Hull FC Season review 2015

It was billed as the 150th anniversary year of Hull FC, despite the feeble attempt at billing it as the 15th anniversary by a small amount of fans from the other side of Hull, but while the Airlie Birds can point to clear progress on their dismal 2014 Super League campaign and the fact that they currently hold the bragging rights over their close neighbour’s Hull KR having won the derby series 2-1 and finished above them in the table the end of term report once again looks back at a very frustrating campaign when the sleeping giant failed to awaken from its slumbers.

It all started rather well as a black and white army converged on the birthplace of the game Huddersfield as a new look FC side started their campaign in emphatic fashion by inflicting an embarrassing defeat on the Giants who most experts expected to be genuine Grand Final contenders, nil-ling them in the process.

The next game saw a single point defeat to Warrington Wolves in Hull’s first home game of the season, despite that setback everything still looked very positive as Lee Radford’s men looked very competitive and able to handle the inevitable extra pressure that came with such a landmark season doubled with the start of a new experiment for the First Utility Super League with the tag line of “Every minute matters”.

The first alarm bells started to ring with a shock defeat at big spending Salford when the Red Devils found it far too easy to score points against a side who had only conceded one try in their opening two games, which was scored by the reigning Steve Prescott Man of Steel Daryl Clark.

Hull’s next game, at home against eventual treble winners Leeds Rhinos, almost encapsulated the Black and White’s season in 80 minutes, holding a deserved 12-0 lead at half time Hull were applauded off the pitch and seemingly back in the groove as they produced some of the best rugby they had played up to that point in the still fledgling season, what followed was frankly quite embarrassing as the Rhinos cut loose and scored 43 unanswered points too easily in the second 40 minutes.

Playing away to eventual Grand Finalists Wigan Warriors in their next game the Airlie Birds showed some genuine dogged determination, guts and pride but fell just short by a single point for the second time in the campaign, although a better more controlled pass in the last minute would surely have seen them gain the reward their efforts deserved as 2014 player of the year Fetuli Talanoa would surely have scored a match-winning try if the ball hadn’t flown into touch.

After that near miss at the DW Stadium Hull finally gave their fans something to shout about as Catalans Dragons were brushed aside far easier than the 11 point winning margin would seemingly suggest. Hull were then unlucky in defeat away to Castleford Tigers and then came the lowest point of the season without doubt as Hull KR breezed into the KC Stadium and left with the two points and bragging rights on offer far too easily as the Airlie Birds produced probably their worst performance of the season and almost gift-wrapped the game for Chris Chester’s side.

After that contemptuous low the Old Faithful still traveled in large numbers to the home of reigning champions St. Helens in the first game of the now annual Steve Prescott Memorial Trophy and a stunning comeback that few would have thought possible at the start of the Easter Weekend was capped by one of the tries of the season from full-back Jamie Shaul as Hull banished the memories of the previous Thursday night with a stirring 20-28 victory at Langtree Park.

Next up for the Airlie Birds was a home game against Widnes Vikings, on that evening Tom Lineham proved once again what a potent finisher he is with a hat-trick including two 95 meter interception tries, after that the Airlie Birds hit the road to Wembley dispensing of Sheffield Eagles at Bramall Lane in comfortable, if not entirely convincing, fashion before returning to Super League matters with a truly dismal performance against Huddersfield Giants in which Hull only just avoided the ignominy that they inflicted on the Giants on the opening weekend with a very late try by Steve Michaels.

The following week was quite a comedy with next opponents Salford Red Devils asking the Airlie Birds to postpone the game due to the injury and suspension crisis they were going through which Hull, understandably, flatly refused so the game went ahead as scheduled, despite their pleas and protestations the team built expensively by Dr Marwan Koukash arrived much healthier than first envisaged, sporting seven internationals, a spirited performance almost saw them through, but once again a gutsy comeback which was crowned by an individual barnstorming try by Setaimata Sa saw Hull eek out a victory that would have been predicted.

Lee Radford then told his side to take off the shackles and start to attack with more purpose, this appeared to be going slightly wrong for Hull in the next game away to Warrington Wolves but, yet again, Hull showed a spirit that proved they never knew when they were beaten as they came from 10 points behind in the last 10 minutes to grab a priceless victory with a drop goal from Marc Sneyd with just three seconds remaining on the clock to send the Old Faithful into very noisy raptures and gain sweet revenge for their single point defeat earlier in the year.

Castleford Tigers were the visitors to the KC Stadium in the 6th round of the Ladbrokes Challenge Cup and a hat-trick from new young signing Curtis Naughton saw the previous years beaten finalists put to the sword in sizzling fashion as more evidence of Hull taking off the shackles was put on full display.

However the positive mood that was sweeping the team and supporters was soon dampened down as Saints came to town and won an arm wrestle game although not by enough to rob Hull of the Steve Prescott Memorial Trophy.

Magic Weekend, however, delivered another high note as close neighbours Hull KR, holding smug bragging rights since the Easter derby, were taught a very harsh lesson as they were thoroughly whipped by an arrogant Hull in record fashion as they ran up a record 46 points in a competitive derby topping the 44 points they had hit Rovers with in 2008, at this point I suppose for the benefit of certain friends that Rovers do still hold the record for the biggest winning margin by 36 points in 2007.

