Attacking Hull FC

Hull FC can attack! Yes the team known for their defending and low risk strategy are flinging the ball around with absolute abandon, and it’s working spectacularly well at the moment, as evidenced by their two games so far this year.

As we all know, their near neighbours were gobbled up and spat back out with absolutely genuine contempt, and now in their opening game of Super League Salford Red Devils have been treated with similar disdain.

It’s no joke, when the Airlie Birds make a break with one of their punishingly big forwards, there are 4,5,6 or even more players to be seen charging forward in support, both backs and forwards turning opposition players, particularly full-backs, into mere traffic wardens pointing players in different directions to the try line.

Power and drive are a big part of Hull’s game now and the pack will get lots of headlines and rightly so, but like the old saying tells us, forwards win you matches, but your backs decide by how many points and, with blistering pace and guile and enthusiasm, Hull’s backs are definitely taking full advantage of the gaps being presented to them.

As evidence of this, Hull scored 8 tries against the Red Devils, all from different try scorers, and 6 of those came from backs, with Marc Sneyd, the only back not to score, pulling his former clubs defence apart due to the time and space he was afforded behind a pack that was utterly dominant.

Carlos Tuimavave is proving to be a big success thus far, the half back is relishing playing at centre and producing breaks, passes and tries with monotonously stunning regularity.

In the process he’s leaving defenders floundering in his wake and producing gaping holes in opposition defensive lines as wide as the Humber to put his winger, full-back or himself through.

On the other side young Jack Logan is sniping and getting on the shoulder of his big forwards to get on the end of a move and, when he can’t finish it himself, he’s producing a peach of a pass to his winger or whoever’s closest to him in a black and white shirt.

With Jamie Shaul expertly positioning himself to make a break or profit from one with his searing pace and excellent vision let’s not forget that this back division has got enough to challenge, and hurt, certainly most sides in the competition.

We also need to remember the supporting cast for this back division includes the likes of Callum Lancaster and Curtis Naughton both of which Super League are certainly aware of with both having scored tries, indeed hat-trick’s to boot, against notable opposition such as St. Helens, Castleford, Widnes and Warrington between them.

So yes everybody keep lauding the pack put together by former forward Lee Radford, just don’t forget that’s not all that Hull have in their locker, either on the pitch or waiting in the wings.

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The Difference in Hull FC For 2016

After two pre season games, one for a mostly youth team and one for the first team, Hull FC fans are understandably excited having seen them rack up an impressive 106 points in what were, after all, first hit-outs for the two contrasting teams employed against dual reg partners Doncaster and deadly local rivals Hull KR, but what exactly is different with the black and white’s compared to previous years?

The answer would appear to be, and genuinely is, quite simple because suddenly Lee Radford’s men have gone from a largely defensive unit that could be as miserly as Ebenezer Scrooge himself, to being an effervescent, exciting attacking side who have the players to cause mayhem in any defence in Super League.

Obviously the main evidence of this was in the Clive Sullivan Memorial Trophy match against their nearest and dearest at the KC Stadium, but looking at the game at Doncaster there was also much that showed a new attacking fluency in the Airlie Birds ranks, not the least of which was the hat-trick of young winger Callum Lancaster.

Concentrating however on the derby match, what seemed to strike most people was Hull’s enthusiasm going forward. The defence was still strong until the last few minutes, but Hull now appear to have put a threateningly organised attack along with it.

Last year the Airlie Birds were 2nd in the league for clean breaks, unfortunately their major failing was an inability to back those breaks up and turn them into tries, against the Robins however that was a problem that was ruthlessly put to bed as a rampant new-look Hull put them to the sword.

As the breaks kept coming so did the support play and, most importantly, the tries with destructive power, pace, imagination and guile all very much on display in a performance which belied the fact that it was the first hit out for most of them this year.

With a pack that carries genuine grunt, strength, power and considerable ball-handling skill as displayed already, a half-back pairing with handling, kicking and running ability, a back five with pace to burn, support play and try-scoring ability and all armed with a supporting cast of hungry and massively talented youth, it’s a combination that must have Lee Radford rubbing his hands with glee

A pack including the likes of Frank Pritchard, Gareth Ellis, Sika Manu, Mark Minichiello, Liam Watts, Scott Taylor, Jordan Thompson, Jordan Abdull, Danny Houghton, Josh Bowden and Chris Green, backed up by Jansin Turgut, Richard Whiting, Jack Downs, Brad Fash, Masimbaashe Matongo and Danny Washbrook will be the main part of any success the black and white’s have this year.

But just as important as that frightening pack will be the likes of Jamie Shaul, Carlos Tuimavave, Fetuli Talanoa, Mahe Fonua, Steve Michaels, Jack Logan, Lee Smith, Leon Pryce and Marc Sneyd who will have to take advantage of the holes that will be punched in several defensive lines throughout the season and being very ably backed up by Reece Dean, Callum Lancaster and Harry Tyson-Wilson etc.

With a squad like that 2016 could just be the year the transition comes to fruition.

Hull FC, Youth and Leeds Rhinos

The average age of the Hull FC squad against Leeds Rhinos was 23 years old, and it was pushed up to that by the presence of 33 year old Mark Minichiello and 32 year old Feka Palea’aesina.

During the match at the KC Stadium the Rhinos, in certain quarters, looked like a team who had a trip to Wembley for the Ladbroke’s Challenge Cup Final on their mind, Hull looked like a side who had youthful energy and desire on theirs.

As would be expected it was the treble chasing Rhinos who came out on top 22-36, but not until they had a thorough examination from a fledgling group of young players with a smattering of senior, experienced players.

