Since it’s inception in 1996 fans have cried out for Super League to be competitive and unpredictable. For the first 20 years those were two adjectives you could rarely use to describe the summer era competition. This season though it finally seems that the fans have got exactly what they wanted as each round is throwing up unpredictable and surprising results. Castleford have emerged as strong contenders this season as they have ripped several teams apart this season especially at the Jungle. Last year’s Grand Finalist’s Warrington have gone backwards while Wakefield and Salford appear to have vastly improved. Let’s not forget Salford were 2 minutes away from playing Championship rugby this season and now they sit third after 12 games.
In recent weeks St Helens were beaten by the previously hapless Widnes Vikings while Huddersfield picked themselves up from a humiliating defeat to Swinton and put in a brilliant performance to beat the in form Leeds Rhinos at Headingley. It’s shaping up to be the most exciting Super League season yet as we have reached the half way stage of the initial 23 rounds.
Hull FC have also experienced the unpredictability of the league this season already. After a steady if not spectacular start to the season Lee Radford’s side took two 50 point drubbings at the KCOM Stadium which no one saw coming. Suddenly it looked like Hull had hit a massive rut that they would struggle to get out of. Thankfully they have picked themselves up of the floor and have responded well in the last three matches.
They did what they had to do at Leigh before putting in a gritty and determined performance against Castleford. Hull were on course to give Castleford a taste of their own medicine as they raced into a 18-0 lead but that all changed when Liam Watt’s was dismissed. Hull then had to dig deeper than they have done all season to stop the Harlem Globetrotters of Super League. They did just that to register their best win of the season.
The important win over Castleford was followed up with a great home performance against Warrington. Missing several key players Hull were excellent for long periods and blew the Wolves away in the second half. Albert Kelly registered his 10th and 11th tries of the season while Mahe Fonua was simply unstoppable in the game. It was Hull’s most complete performance of the season and after Leeds lost to Huddersfield the Black and White’s find themselves nicely positioned in 2nd place just one point behind Castleford.
A hectic period awaits for Hull with a trip to Widnes, the start of their Challenge Cup defence, a trip to Newcastle for Magic Weekend and a double header weekend ahead of them in May. They are ideally placed going into this busy period despite playing nowhere near their best in most of their 12 games this season and having several key players still out injured. Lee Radford knows there is a long way to go this season and he will be keen for his side to manage their efforts this season better than last year as they faded badly after the Challenge Cup victory.
It’s a big ask but if Hull can come through May unscathed they will be in an even better position as they should have most of their troops back by then. It’s an unpredictable season so if a team can put a consistent run together they will have an excellent chance of making the top four and the Grand Final. Lee Radford will be hoping it’s his side who can time their run perfectly in the second half of the season.