The following week saw Hull travel to Widnes for what was seen as a defining match as both sides were competing for the coveted Super 8s spot with just 1 league point separating them, with the Vikings storming into a 12 point lead it was fast starting to look like a forlorn journey for Hull, however another Tom Lineham hat-trick allied with a try from Leon Pryce and a delicious kick and gather try by Marc Sneyd swept Hull home to a convincing victory.

Unfortunately after that success Hull’s season began to almost implode with defeats away to Catalans Dragons and Leeds before being unceremoniously dumped out of the cup by the Rhinos at the KC Stadium and then an embarrassing defeat at basement side Wakefield Trinity Wildcats, in this topsy turvy season however the Black and White’s rallied once again and, in their second double header, they gained revenge over the Wildcats, by now being coached by former Hull coach Brian Smith, with a victory which maybe wasn’t really deserved but, after a three game losing streak, it was a priceless victory which breathed much needed new life into a faltering season.

The top 8 cause was then further aided with another gutsy comeback victory at the KC Stadium against Castleford Tigers as the Tigers were given little choice by the intensity of Hull’s performance but to surrender an eight point half time advantage.

The game that mattered most though was taking place in front of the Sky cameras the following Friday at the KC Lightstream Stadium as the biggest rivalry in Super League was pushed to the forefront with the promise of victory holding the key to the door of the much vaunted Super 8s and defeat promised the ignominy of a place in the dreaded Middle 8s and the knowledge that it was your closest rivals who would have put you there.

Everything seemed to be going wrong in the derby match, losing their two most influential players Leon Pryce and captain Gareth Ellis to injury in the heat of the battle in the first half, trailing 12-4 when they lost Ellis to a snapped Achilles Hull looked in desperate trouble on a ground where only Leeds and Castleford had previously triumphed this season, but that fast growing resolve was soon on show again as Hull out-fought and out-thought their nearest and dearest enemies to take charge with another stirring comeback which saw them take the lead by half time and then produce a masterclass in how to control an opponent and a game at arms length to wrap up the points, the bragging rights and the place in the Super 8s in one evenings work which led to jubilant celebrations among the Old Faithful.

With so much attention and emphasis having been placed on the derby match it was probably not a surprise that the first phase of the season for Hull ended with a whimper as Wigan Warriors arrived at the KC Stadium and inflicted a heavy defeat on the home side.

The Super 8s was something of an anti-climax for the Airlie Birds due to the fact that they were playing teams who were in some cases superior sides who were always expected to be pushing for the semi-finals and a trip to Old Trafford and the Grand Final, having started brightly away to Castleford with two early tries the old frailties once again took over and Hull slipped to an unfortunate defeat but nobody could really say the Tigers didn’t deserve their victory.

The following week Hull again traveled to the home of the defending champions and, as on Easter Monday, Saints were ambushed by yet another comeback, including another hat-trick by Curtis Naughton, and soundly beaten 22-32.

The epitaph on this season will show that Hull lost all of their last 5 games, however it must be said that is far from the end story under the circumstances. With a growing injury list which included Gareth Ellis, Leon Pryce, Josh Bowden, Chris Green, Steve Michaels, Jordan Thompson, Setaimata Sa, Joe Westerman, Kirk Yeaman, Fetuli Talanoa and Dean Hadley for at least some, if not all, their Super 8s games Hull could possibly have been excused for asking to delay some games due to their unprecedented injury crisis, however no such Salford-like request was forthcoming, or even entertained, by the Black and White’s as they put their trust in youth.

A week before their Wembley date against Hull KR, Leeds rolled into town and rested some stars although not many as they still had Challenge Cup Final places up for grabs, Hull had some senior stars playing, such as new joint-players of the year Mark Minichiello and Liam Watts, but there was also more than just a smattering of under 19s players present in the match-day squad and, indeed, the 17 man match team, the Rhinos inevitably won but, according to Rhinos coach Brian McDermott afterwards, only because they got a few opportunities that only men like Ryan Hall and Rob Burrow could finish despite their inability in certain quarters to breakdown an enthusiastic Hull side.

Unfortunately the down side to using lots of youth is sometimes it breeds inconsistency and so it proved as Warrington Wolves were handed the points on a plate at the Halliwell Jones Stadium two weeks later, more injuries ensued in that game and Hull were only able to name 18 men instead of the regulation 19 in advance of the trip to Wigan for their one and only appearance in front of the Sky cameras in the Super 8s the following Friday.

In a match that was seen as a chance for the battle-hardened Warriors, who were just coming into top form, to put a severe dent in Leeds Rhinos points difference advantage at the summit of the table, Hull had to name seven youth players and were given no chance and were indeed tipped to succumb to a worse beating than 60-0 thrashing the Warriors had inflicted on a similarly severely under-strength Hull KR earlier in the season but somebody forgot to give the script to the kindergarten Hull side.

Although the Warriors squeezed out a thoroughly and totally undeserved 30-24 win a Hull team containing Curtis Naughton, Jordan Abdull, Jack Logan, Masimbaashe Matongo, Jansin Turgut, Brad Fash and Jack Downs left a more than lasting impression on the crowd in the DW Stadium and, no doubt, had fans of other teams sat at home glued to their television sets and cheering them on as they gave Shaun Wane’s side the fright of their lives.