In recent weeks and months the defensively robust Airlie Birds have suddenly removed the shackles and started flinging the ball around and, at times, it has worked to great affect, although probably not enough to worry the bigger sides like a Leeds Rhinos or a Wigan Warriors.

Since Lee Radford has been in charge of the team on the black and white side of Hull one thing he hasn’t been afraid to do is to bring his youth players into the first team set-up.

Callum Lancaster, Jordan Abdull, Jack Logan, Jansin Turgut, Brad Fash, Jack Downs, Curtis Naughton and brothers Harry and Bobby Tyson-Wilson have all been given their opportunity to show what they can do and have seemingly dealt with it with great maturity and zest.

Against the best team in the land the baton was handed to Naughton (who scored a hat-trick at the home of the Super League champions a week earlier) Fash, Downs and, dare we say it, first team regulars Logan and Abdull.

While the talk in Hull, on both sides, is of the creation of a ‘Super Academy’ by merging the academies of the bitter rivals Hull FC and Hull KR there is outrage and disgust and incredulity at a statement by Hull FC chairman Adam Pearson who stated that it is necessary because there isn’t enough of a talent pool available for the two clubs to have separate academies.

Never mind the fact that the black and white’s academy was recently rated by the RFL as ‘Outstanding’ if you wanted a sign of the talent being produced you need only look on the pitch at the KC Stadium.

Such was the impression made by this very young Hull side it prompted Rhinos head-coach Brian McDermott to announce that a 14 point victory margin for his side was harsh on the home side and he “Couldn’t have complained if we had lost.”

Any team needs its elder statesmen but it also needs its youth production line and, right now, it has to be said that the production line at Hull FC is looking very healthy, and as evidenced by their upcoming trip to Wembley to face the Rhinos, there isn’t much wrong with the one at Hull KR either although they maybe do have a bit of catching up to do, although a ‘Good’ rating from the RFL suggests they are heading in the right direction.

The man of the match for Hull FC last night was another product of the youth set-up at Hull FC, Jamie Shaul had been a bit of a forgotten man but he took his chance with a sublime try against St. Helens last week and took a beautiful offload from Jack Downs to race 90 meters to the line last night.

Add to that his creation of tries for Steve Michaels and Jordan Rankin, the man who has largely kept him out of the team this year, and it must almost be like bringing in a new signing for Hull.

It seems to me that the future in Hull is very bright in black and white, so why fix what ain’t broken?

NEWS/SPORT...with James Smailes, 06/11/14  :  Hull Daily Mail Sporting Champion Awards, held at the Wilberforce Suite, KC Stadium, Hull.  Pictured, Sporting Champion Award Winner, Jordan Abdull.  Picture: Jerome Ellerby

Jack Logan Jamie Shaul Derby Match

Doncaster RL v Hull FC report

A largely youthful Hull FC side got the clubs 150th Anniversary year off to a winning start with a hard fought 29-28 victory against Championship side Doncaster at the Keepmoat Stadium yesterday.

With Feka Paleaaesina, Chris Green and Liam Watts the only senior players in the side for the first game of a double header for the visitors it was a team that had its roots in the aspiring under 19s team who were all out to impress the watching Lee Radford against stern opposition.

New signing Curtis Naughton was handed the chance to shine in the battle for the full back position and this he did with 2 tries and 4 goals for a personal haul of 16 points.

After a very physical opening to the game it was the visitors who settled into their rhythm first and were soon rattling up points and showing some great handling skills and stand off Jordan Abdull stood out as he swaggered around the pitch pushing even his more senior colleagues into the right areas.

Hull raced into a 16-0 lead inside the opening quarter of an hour, the first try came from Naughton after he supported a great break down the left by Abdull.

Shortly after that some fast hands from left to right allowed winger Callum Smith to finish assuredly in the corner and then scrum half Harry Tyson-Wilson made a smart break in broken play and handed on to Jack Logan for the centre to race in under the posts.

Two soft penalties allowed Doncaster to build pressure on the Hull line and Mike Kelly took advantage to barge over for the hosts first try which was converted by winger Stewart Sanderson.

A few minutes later Doncaster were in again as a fast move down their left exposed some more defensive frailties and allowed Sanderson to score in the corner, the winger hit the post with the conversion attempt but still Doncaster were back in the game at 16-10.

Hull built pressure again on the Doncaster line but a chance was spurned as the ball was dropped just 10 metres from the Doncaster line.

Hull finished the half more sprightly and a 40 metre break from Callum Lancaster down the left wing was supported by Curtis Naughton who cantered in under the posts and added the conversion as the half time hooter sounded to give Hull a 22-10 lead going into the break.

Hull started off the 2nd half with another try, fast hands between Naughton, Joe Arundel and Lancaster led to a gaping hole in the Doncaster defence which Abdull strolled through to get the try that his performance deserved, another Naughton conversion left the score at 28-10.

Russ Spiers grabbed a smart try for Doncaster to reduce the arrears to 28-16 and then a moment of controversy led to the gap being reduced to 6 points. The worrying factor for Hull was Dave Scott brushed off 5 would-be tacklers on his way to scoring but during his run a Hull player was clearly obstructed by Scott running behind one of his own team mates, but with the new obstruction rule in place the referee allowed play to carry on as Scott went over beside the posts.

By this point Doncaster were very much in the ascendency and sniffing a shock comeback victory and another try came from Jack Walton for them despite a forward pass which the referee clearly missed and so with less than 10 minutes to go the scores were level at 28 all.

However with just 4 minutes remaining Hull again showed some smart game management to build pressure on the home line and Abdull capped a man of the match performance by stroking over a drop goal to claim the victory that they deserved.

There was still time for some drama as Doncaster forced a scrum on the Hull 10 metre line but the defence scrambled well to keep them at bay and prevent any further addition to the scoring.