Hull FC began their home campaign with a loss on Thursday evening, going down 14-16 to the Catalan Dragons in an error-ridden game.
A defensive masterclass from the Black & Whites proved futile as Luke Walsh kicked the French side to victory, with Lee Radford’s side showing a worrying lack of attacking flair.
FC, who were on a four game winning run against the Dragons, outscored the opposition in terms of tries, with Carlos Tuimavave and Liam Watts the scorers, but Walsh’s 4 penalties proved the difference with Richie Myler scoring the only try for the French.
Hull were hoping to impress in front of a 13,500 crowd at the KCOM, however coming into the match they were without Albert Kelly who was serving a one-match suspension for a high tackle in last week’s Wakefield clash. Josh Bowden replaced him in the squad coming back from injury, while Jake Connor took his place in the halves on his home debut.
Meanwhile for the visitors, new signings Brayden Williame, Iain Thornley, Greg Bird and former-FC man Sam Moa lined up along side Walsh in the Dragons squad.
The game was slow from the off with the only real early action coming from a Marc Sneyd penalty after 12 minutes to give the hosts a 2-0 lead. Hull’s received a huge blow just moments later however, losing their captain Gareth Ellis for the rest of the game after a late challenge from Moa, who went un-penalised by referee Robert Hicks.
Luke Walsh added his first penalty a few minutes later to bring the scores level, before Danny Houghton took somewhat revenge on his former teammate Moa with a huge hit that got the fans off their feet.
Greg Bird was put in the sin-bin not long after for holding onto Josh Griffin after being put on a team warning. But Hull failed to make their one man advantage count and Luke Walsh knocked over another penalty to give the Dragons the lead for the first time in the match.
Hull would have to wait 37 minutes before getting their first try of the evening, coming courtesy of Carlos Tuimavave. A classy offload from Sika Manu close to the line allowed the centre to dive over and with the aid of Sneyd’s conversion, give FC a 8-4 lead at the break.
However the Black & Whites began the second-half in the worst possible fashion, with Catalans making a break down field and Richie Myler racing away to score. Walsh added the extras. Hull were penalised again in the 50th minute and the former Saints man kicked another 2 points to bring the scores to 8-12.
Catalans almost extended their lead was in not for a late tackle from Jake Connor which put Thornley into touch.
But Hull would once again take control of the game with 20 minutes to play. Entering a more dominant spell, a ball-steal from Liam Watts on the Catalans line on Krisnan Inu gifted the home side a try, and with Sneyd’s successful conversion, Hull were back ahead 14-12.
But it would be Walsh who proved the difference. Two goals in as many minutes just moments after Hull’s second try took the scores to 16-14, and that’s how they would stay. Liam Watts spent 10 minutes in the bin close to the end of the game to add to Hull’s woes.
— Scott Taylor (@ScottTagTaylor) February 23, 2017
A very frustrating night for Hull FC. One that will not want to be repeated at the KCOM again this season. Not only did Hull give away countless silly errors, they were consistently poor in attack. It’s all okay having solid defence, but it you don’t score you don’t win games.
It’s hard to even say Hull blew chances, as most of the match was played in their own half. Credit to the likes of Scott Taylor, Liam Watts and Sika Manu who had another great match keeping the opposition at bay, but the attackers didn’t do enough at all.
Hull FC are not a one man team, but it’s become far too noticeable far too often when Gareth Ellis isn’t on the field. We lack leadership going forwards, and with a whiplash injury possibly leaving him out of the next game, Hull need to find a solution.
The return of Albert Kelly at Huddersfield next week will be welcomed; Jake Connor’s effort was unquestionable but just like so many others, he lacked enough flair to have an affect on the game. Lee Radford has a lot of work to do with his players before next week.