Hull then returned home for their heritage week games against Huddersfield Giants and Catalans Dragons, with youthful enthusiasm on their side, but also a great deal of in-experience, the Airlie Birds fall to two more narrow defeats that could surely have been avoided with a bit more know-how.

The 14 point margin of victory for the Giants looks much more comfortable than it was, a point made very succinctly by coach Paul Anderson, the four point victory for the Dragons didn’t flatter them but could again have been avoided by Hull if only tries had been scored further infield rather than right in the corner every time.

Reaching the Super 8s was set as a minimum requirement by owner Adam Pearson at the start of the season and that was duly achieved. There was also some major highlights in the season for instance the two victories over Hull KR, the manner of them and what both meant to the supporters cannot be overestimated and the emergence of some genuinely exciting youth is a major plus.

The down-side, it was yet another false dawn in a lot of ways, certain players have clearly just been taking money from the club and not giving much in return and, in my humble opinion, Tom Lineham should never have been sold but that’s now water under the bridge and we’ll have to get used to the sight of him in primrose and blue.

The up-side, Hull FC do have a lot of very exciting youth that they need to keep hold of in future, the likes of Jack Logan, Callum Lancaster, Jordan Abdull, Jansin Turgut, Brad Fash, Jack Downs, Masimbaashe Matongo and Curtis Naughton are all seemingly very exciting players and that’s before we think about the likes of Reece Dean and Harry Tyson-Wilson.

Future. It’s no secret Hull do have some financial problems mainly due to having to pay off dead wood with some big money plus the big payout to Willie Manu but with great support, season pass membership sales, merchandising etc I’m sure they can get over the worst of it.

New Signings. Frank Pritchard, Sika Manu, Scott Taylor, Danny Washbrook, Carlos Tuimavave and Mahe Fonua are genuinely very impressive additions especially the forwards who will be added to an already mean pack that is bristling with quality.

Controversy. There is clearly absolutely no need for a ‘Super Academy’ merger with Hull KR.

Positive. The creation of an under 23s side with Richard Horne as its boss will give certain players more chance to develop and will hopefullt dispense with the ridiculous dual-registration idea.

Derby Match Jamie Shaul Jack Logan

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

Sika_Manu-1200 Danny Washbrook Mahe+Fonua+NRL+Rd+23+Storm+v+Titans+lzIeGJEH0zXl Carlostuimavave 1200-Frank-Pritchard Scott Taylor

Hull FC 31 Wakefield Trinity Wildcats 24, Airlie Birds Gain Measure Of Revenge For Midweek Defeat With Scratchy Performance

Hull v Wakefield pictureHull FC moved back into the top 8 of Super League with a thoroughly unconvincing, but priceless win.

Coach Lee Radford brought winger Tom Lineham back in to replace Curtis Naughton on the right wing and teenager Jack Logan replaced the injured Kirk Yeaman as the black and white’s went in search of revenge over Wakefield Trinity Wildcats for the defeat at the Rapid Solicitor’s stadium on Wednesday.

Feka Palea’aesina also returned to the squad in place of Dean Hadley for the Super League Round 19 game while Leon Pryce and Marc Sneyd brought their combination back together at the expense of Jamie Shaul and Jordan Abdull with Jordan Rankin returning to his favoured full-back position.

The Wildcats got the first attacking opportunity when skipper Gareth Ellis dropped the ball in Hull’s first set giving the visitor’s a scrum 15 meters from the line and they duly took full advantage with the opening try inside two minutes from Matty Ashurst, former FC half back Jacob Miller then added the extras to give them a 0-6 lead.

The pouring rain then seemingly caused another mistake as Wakefield knocked-on from the kick off giving Hull a scrum close to their line and they struck straight back in the 5th minute as Joe Westerman touched down a grubber kick by Sneyd under the posts, Sneyd then obliged to bring the scores level.

The visitors then forced another mistake from Hull and got a scrum 30 meters from the Hull line but the chance was wasted as a forward pass on the 20 meter line gave the Airlie Birds a chance to regain possession from another scrum and clear their lines.

Hull forced another chance as Logan made a break in mid-field and then passed to Ellis but the captain was held up over the line, eventually another chance forced a goal line drop out.

Hull attacked again from the drop out but  a chance went begging as the ball was dropped 10 meters from the Wakefield line despite the rain having stopped by this point.

Another bomb from Sneyd then forced another chance as the Wildcats knocked on again 10 meters from their line but the opportunity was blown with a forward pass on the first tackle giving them easy possession back.

An attack from Hull then saw possession surrendered embarrassingly easily and former Airlie Bird Jordan Tansey kicked ahead twice and eventually dropped on the ball beside the posts to give the Wildcats the lead again in the 22nd minute, the goal from Miller made it a six point difference again.

To their credit Hull came back straight away again as an inside pass from Steve Michaels put Logan over in the 25th minute wide on the left hand side however Sneyd missed the conversion to leave them trailing by two points.

Hull then invited Wakefield to attack when giving away a soft penalty for offside which Miller put into touch 20 meters from the home sides line and then, after being awarded another penalty, the visitors opted to go for the kick at goal and Miller obliged to stretch the lead to four points in the 30th minute.

