The last few weeks have been massive for Hull FC. In early July it looked like their season could be falling apart as they lost three games in a row to start the month. In fairness all three games were on the road against top five opposition but it was still worrying for Lee Radford.
Hull had to turn their form round and quickly. They scraped past Huddersfield at the KCOM and that got them back on the wagon. The wagon was rolling at full steam the week after when they put in the best performance I have ever seen to hammer Leeds 43-24 in the Challenge Cup Semi Final. I have been watching Hull FC religiously for 15 years and I have never seen a better performance from my beloved Black and Whites.
With Wembley firmly on the horizon Hull have kicked off the Super 8’s in decent fashion as they have beaten Salford and St Helens. The win at Saints was impressive considering they had to deal with several late injuries and other problems which left the side without Talanoa, Shaul, Fonua, Bowden and Minichiello. To make matters worse the conditions were horrendous but Hull battled extremely well led by Gareth Ellis and ground out a gritty 8-6 win.
That result and the semi-final performance indicate that Hull are hitting form, depsite what happened last week, and more importantly that they are learning from last year’s mistakes. Hull were the best team in Super League last season in my opinion but their lack of experience on the big stage ultimately cost them. They over celebrated the Wembley win and faded badly after that ultimately resulting in a possible treble winning season ending in disappointment at the hands of Warrington and Wigan.
Although the Cup Final is yet to be played this season there is already one key difference between 2017 and 2016, Hull are turning up consistently in big games. Lee Radford’s side lost at St Helens in July but they found a way to win a fortnight ago with the pressure well and truly on.
They were phenomenal against Leeds in the Semi Final and have defended their Challenge Cup in imperious style so far as they were almost as good in the previous round as they defeated Castleford having already annihilated Catalans 62-0. I believe Hull will win the cup final against Wigan and if they do it could be the second part of a trophy dynasty for Lee Radford. He is quickly becoming a top coach who could head to the NRL one day he is that good. Hull haven’t been perfect this season, far from it but they are winning the games that really matter which is what Leeds, Wigan and St Helens have been doing for the last 20 years.
His side are learning what it takes to win the big games. They have beaten Castleford twice this season and should have won the third game as well. If the two sides were to meet in the Grand Final I know who I would be backing to win.
Castleford are the obvious answer, just ask Eddie and his chums on Sky Sports who have basically given the title to Castleford since week one. Yes Cas have been fantastic this season but they have lost the games that matter. Hull out played them in the cup quarter final and they couldn’t cope with a Saints side who were at their best and who are peaking at the right time.
Daryl Powell is already playing down the Grand Final in favour of the League Leaders Shield. To me that smacks of a man who fears his side would see the bright lights of Old Trafford and bottle it. I might be wrong but his comments seemed strange. I may end up looking like an idiot at the end of the season but I can see a double coming Hull’s way and if that were to happen it could spark a trophy dynasty for years to come.