Get that one deleted from your Sky + boxes! I’m not sure any Hull FC fan would want to relive a dreadful game like last night’s especially as their side came out on the wrong side of the score line. The hosts St Helens were worthy 19-12 winners at the Totally Wicked Stadium in a game that again highlighted Hull’s frailties in wet weather.
This was an important game for both sides with Hull looking to climb back to second while consolidating a top four place whereas St Helens needed a win to keep up the pressure on the top four in time for the Super 8’s. It was fairly obvious from the start that the hosts were up for the challenge as they came out swinging early on as the rain began to fall. They played with pace and aggression and almost carved Hull open four times in the opening 20 minutes. Only last-ditch efforts and handling errors saved Hull early on.
Against the run of play Hull took the lead just before the 25 minute mark. After absorbing a lot of Saints pressure, a theme that would continue throughout the game, they managed to break Saints open down the right hand side thanks to a storming run from Josh Griffin. He found Jamie Shaul on his inside and he dived over. Sneyd converted to give Hull a 6-0 lead.
Hull needed to consolidate now and play simple yet effective rugby, they didn’t. They continued to play their usual passing game including several risky offloads in their own half. Add the continuing heavy drizzle into that mix and it was never going to end well. Hull began to cough up possession as their completion rate plummeted.
Saints built pressure with repeat sets gifted to them by Hull at the end of the first half. Using all his knowledge and experience James Roby spotted and opportunity and scooted over from dummy half as Hull’s tired defenders couldn’t deal with him. The scores were level. More Saints pressure followed and they won a penalty under the sticks which Mark Percival converted to give Justin Holbrook’s side an 8-6 half time lead.
Lee Radford will not have been a happy man at half time and will have told his players to play smart rugby in the second half. The Hull players must have had their headphones in though because whatever he said it fell on deaf ears. Hull were even worse In the second half as they had been in the first and in truth it was a comedy of errors from both sides.
St Helens camped in Hull’s half for the first 25 minutes of the second half. Error after error from Hull kept gifting them possession but they were then met with heroic Hull defence. They made errors themselves and in truth if that had been Castleford with so much territory and possession Hull would have found themselves 40 points down easily.
Remarkably with 15 minutes to go Hull found themselves back in with a real chance of winning. After defending for their lives for so long it was commendable that they got up to the other end and found a way to score. A cross field bomb from Marc Sneyd wasn’t dealt with by Saints and Mahe Fonua pounced to score. 12-14.
Sneyd then kicked a 40/20 in the next set and suddenly Hull were on a roll. They forced another repeat set soon after and thought they had taken the lead when Fetuli Talanoa thought he had scored in the corner but it was ruled out by the Video Ref for a shove in the back of the Saints defender.
It would have been harsh on Saints to lose this game because without playing brilliantly themselves they had been smarter than Hull and had respected possession far better. In the last ten minutes Mark Percival crossed in the corner with a spectacular effort before Danny Richardson sealed a deserved win with a drop goal. Albert Kelly then pulled up when he made a late intercept to compound a dismal night and leave the Hull FC fans who battled the M62 to travel across the Pennines worried as well as angry.
Hull’s inconsistent side is back on show for all to see and their lack of game management and intelligence in wet weather is something that Lee Radford has to sort out and quick! They head to Leeds next week knowing they badly need a win at a ground they very rarely get one.
FT St Helens 19-12 Hull FC
Hull FC Man of the Match: Josh Bowden, One of only three or four players to come out with any credit Josh was head and shoulders Hull’s best player. He carried the ball forward with aggression and made some thunderous tackles. He continues to be one of Hull’s most consistent performers.