Hull were then given a similar opportunity from a penalty for offside which Sneyd planted into touch 20 meters from the visitors line and after four tackles a fast cross-field move put Michaels in at the corner in the 34th minute to bring them level again, the touchline conversion from Sneyd hit the post and bounced out.

A knock on at the play-the-ball from the Wildcats afforded the black and white’s another chance with a scrum 30 meters out and the resulting attack saw Setaimata Sa held up over the line and then a grubber kick from Sneyd caused a mistake by the visitors which gave them a goal line drop out but a lack of creativity meant Hull were unable to break down the defence again. However Hull were given a penalty as the half time hooter sounded 30 meters out and Sneyd gave the home side a two point lead going into the break.

The Wildcats kept Hull waiting before coming back out for the second half to a chorus of boo’s from the Old Faithful.

Hull had the first meaningful attack of the half but a challenge for a high kick led to a knock on which gave the visitor’s chance to clear again.

The next attack however in the 45th minute led to a try as the Wildcats defence made a hash of clearing another Sneyd grubber and teenager Logan pounced for his 2nd try of the afternoon, the conversion by Sneyd stretched the home sides advantage to eight points.

Another attack by Hull promised much again but then after being awarded a penalty Liam Watts dropped the ball on the first tackle 10 meters out.

The Wildcats then struck back through another former Hull player after Rankin made a hash of clearing a grubber kick and Reece Lyne took advantage to bring his side back into it in the 49th minute, the conversion from Miller reduced the deficit again to two points.

In the bright sunshine both sides were attempting to be more expansive and an impressive side-stepping run from NRL bound prop Mickey Paea produced a magic moment as the ball was moved swiftly to Rankin for the full-back to make up for his previous mistake and score in the corner to make it 26-20 in the 55th minute, Sneyd again missed the touchline conversion.

However Hull again invited the Wildcats down to the other end and Tom Johnstone scored an easy try in the right corner as Hull’s defence ran out of men in the 58th minute, the touchline conversion from Miller was wayward to leave Hull leading by two points.

The game continued in its topsy-turvy fashion and Hull were presented with another opportunity after they forced a scrum 30 meters from the visitors line but the opportunity was lost because of a lack of direction and then Johnstone cleared as he took Sneyd’s kick almost out of Michaels hands.

After another attack by the visitor’s Hull suddenly swept down-field as fast as a Powerboat on the Humber Estuary as Rankin raced through the middle and then passed just at the right moment to give Michaels the chance to finish spectacularly in the left corner in the 64th minute, another miss from the touchline by Sneyd left the score at 30-24.

The next visit to the opposition end of the field saw Hull force the third goal line drop out of the game and a quick set-up led to a drop goal from Sneyd in the 68th minute to leave the visitor’s needing to score twice.

Johnstone kept making an impressive impression on the game with his darting runs, natural pace and genuine confidence but on his next break he was squeezed out into touch by a fast moving home defence.

Once again Hull were looking telegraphed on the last tackle and although they showed some imagination at times this was being far from a vintage performance as their attacking frailties and lack of execution in vital areas, which had seemingly been banished just six weeks ago, now looks to be back with a vengeance in the last few weeks.

Radford said afterwards that Ellis was ruled out for 4-6 weeks on Thursday but had sent him a text saying not to rule him out and that he wanted to take a fitness test which then led to him being drafted back into the match day team having been left out of the original 19 man squad.

He also said that Mark Minichiello could possibly return from injury for the visit of Castleford Tigers to the KC Stadium next week, however Kirk Yeaman has been ruled out for 4-6 weeks.

Penalties: Hull FC 8 Wakefield 4

Goal Line Drop Outs: Hull FC 0 Wakefield 3

Man of the Match: Gareth Ellis

Attendance 9,558

Hull FC 6 Leeds Rhinos 24, Airlie Birds Dumped Out By Cup Holders With Dismal Display

Hull FC exited the Challenge Cup with an abysmal performance at home to holders Leeds Rhinos as their attacking frailties came back to haunt them in their biggest game of the season so far.

Coach Lee Radford brought Jordan Rankin back in at full-back in place of Jamie Shaul and Tom Lineham returned to the right wing in place of Curtis Naughton for his first appearance since announcing he will leave the KC Stadium at the end of the season for Warrington Wolves.

Kirk Yeaman also returned after injury and Setaimata Sa was replaced by Steve Michaels at centre at the 11th hour while Jordan Abdull started in place of the suspended Marc Sneyd.

The game started at a frenetic pace as both sides leapt out of the blocks in front of a passionate crowd and some thunderous tackles increased the tempo early on.

The first try arrived fortuitously for the Rhinos as Joel Moon picked Rankin’s pocket to scramble over in the 6th minute, the conversion from Kevin Sinfield gave the cup holders a 6-0 lead.

Hull’s first real period of pressure on the visitors line came courtesy of a dropped ball and a smart move and grubber kick led to full-back Zak Hardaker having to knock the ball dead for a goal line drop out but eventually the Rhinos were able to clear their lines.

At the other end a knock on by Yeaman gave the visitors another attacking chance but a nothing grubber kick wasted the opportunity.

The black and white’s were showing plenty of encouragement but once again chances were being wasted because of poor execution.

A penalty for offside 45 meters from the posts was converted by Sinfield in the 19th minute to stretch the lead to 8 points.

