Posts Tagged ‘Hull FC’

Season Review: Hull FC

September 15, 2009

hullfc

Points For: 502

Points Against: 623

Home Record: W5 L8

Away Record (including Magic weekend): W5 L9

Longest Winning Streak: 5

Longest Losing Streak: 5

Top Points Scorer: Danny Tickle (176)

Top Try Scorer: Craig Hall (10)

Top Tackler: Lee Radford (820)

A bitterly disappointing season for the Airlie Birds, which started with so much promise before simply fading into oblivion. I can’t remember a team falling apart from a position of dominance so early into the season. If Hull looked like being locks to make the playoffs through the first quarter of the season, they were already written off by the halfway point. 

It’s hard to believe that going into the final few minutes of their game against Castleford at home, they looked like remaining near the top of the table. Then Brent Sherwin snuck over a drop goal, and their season was never the same from that point on. In fact, it would take Hull around four times as many games to get the same number of wins that they got in the first five weeks. Even worse, Hull KR took over as the top team on Humberside, finishing above FC for the second year in a row and finishing in the top four. 

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Sean Long to Hull FC

June 1, 2009

 

An artist's impression of what Sean Long playing for Hull FC may look like

An artist's impression of what Sean Long playing for Hull FC may look like

Well, I can’t say I saw this one coming. It has been officially announced that Hull FC have signed Sean Long for next season on a two year deal. Long had been vocal about his disappointment that St Helens had not been offering him a two-year contract. 

I think the fact that this has been sorted out so early offers an indication into Long’s mindset. He’s approaching the end of his career and is beyond the point where he wants to faff around. He clearly thinks he’s got something to offer for the next two years, so why wouldn’t he take up the longer deal? At least he’s got it all sorted out now, as we’re fast approaching the business end of the season and I doubt contract talks were something Long wanted distracting him at crunch time. 

This also clearly offers some insight into the thinking at Hull FC as well. This experiment with Chris Thorman hasn’t really panned out after a good start, and they will obviously be looking for the experience that Long offers to have a stabilizing effect at the club. However, with this signing added to that of Craig Fitzgibbon, there’s a lot of veteran players coming into the KC Stadium next year, and you have to wonder how wise a move that is considering their notorious injury problems over the last few years. If Long or Fitzgibbon fail, they’ve set themselves up to take a lot of flak. 

Of course, it will be interesting to see what Saints will do now. Long has been the lynchpin of their attacking game for over a decade now, but Saints have clearly been about his successor for a while, with both Matty Smith and Kyle Eastmond logging up game time in the past few seasons. Smith appears to have fallen out of favour and I’m not convinced that they think Eastmond is where they want him to be (although the dilemma of course is that they haven’t been able to start with Long there). We shall see if Saints are happy with what they’ve got, or if they feel the need to bring someone else in.

Hull FC 24 – 16 Castleford

May 5, 2009

So Hull kept getting back on track, and Castleford stayed in this relative mini-slump of theirs. It all could have been so different though, as this was a back-and-forth contest in which both sides pushed each other all the way, and it’s a shame that the result of the match was heavily influenced by a dodgy refereeing decision. Phil Betham penalised Mark Wainwright for a dodgy play-the-ball with the scores level in the final ten minutes, but it looked like a) Wainwright had a Hull man interfereing with him and b) he managed to play the ball correctly. In the end the penalty was enough to force Cas to chase the game and also to provide Hull FC with a comfort zone that they took through (and even increased) to the end. 

Hull will be glad to have come away with the win in their second close encounter in a row. They showed great spirit in coming back three times during the match, and they took advantage of the chances they got very well. Danny Washbrook is finally overcoming a spell of injury to really make an impact. Willie Manu was also a threat both in attack and defence, as his constant attempts at ball-stealing tended to either work or force the TIgers to take extra care around him, thus reducing their second-phase play. Even though they’ve only just managed to win their last two games, Hull have still won them and look like they’re regaining their mojo. 

Cas in turn will feel disappointed and possibly even cheated. In the end, Hull were the better side though and Cas really gifted them field position with a kicking game that bordered on shocking at times (Brent Sherwin sent the ball straight dead twice). Cas had a cutting edge but they seemed to lack a finishing ability, and they relied on a near-miracle play for one of their tries (see below). Their forwards were also up for the tough battle in the middle, but they seemed to be lacking dynamism (a Mitchell Sargent break down the middle notwithstanding). Cas strike me as a side who are treading water at the minute but they’re not that far off, and once they hit a groove again I think they’ll get back on the winning track. 

One more thing… Kirk Dixon’s move to keep the ball in play in the Hull in-goal for the Tigers’ third try (scored by Jamie Evans) was probably the most spectacular bit of play of the whole weekend. Pure instinct on show there, and it’s a shame it wasn’t in a winning effort. I’ve got a gif of the move hidden behind the link (as not to overload the frontpage). If you haven’t already seen it, I highly recommend having a look. 

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Stuart Reardon to Hull FC

April 14, 2009

Shirt now out of date (The Sun)

Another thing that I didn’t get around to covering last week was Warrington’s release of Stuart Reardon. As we all know, Reardon has his fair share of personal problems right now, and with an extensive injury problem added to that, I could see why the Wolves would see that as too much excess baggage to carry. Apparently, Hull FC don’t feel the same way, because they’ve signed up the newly-available Reardon.

