive best. He was incredible.
On the right wing Bureta Faraimo was preferred to Mahe Fonua, with the former not putting a foot wrong after fighting his way back into the team. All the middles were strong, with the Warrington pack also resolute in a game that wouldn’t have cut it for the perfectionist. Ben McNamara too never went hiding.
Both sides were just lacking some crisp execution, but that’s perhaps a disrespect to both of their defences. It was a solid contest, only some expert line running and a freak last play opened it up, and in the end a draw, a crazy one at that, was probably the fair result.
Hull Starting XIII: 1. Jake Connor, 2. Bureta Faraimo, 3. Carlos Tuimavave, 4. Josh Griffin, 21. Adam Swift, 19. Ben McNamara, 7. Marc Sneyd, 8. Scott Taylor, 9. Danny Houghton, 10. Chris Satae, 11. Andre Savelio, 16. Jordan Lane, 15. Joe Cator. Interchange: 22. Josh Bowden, 17. Brad Fash, 20. Jack Brown, 24. Cameron Scott (unused).
Hull Tries: Connor, Tuimavave. Goals: Sneyd 3/3
Warrington Starting XIII: 1. Stefan Ratchford, 23. Josh Thewlis, 18. Jake Mamo, 4. Toby King, 5. Josh Charnley, 6. Blake Austin, 7. Gareth Widdop, 8. Chris Hill, 9. Daryl Clark, 10. Mike Cooper, 11. Ben Currie, 12. Jack Hughes, 15. Matt Davies. Interchange: 14. Jason Clark, 13. Joe Philbin, 19. Robbie Mulhern, 16. Danny Walker.
Warrington Tries: Hill, Mamo. Goals: Ratchford 2/2, Widdop 1/1
Scoring System: 2-0, 2-2, HT, 8-2, 8-8, 14-8, 14-14, FT
Referee: Robert Hicks
Attendance: Behind Closed Doors