Another dropped ball by Leeds gave the home side another attacking scrum 30 meters from the Rhinos line but the opportunity was spurned when the normally ever reliable Mark Minichiello failed to take a pass in with the line open.

Another penalty gave Hull another chance to put pressure on the Leeds line but a ridiculous pass by Joe Westerman gave Danny Houghton no chance of taking the ball in front of the posts and another chance was gone.

The Rhinos forced a goal line drop out and another attack ensued which ended with a harsh penalty but Sinfield was unable to add the two points from the touchline and Hull swept down-field to create another opportunity which went begging as Lineham was held on the last tackle after a bomb by Leon Pryce.

The Rhinos were gifted another chance as Westerman dropped the ball in his own half two minutes before half time and then another penalty came their way from referee James Child for a ball-steal and this time Sinfield obliged from the touchline to take them into double figures heading into the break.

The rain that had been tipping down through the first half had stopped by the time the teams took to the pitch for the start of the second half which would hopefully allow for a more expansive game.

The first mistake of the half came from Jordan Thompson as the Hull man dropped the ball 20 meters from his own line to give the Rhinos the first attack of the halfand inevitably Kallum Watkins took full advantage to shrug off some weak tackling and stretch out to score in the 43rd minute, the conversion from Sinfield made it a 16 point advantage for the men from Headingley.

Another penalty for a ball-steal was gratefully accepted by Sinfield near the halfway line but this time his kick fell just short and struck the woodwork to give Hull some precious possession.

A rare penalty for the Airlie Birds was kicked into touch to give them another attacking opportunity but another dropped ball by Westerman gave Leeds another chance to breathe with a relieving scrum.

Leeds were not doing anything startling but they were doing the basics well and continually frustrating the hosts who’s attack seemed to have gone back to its disorganised ways that had caused so many failures earlier in the season.

Hull’s one outlet was the kicking game of 19 year old half-back Jordan Abdull which kept turning the opposition round.

Frantic defending near their own line by Leeds afforded Hull another opportunity as a pass from Houghton was knocked down to give them another 10 meter scrum and then another penalty saw another desperate charge for the line but captain Gareth Ellis was guilty this time of wasting another chance as he dropped the ball just short of the line.

Another chance with a clean break by Westerman was bombed as the loose forward dropped the ball after an ankle tap tackle with the line gaping.

Hull were being their own worst enemies as chance after chance was being squandered with poor decision making and an attack that was far too easy for the Rhinos to anticipate and snuff out.

To add insult to injury Leeds showed Hull how to structure an attack as Rob Burrow and Sinfield caused havoc in the defensive line and Zak Hardaker dived over in the 71st minute to put the game firmly out of the Airlie Birds reach, the conversion from Sinfield made it 0-22 to the visitors.

Sinfield accepted another penalty from near the halfway line and this time found his range to stretch the lead by another two points in the 73rd minute.

Finally with four minutes left to play Abdull got the try his performance deserved, the conversion by Rankin was scant consolation but at least Hull had been spared the ignominy of being held to nil at home.

Once again Hull had shown plenty of spirit for a struggle but a lack of cutting edge had cost them dearly as their Challenge Cup hopes faded for another year and they were left with just bitter regret yet again.

With games away and home against Wakefield in Super League Hull must pick themselves up and set about ensuring they will be in the Super 8s come the split but with a derby match away to Hull KR who have only lost twice at home all season and other games against the likes of Wigan Warriors and Castleford Tigers that may be no easy task on this evidence.

Penalties- Hull FC 6 Leeds 6

Goal Line Drop Outs- Hull FC 2 Leeds 2

Attendance: 9,261

Man of the Match: Jordan Abdull

20150626_200056

Catalan Dragons 20 Hull FC 14, Airlie Birds Left to Rue Mistakes As Vital Points Dropped

Hull FC slipped down to 8th in Super League with a heartbreaking defeat in Perpignan as Catalan Dragons continued their impressive home form which has seen them only lose once on their home ground.

Coach Lee Radford brought back Jordan Rankin at full-back in place of Jamie Shaul and derby hat-trick hero Fetuli Talanoa returned in place of Warrington-bound winger Tom Lineham and Setaimata Sa also returned from injury to face his former team at the Stade Gilbert Brutus after missing the win at Widnes Vikings.

The first chance came the way of the black and white’s with a scrum 10 meters from the Catalan line after Morgan Escare knocked on a high kick which then led to the young full-back being caught behind the line after a full set on the home sides line.

The goal line drop out led to another attack but the Airlie Birds were unable to make it count as a grubber kick from Marc Sneyd was eventually cleared up.

However the respite for the Dragons was only temporary as finally Joe Westerman made a break in the middle of the pitch and Rankin came up in support to go over under the posts in the 11th minute, the conversion from Sneyd gave the visitors a 6 point lead.

It took until the 16th minute for Catalan to draw level when captain Remi Casty made a break in midfield and then put the supporting Thomas Bosc over under the posts, the conversion from Scott Dureau brought the home side level.

Another mistake by Catalan led to another Hull scrum 10 meters from the Dragons line but a structured set from the visitors was ineffective as the home side comfortably held them out.

As the game settled down the home side became slightly more frustrated than Hull and a petulant ball steal by Dureau in the 28th minute gave them a penalty which Sneyd added to take the score to 6-8 in the 29th minute.