This strikes me as an odd move on Hull’s part. I assume that Reardon has communicated to them that he’s confident of avoiding a custodial sentence in his upcoming sentencing, because otherwise the Airlie Birds have just signed a player whom they are going to lose almost straight away.On top of that, there’s the fact that Reardon has been a walking (limping?) injury for the most part of his tenure at Wire, which makes him an odd recruit for a side as ruined by injuries in the recent past as Hull. Still, if they get him patched up and ready to play he could be an interesting addition to the Black and Whites’ backline. I assume he is supposed to be a replacement for Todd Byrne, who has left the club by mutual consent after a season-ending injury.

I assume Reardon is doing this because he wants to keep his mind off of unwanted distractions. It’s also quite obvious at this point he and Warrington was a relationship that just wasn’t meant to be, and he’ll be looking to reinvigorate his career on Humberside (it’s easy to forget that he was an international quality back a few seasons ago). Whether he’s able to or if the courts put his career on hiatus for him remains to be seen…

Monday Musings: To Hull and Back

March 16, 2009

With all the talk about underperforming and underachieving teams currently dominating the narratives of Super League right now, there hasn’t been all that much chatter about the teams who have improved dramatically this season. What’s even more of an oversight is that two of these sides are in the same city. Hull is very much doing its claim for Rugby League capital of England a world of good with both its two Super League sides coming back from disappointing campaigns to be riding high this year. 

Last season, both of the Hull sides finished outside of the play-offs, and indeed Hull FC endured perhaps their worst season in a decade. so far this season, it’s looking a little rosier on Humberside. As of this morning, Hull FC are second and still unbeaten. Only points difference is keeping them off the top at the minute Perhaps even more surprisingly, Hull KR are currently fifth with only the one defeat and one draw blotting their resumé. Both sides have been doing pretty well in the attendances department as well, with FC averaging just over 13,500 and KR getting in around just over 8,500 a game. 

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Monday Musings: The Kids Are Alright

March 9, 2009

Tony Smith must’ve looked at the pitch at his former wards and felt a slight tinge of jealousy and regret. On Sunday, as Warrington hosted the champions and put in an improved performance, it still wasn’t enough to beat a resilient Leeds side. Not only that, but they were beaten by a side with 12 out of the starting thirteen being products of the Leeds Academy system, with only Scott Donald not being from around those parts (another product of theirs, Danny Allan, was on the bench).

Elsewhere, Wigan changed the direction of their season with a crushing defeat of the Bradford Bulls. In doing so they finally gave Sam Tomkins the start many had been pushing for and he certainly did not disappoint, and neither did Shaun Ainscough, Michael McIlorum or the other products of the vaunted Wigan Academy that finally seem to be getting playing time. Hull FC (briefly) went to the top of the table this week with a victory engineered by a backline featuring five of their own products. Castleford’s talented group of young guns have clearly learned from the trials of last season because they’re currently in third place and have already won in Wigan and Perpignan. Even Harlequins, who have to make do with relatively miniscule (if admittedly growing) resources when it comes to junior development and local talent, fielded four of their juniors in their side that thrashed Salford away.

Perhaps, just perhaps, teams have begun paying attention to the fact that Leeds and St Helens, by far and away the two most successful teams of the last few years, are both brimming with youngsters that have come through their respective systems. Look at the last three Men of Steel: Paul Wellens, James Roby and James Graham, all players who have come through the system at Saints and are now established not only as amongst the top performers in Super League, but as internationals as well. For the Rhinos it’s no secret that the key to their success has been their midfield triangle of Kevin Sinfield, Rob Burrow and Danny McGuire, and recently they’ve been joined by a host of talented youngsters in the pack. Although these sides are supplemented with bought-in superstars, for the most part their success is remarkably self-developed. 

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Hull FC: Black & Whites need to get back on track

February 3, 2009

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I think it’s fair to say that FC will want to take a mulligan over last year’s efforts. After reaching the playoffs six times in the previous seven years (and only just missing out on them in 2003) last season turned out to be somewhat of a disaster. Finishing second from bottom ahead of a struggling Castleford (and only just ahead in the end) was not in the plans of a side who had been in the Grand Final a mere two seasons before. Worse yet, they surrendered Humberside’s bragging rights to Hull KR, who were victorious in three of their four meetings and finished above them in the table. A run to the Challenge Cup final did little to ease the suffering.

What really set FC back last year was an absolutely dire injury situation, which saw Adam Dykes barely get out of his sick bed and left them without Richard Horne for all but three matches. It also left them without a first-choice pack for the majority of the season. If the Airlie Birds want to challenge for silverware this season, their imperative must be to make sure that they have their first-choice out on the field for as much of the season as is possible. Although they have a talented core of youngsters, relying on them for too much of the season is asking for trouble.

Of course, one of the (very few) positives to come out of last season for FC last season was that they blooded an awful lot of those youngsters. Considering they had been hyped as one of the best group of Academy players, last season may have done some damage to their reputation. However it is not their fault that FC weren’t able to introduce them to Super League in a sensible manner (it’s not really FC’s fault either). If any of them are able to take last season’s experience and use it to kick on this season them perhaps it will all have been worth it. Plus added to the current squad come Chris Thorman and Mark Calderwood, players who have both been around the block when it comes to Super League and also tend not to miss too many games.

Hull will probably be aiming to win the title, thinking that last season was an aberration and that they can get right back onto the course they were heading before it. Whether that’s realistic or not I’m not so sure. What they really need is stability in the halves, and that’s something that Thorman should bring. If Horne is fit and able to last the course then that can only be a good thing for FC. But having taken a few steps back last season Hull might find it tricky to get back to where they were, and they’ll be hoping they haven’t fallen into that pack of teams hoping to scrape into the bottom of the playoffs. (more…)