Well let’s be honest that wasn’t great, and in truth parts of the contest were bang average, but Hull FC got the job done, defeating Widnes 39-20 on the plastic pitch to get back to winning ways.
One man in particular to thank for that was Josh Griffin, who’s excellent form continues to be the benchmark in the side right now. The best player on the park by a distance, the powerful centre was supposed to start in the back row, but a failed pain killing injection on Carlos Tuimavave left the latter out and the former back in a position where he has really excelled this season.
Griffin’s a man hitting top gear. His metre making abilities are second to none at the club right now. He’s busting the line, killing defences and scoring some tries too, with another brace added to the one against Catalans last month. Hitting his stride in Hull FC colours, the sort is punishing all before him, with another impressive eighty minute display added to his highlight reel for 2018. This is the Griffin we all expected to see when he first signed. He was good in the second half of last season but this year he’s been different class and is fully justifying his praises.
Additionally Bureta Faraimo was very good on his return to the side too. Another powerful runner of the ball, the USA/Kiwi island hopper rampaged down the right edge, showed a clean pair of heels, and bulldozed his way through several defenders to score his try. Coming into the side to replace a fan favourite in Mahe Fonua was always going to be tough, but on that evidence it seems a run of games free from getting knocked out or being sent off will do him and his reputation no harm at all.
But in truth and at the risk of upsetting some of the Black and White goggles brigade, the score-line flattered Hull. Those two blokes aside there were moments throughout were we looked bang average at best and against quality opposition that would have told. However there’s that old saying you can only beat what’s in front of you and the side did that – for twenty minutes at least. It’s worth pointing out too that it was a side missing five players, three of them pivotal in Sika Manu, Mark Minichiello and Dean Hadley, who would definitely aid go-forward and add some punch on the edges.
With those absentees a first appearance of the season was handed out to Jack Downs, who didn’t do a lot wrong. Danny Washbrook, beneficiary of a freakish pass from Jake Connor for his try, also started in the back row with Jez Litten earning a bench spot. It will be interesting to see how many times that will come to fruition as Danny Houghton’s engine eases down as his age catches up with him, but again there were promising signs from the young hooker out of dummy half. Spelled together it worked, with Houghton, after conserving energy, a real telling influence during his second spell – a period where Hull ran away with a game that looked like getting away from them.
Widnes it must be said were missing a lot of key players too but did manage to get their pivots on the field. At one stage they look the lead, but credit to Hull who abolished that quickly through a first Super League try for Masimbaashe Matongo, who swan dived and nearly shook the ground around him by doing so. What a line. What a chap. His celebration showed just how much it means to be playing for this team and it was great to see.
That purple patch brought with it three quick fire tries and took the score from 14-12 to 14-27, with a record Marc Sneyd drop-goal added to the collection. That was the scrum halves 19th one pointer in FC colours, setting him one above the great Brian Hancock on the all-time charts. Add the fact that Sneyd has only been with Hull for three and a bit years compared to Hancock’s 15 and it’s an ever more impressive achievement for the kicking king, who has cemented another record at the club with many more probably still to come.
Sneyd also provided a pin-point kick to Talanoa in the second half, whilst half back Albert Kelly set up two tries despite playing with a troubled hamstring. Fair play to him for putting his hand up again. Worth every penny isn’t he. But amongst the praises we’ve got to start playing for longer periods. A depleted Widnes team were a lot better than a 19-point deficit and we were fortunate to get that.
Luckily we finished with a flourish with Griffin and Jamie Shaul crossing over to make the result look a lot more comfortable than it seemed. Never the less though, it’s a step in the right direction, and with key players still to come back, there’s an expectation and hope that the potential of this team is still to be reached.
Widnes Starting XIII: 1. Rhys Hanbury, 4. Charly Runciman, 12. Matt Whitley, 14. Chris Dean, 22. Ryan Ince, 6. Joe Mellor, 7. Tom Gilmore, 19. Greg Burke, 33. Aaron Heremaia, 26. Ted Chapelhow, 17. Sam Wilde, 16. Tom Olbison, 11. Chris Houston. Interchange: 20. MacGraff Leuluai, 29. Owen Farnworth, 21. Jordan Johnstone, 25. Jay Chapelhow.
Widnes Tries: Wilde, Olbison 2. Goals: Gilmore 4/4
Hull Starting XIII: 1. Jamie Shaul, 2. Bureta Faraimo, 14. Jake Connor. 4. Josh Griffin, 5. Fetuli Talanoa, 6. Albert Kelly, 7. Marc Sneyd, 8. Scott Taylor, 9. Danny Houghton, 23. Mickey Paea, 17. Danny Washbrook, 27. Jack Downs, 13. Josh Bowden. Interchange: 15. Chris Green, 29. Masimbaashe Matongo, 22. Jez Litten, 3. Carlos Tuimavave (unused).
Hull Tries: Washbrook, Faraimo, Matongo, Griffin 2, Talanoa, Shaul. Goals: Sneyd 5/7. Drop Goal: Sneyd
Hull 3-2-1 Man of the Match: 3pts Josh Griffin, 2pts Bureta Faraimo, 1pt Danny Houghton
Scoring System: 0-6, 0-12, 6-12, 8-12, 14-12, 14-18, 14-22, 14-26, 14-27, 20-27, 20-33, 20-39
Referee: Chris Kendall
Our Hull FC reports in 2018 are courteously produced by the Up the Cream Fanzine.
Check out their website here