In the 35th minute a telegraphed pass from Sneyd to Mark Minichiello gifted an intercept and simple dash to the line to score for Dragons centre Tony Gigot to put the home side in the lead for the first time, the conversion from Dureau stretched it to a 4 point advantage.

Back-to-back penalties then led to another attack and try for the home side by Greg Mounis under the posts in the 39th minute, the inevitable conversion from Dureau gave the Dragons a 10 point lead going into the half time break.

Hull only had themselves to blame for trailing at half time after they had plenty of territory but made mistakes which had led to scores for the home side after a solid opening 30 minutes.

A penalty given away by the Dragons early in the second half gave Hull some pressure on the Catalan line again but again the attack was well quelled by an organised defence until a grubber kick by Sneyd went over the dead ball line.

The Dragons then got a penalty for a stolen ball and attacked with purpose but a stray pass cost them another try and gave the visitors a relieving scrum.

Another purposeful attack from the Dragons saw Dureau put a grubber kick over the Hull try line with Elliott Whitehead hunting the try but Steve Michaels managed to knock the ball dead for a goal line drop out then a mistake by Catalan in the ensuing attack gave Hull some relief.

However another mistake by the visitors led to another attack until another mistake from the home side gave Hull possession back.

The play then moved back to the Catalan end as Hull appeared to start to get into their stride and then Gigot knocked on 30 meters from his own line to give Hull another attacking scrum and Mark Minichiello brought his side back into the contest in the 52nd minute as he bashed his way over despite the attentions of three Dragons defenders, the simple conversion for Sneyd brought the score to 18-14.

Another fluid attack from the Dragons led to a break by Escare who chipped over the head of Talanoa but Sa was on hand to take the kick behind the try line for a goal line drop out again which led to another attack until a forward pass gave Hull another relieving scrum.

Hull then moved quickly down-field and the two former Dragons players combined as Leon Pryce chipped over the defensive line but Sa lost the ball over the line under pressure.

A silly penalty given away by Hull then led to more pressure on their line but another poor pass led to a knock on by Man of Steel contender Zeb Taia to give them another scrum to clear their lines.

Another fast move down-field by Hull then saw Pryce kick towards the Dragons line so Escare knocked the ball into touch to give Hull another scrum close to the home sides try line which then led to another knock on by Gigot to give Hull another scrum with little over 10 minutes remaining.

A fast cross-field move by Hull then led to a try by Fetuli Talanoa but the video referee denied him controversially for obstruction which appeared to be caused by the Catalan player Ben Pomeroy.

Shortly after that a break through the middle of the field by Minichiello then saw another mistake by the black and white’s deep in Catalan territory to let the home side off again.

A penalty for a ball steal on Ian Henderson then gave the home side a penalty which Dureau duly converted to give them a six point advantage.

A short kick off then led to another attack from Hull after the ball was batted back into their possession but a pass over the top for Talanoa ended up going into touch with five minutes left to play.

Finally Catalan saw the match out as Hull were left to rue too many mistakes at crucial times and some controversial calls by referee Ben Thaler and the video referee.

Hull will wonder what might have been if they hadn’t coughed up so much possession and given the home side so many penalties and territory but there are clearly issues that need to be addressed before a trip to Headingley next week for the fist of a league and cup double-header against Challenge Cup holders Leeds Rhinos.

Questions will also inevitably be asked about referee Ben Thaler’s performance although it would be unfair to blame the defeat entirely on him after he made some bad calls against both sides.

Penalties: Catalan Dragons 10 Hull FC 7

Goal Line Drop Outs: Catalan Dragons 1 Hull FC 2

Man of the Match: Mark Minichiello

Widnes Vikings 12 Hull FC 25, Lineham Hat-Trick Sees Off Vikings Again As Airlie Birds Move Into Top 8.

Hull FC took their destiny into their own hands with a stunning comeback to complete a league double over Widnes Vikings as they claimed an eighth victory in 10 games in all competitions and move 7th in the Super League table.

Down 12-0 inside 11 minutes Hull looked dis-organised until Marc Sneyd stamped his class on the match and took control of proceedings and prolific winger Tom Lineham ran in his second hat-trick against this opposition this year.

The Vikings started the game without former Hull player Cameron Phelps after the Australian was injured in their victory over Salford Red Devils at Magic Weekend in Newcastle which forced coach Denis Betts to bring Matt Whitley in at centre.

Coach Lee Radford recalled Jamie Shaul to the Hull FC side to rest Jordan Rankin and Setaimata Sa and derby hat-trick hero Fetuli Talanoa were out injured so Richard Whiting and Steve Michaels were brought in as replacements for the visit to the Select Security stadium

The match was billed as a Super 8s Play Off with the Vikings just one point ahead of Hull as the sides sat 8th and 9th respectively at the start of the evening.

The first penalty of the match saw the home side put the first pressure on the Hull line but Shaul cleared up the threat of a chip over the line before Hull were awarded a relieving penalty.

The opening score of the match came to Vikings winger Jack Owens after Kirk Yeaman gave away a penalty with a high tackle the ball was moved quickly right by the home side and Owens squeezed in at the corner despite the attention of Shaul, the winger then added the touchline conversion to give them a 6-0 lead in the 8th minute.

