Well, at least the sun set was nice. That’s about as picturesque as it got for Hull FC, who were second best to St Helens on the night as the home side made it nine wins from ten to continue their reign at the top of the Super League table.
And despite another questionable sequence of decisions from a team of officials that you would struggle to trust with a potato gun, there can be no quarrels with the reasoning for defeat. That said, it doesn’t mean you can’t question some of the calls that occurred, especially when Hull FC’s first try was made off an assist that Tom Brady would have been proud of. Just the tad forward. How the touch judge missed it is the biggest question, but then again the average rugby league fan questions their purpose on a weekly basis and when situations like this occur you can really see why.
So why then even mention the officials? Well it’s not about getting calls your way or not. It’s about the game in general, which has some major issues caused preliminary by those with the whistle, and the individual who sits in a room somewhere echoing in the on-field officials’ ear. How anyone can be satisfied with random involvements of the video referee when he attends just two of the six weekly round fixtures is a mystery. It’s not a level playing field is it, and when you have players purposely staying down on the deck now in the knowledge that the video referee will be referred to makes for a story state of affairs. But then again general shithousery has been creeping into rugby league for a while now and the players themselves must take some responsibility for it. He isn’t the only example but Danny Richardson staying down after a soft contact from Jordan Abdull was pathetic and clearly a ploy to get the video referee to look at the incident.
Then you have the novelty of two throws where one was penalised and the other was not, with the legs of the latter, in this case Jake Connor, seeming to be much higher than the one that was penalised for. Dual standards or reputation influenced, given that the player in question is something of a pantomime villain for being a wind up merchant. Ultimately the fact is that the sport is not a great watch at present and that’s shown in both falling television and participation numbers. It’s probably why Sky Sports do the bare minimum with regards to the sports coverage. Who can blame them? There’s only us die-hard supporters who actually bother to persist with it, at least when the novelty of a Derby fixture or winning run comes to an end. We’ve got major issues and we need to accept that. You can’t enjoy a televised game anymore. You can either shove them issues under the carpet and pretend everything’s rosy or deal with them. Sadly, I am willing to bet which way the governing body side with.
Away from that, it’s fair to say St Helens are a very good rugby league team and they will definitely take some stopping this year. We’re ten rounds in, which Super 8s included is one-third of the way through the full season, and I’ve seen nothing to suggest the Saints won’t be heading to Old Trafford come October. They’re a class act and this latest win was done without their poster boy in Ben Barba. It’s amazing as an outsider to see the change in the brand of rugby they play under Justin Holbrook. It must be so refreshing to watch for any Saints fan who had to endure the horrendous tenure of Kieron Cunningham. They play some great stuff and deserve their current place at the top of the league.
For Hull it was a tough night, and that’s before the realisation that they lost both Fetuli Talanoa and Brad Fash to injury. It’s always a nightmare when you lose a back and Hull had to reshuffle when Talanoa went off. Fash, the nutter, apparently broke his jaw before returning to the field. Tough little sod. You can’t question Hull’s effort after a hectic and heroic Easter period but this was one game too far, even for the superb Carlos Tuimavave and Josh Griffin. Hull though didn’t help themselves either. They failed to put pressure on and didn’t ask enough questions, but saying that they came up against a strong defensive outfit. Sometimes it’s okay to say you were beaten by the better team on the night, and that’s what happened.
St Helens are well-drilled and were capable of dealing with whatever Hull threw at them. The away side lacked some punch on the edges and with Mark Minichiello and especially Sika Manu out, not to mention Dean Hadley, that was to be expected. Young Jordan Lane played the full eighty minutes, and Danny Washbrook gave it a go, but neither player could dent too many holes in the opposition. That’s not a detriment to the duo but more of a complement to the quality of what they were up against.
When the game actually flowed, and those moments were few and far between, St Helens looked silky. There’s a reason why they’re top and they showed enough examples of why that is. They scored four tries on the night, two from Zeb Taia and once each from Mark Percival and Luke Thompson, with Hull responding late through Albert Kelly and Chris Green.
It wasn’t catastrophic, but Hull will have to regroup now before two important games against Widnes and Leeds. Four points are arguably a necessity there, as we approach the mid-way point of the season.
St Helens Starting XIII: 1. Jonny Lomax, 2. Tommy Makinson, 3. Ryan Morgan, 4. Marc Percival, 19. Regan Grace, 6. Theo Fages, 18. Danny Richardson, 10. Kyle Amor, 9. James Roby, 16. Luke Thompson, 17. Dominic Peyroux, 11. Zeb Taia, 12. Jon Wilkin. Interchange: 7. Matty Smith, 13. Louie McCarthy-Scarsbrook, 14. Luke Douglas, 15. Morgan Knowles.
St Helens Tries: Taia 2, Percival, Thompson. Goals: Richardson 5/5
Hull Starting XIII: 1. Jamie Shaul, 24. Jack Logan, 4. Josh Griffin, 3. Carlos Tuimavave, 5. Fetuli Talanoa, 6. Albert Kelly, 7. Marc Sneyd, 8. Scott Taylor, 9. Danny Houghton, 23. Mickey Paea, 26. Jordan Lane, 12. Mark Minichiello, 21. Sika Manu. Interchange: 13. Josh Bowden, 20. Brad Fash, 17. Danny Washbrook, 15. Chris Green. 14. Jake Connor.
Hull Tries: Kelly, Green. Goals: Sneyd 2/2
Hull 3-2-1 Man of the Match: 3pts Josh Griffin, 2pts Carlos Tuimavave, 1pt Danny Washbrook
Scoring System: 6-0, 12-0, 14-0, 14-6, 20-6, 26-6, 26-12
Referee: Robert Hicks
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