Three minutes later a break down their left by full-back Rhys Hanbury put centre Matt Whitley in under the posts and Owens added the extras to give the home side a 12 point lead after 11 minutes.

After another attack from the home side Hull suddenly burst into life and a break down the right by captain Gareth Ellis and short pass put Tom Lineham in at the corner for his 13th try of the season and his fourth against Widnes after his hat-trick against them at the KC Stadium, unfortunately Marc Sneyd slipped slightly as he took the kick at goal and missed to leave the score 12-4 to the home side after 16 minutes.

Just as Hull thought they were going to make a break with a pass from Leon Pryce to Shaul referee Phil Bentham made a shocking call saying the legal pass was forward and then awarded the home side a penalty in the Hull half for dissent but scrambling defence from the visitors kept the Vikings at bay as they looked to press home the advantage they had been handed.

As the first half wore on the home side seemed to have more appetite for the battle as Hull looked laboured and unable to break through the home defence but despite their continued dominance in the possession and territory stakes the Vikings lead was still only eight points after half an hour.

After a penalty was given to the men from East Yorkshire they got their first chance at some sustained pressure on the Vikings line and Pryce duly brought them further back into the game with their second try, however Sneyd had forgotten his kicking boots and missed again to leave the score 12-8.

The fightback continued after a high tackle by Vikings captain Kevin Brown on Richard Whiting gave Hull another attacking set on the Widnes line and a deft chip by Sneyd saw Lineham claim his second try of the game in the corner with seconds to go to half time, Sneyd then found the mark with his touchline conversion to send his team in at the break with an unlikely 12-14 lead.

The second half started with Hull showing more grunt and trying to establish control and they were soon on the attack but Mickey Paea knocked on 15 meters from the Widnes try line.

The Vikings then went down-field and a kick from former FC player Aaron Heremaia forced a second goal-line-drop-out but their resulting attack ended with a tackle by Steve Michaels taking the Widnes attacker into touch.

After 51 minutes a piece of individual brilliance from Sneyd created a try that was worth the entrance money alone as he placed a delicate little grubber kick through the defensive line and followed-up to score under the posts and stretch the visitors advantage and the inevitable conversion from the try-scorer made it 12-20.

Six minutes later Lineham made it home and away hat-tricks against the Vikings as a break from Shaul cut the home side apart again and then his deft pass put the winger in at the corner to the delight of the travelling supporters, unfortunately Sneyd was unable to add the extras so the lead stayed at 12 points for the visitors.

The next attack from Hull saw them set up for the drop-goal and Sneyd again duly obliged to give them a three score lead with 18 minutes left to play.

The home side were showing plenty of endeavour but the goal line defence from Hull was too tight and smart to stop them breaching the line.

Whenever the home side seemed to have an opportunity Hull’s resolute defence was there from all angles covering for any chink in the impressive armour as the game ambled towards its inevitable conclusion.

With seven seconds remaining on the clock Patrick Ah Van thought he had given the home fans something to cheer as he dived in at the corner but he was denied by the video referee as he had put a foot in touch.

Hull coach Lee Radford praised the impressive defence from his side afterwards saying the victory had come because they were all willing to work for each other.

Penalties: Widnes 6 Hull FC 4

Goal Line Drop Outs: Widnes 1 Hull FC 2

Attendance: 5,573

Man of the Match: Marc Sneyd

Warrington Wolves 26 Hull FC 27, Airlie Birds Move Into Top 8 With Stunning Comeback Win

Marc Sneyd lived up to his £100,000 transfer fee as Hull FC gatecrashed top 4 side Warrington Wolves with a comeback few would have believed possible to move into the coveted top 8 in Super League.

Beaten by a drop goal when the Wolves visited the KC Stadium in February this time it was Hull’s turn to exact full revenge for that 6-7 defeat in dramatic style.

Hull actually started the brighter of the two sides and took a deserved lead after 12 minutes as Jordan Thompson checked his run close to the Wolves line and forced his way over next to the posts, Sneyd added the goal to give the visitors a 6 point lead.

The lead though didn’t last long as Warrington went down the other end and their captain Joel Monaghan latched onto a cross-field kick by young stand off Declan Patton to score, the conversion from Stefan Ratchford brought the score level at 6 all.

The home side then hit the front as a flowing and fast move brought a try for Ben Currie, again Ratchford obliged with the conversion and inside 3 minutes they had gone from 6 points behind to lead 12-6.

However, just as it looked like Tony Smith’s side were getting on top, Hull again wrestled back the initiative from their hosts and, after they moved the ball left then right, Setaimata Sa crashed over in the right corner, Sneyd missed the touchline conversion but Hull were back within two points.

The game was being played at a furious pace and no quarter was being asked or given as some thundering tackles had fans of both sides almost wincing.

With 30 minutes gone Hull again hit the front as more pressure on the Wolves line led to a deft little step by Sneyd and the Hull scrum half shot through the gap it created to score under the posts, he added the goal to his try and gave Hull a deserved 12-16 lead which they held until half time.

Hull had looked more aggressive and adventurous with their attack in the first half and the question was could they keep it up in the second 40 minutes.

The second half started, as the first had ended, at a frantic pace as both sides traded mistakes, possession and territory to each other.

Monaghan pounced on one such mistake by Hull as they failed to deal with basic kick to the corner, the Wolves captain got the ball down just inside the touch-in-goal line to bring his team level, the missed conversion left the score at 16-16.

Again Hull were guilty of laxity in defence a few minutes later and Gene Ormsby accepted the invitation into the opposite corner to put the home side 20-16 ahead, again Ratchford missed the kick at goal but, with less than quarter of an hour of the second half gone the Wolves had seemingly turned the match on its head.

Hull were becoming dis-organised and the home side were taking full advantage as their famous attack was in full swing, another flowing move again pulled the visitor’s defence apart and, again, Ormsby found it too easy to cross in the left corner, a touchline conversion from Chris Bridge gave Warrington a 26-16 lead.

On previous occasions, like last year and even in some earlier games this year, Hull would have caved in and let their hosts run rampant, but in recent weeks the Airlie Birds have shown great resolve to win games and that resolve was on full display again.

The first chink of light was provided once again, like last week against Salford, by Mark Minichiello as he forced his way over in the 74th minute, the goal by Sneyd brought the score back to 26-22 and gave Hull genuine hope.

Three minutes later and Sneyd raced through a gaping hole in the home sides defence inside his own half, having made the break he then passed to Tom Lineham and Hull’s top try scorer raced 40 meters, brushing off Ormsby, to crash over in the corner, the touchline conversion attempt from Sneyd missed and left the score at 26-26.

Then, in the final act of this pulsating match after a stoppage for injury, Hull set up the final play 15 meters from the Wolves line, a quick exchange of passes and Sneyd hit a priceless drop goal with just 3 seconds left on the clock to win the game and send the Old Faithful into raptures.

With their previously static attack now firing on all cylinders, and 5 wins in their last 6 games, Lee Radford’s side will now move on to their Challenge Cup 6th round tie at home to last year’s beaten finalists Castleford Tigers, next Saturday with fresh confidence and, perhaps most importantly, a winning mentality.

Man of the Match: Marc Sneyd

Hull FC 24 Salford Red Devils 20. Airlie Birds Claim Fourth Win in Five Games

Despite all the talk in the build up and a request from the visitors to postpone the game due to an unprecedented injury crisis it was the home side who started under strength with Jamie Shaul pulled out on the day of the game and naming two teenagers in Jordan Abdull and Bobby Tyson-Wilson in their 17. Jordan Rankin was recalled in place of Shaul.

Salford had the first attacking opportunity after being given a penalty in the Hull half for obstruction and Kevin Locke duly obliged with the first try in the 4th minute after claiming a cross-field kick to score, Theo Fages added the conversion to give the Red Devils a 0-6 lead.

Another penalty to Salford for offside led to another attack and then given a 3rd penalty in the opening eight minutes Fages obliged to give the visitors a 0-8 lead.

It took until the 19th minute for Hull to get their first penalty which soon led to a 2nd penalty and some pressure on the Salford line which ultimately proved fruitless for the home side.

Hull’s attack was again looking almost non existent in the first half with chances being frittered away because of a lack of structure and cutting edge.

Hull finally opened up the visitors defence with a chip over the top by Marc Sneyd and Tom Lineham dived in at the corner but the try was very harshly ruled out by the touch judge who said he managed to get a foot in touch despite being off the ground, however the winger made up for it a minute later when he raced in at the corner on 31 minutes before being sin binned for talking back to the officials as he celebrated the try, a goal by Sneyd brought the hosts back to within two points.

As the first half wore on Salford’s intensity seemed to be waning and the Airlie Birds increased theirs but it was the visitors who went into the break with a two point lead.

A harsh penalty to Salford set up the first attack for the visitors 3 minutes into the 2nd half and led to a soft try for James Greenwood, the conversion from Fages saw the visitors leading 6-14.

Back to back penalties for Hull then led to pressure on the visitors line and Fetuli Talanoa crashed over in the 51st minute, the resultant conversion from Sneyd again brought the black and white’s back within two points.

After 58 minutes the Red Devils were in again as a grubber kick by Fages was followed up and touched down by Oliver Gildart the conversion by Fages stretched their lead to 12-20.

Hull’s attack seemed to be carrying on in the same vein in the 2nd half with a genuine lack of aggression and snap and as a result the Red Devils were being afforded time and space with ball in hand.

After 64 minutes however a rare structured attack from Hull led to a try from Mark Minichiello the conversion from Sneyd brought the score back to 18-20.

With 9 minutes to go Jordan Rankin was held up over the line but the disappointment only lasted a few seconds as Setaimata Sa bashed his way through the Salford defensive line to score under the posts and give the home side the lead for the first time in the game, the goal from Sneyd stretched the score to 24-20.

Despite a frantic last 5 or 6 minutes Hull held on for their fourth win in five games to slightly ease the pressure on coach Lee Radford and put themselves back within striking distance of the much coveted top 8 in Super League.

A collective sigh of relief was almost tangible in the KC Stadium at the end of what was not a great game but one in which Hull at least did what they needed to and proved they can see a game out.

Attendance 9,385

Man of the Match Jordan Rankin

Penalties Hull FC 13 Salford Red Devils 7

Goal Line Drop Out Hull FC 1 Salford Red Devils 3