Saturday’s performance against St Helens was simply unacceptable. Any Black and White fan will probably tell you that defeat can be accepted if fight is shown. The truth is that Hull never looked like defeating a rejuvenated Saints side. Some pundits may say it was to be expected with new Coach Justin Holbrook watching on but you can only prepare your own team and some areas were clearly lacking. The Airlie Birds face lowly Leigh on Friday night; a must-win for both sides. What must Lee Radford’s troops do on Friday night to deliver the victory?
Do the basics right:
If you don’t do the basics, you’ll never win games. It’s an old but wise proverb Hull were sloppy across the pitch; falling off tackles, coughing up possession and wasteful with kicking choices. We could put it down as a one off but this isn’t the first time Hull have suffered a thumping defeat. Hammerings against Salford and Leeds in April are a timely reminder that FC at times are simply not turning up with the correct mindset.
Life without Sneyd:
He’s been a regular starter since joining the club but Hull’s kicking king has succumbed to a toe issue that may require surgery. It’s an injury that’s visibly impacted on his usual consistent form in front of the sticks, so the sooner he goes under the knife the better. Hull must look to alternative figures for creativity with the boot. Jake Connor will get another opportunity to play in the halves with Albert Kelly but he really needs to start dictating play more if he is to be considered as a viable option in the future.
Other creative outlets needed besides Albert Kelly:
The talismanic half-back had a rare off game against Saints so the expectancy will be placed on him further still in Sneyd’s absence. This is an inherent issue within the team and Kelly can’t always be relied upon to deliver magical plays. Clearly suffering from a knock in the latter stages of the Magic Weekend fixture, there are plenty of other game breakers within Hull’s squad who can and must start to deliver consistently.
Dealing with injuries:
At the beginning of 2017, Coach Lee Radford stated that he had assembled a squad more than capable of dealing with the rigours of a Super League season. This year we’ve seen a number of key players ruled out for extended periods of time, so several youngsters have been given opportunities to develop in the first team. The likes of Brad Fash, Jack Downs and Jansin Turgut have performed admirably but the constant changes in personnel hardly allow for free flowing rugby. There is no easy solution to the situation; only hope that the injury crisis begins to wane and that youngsters will inevitably benefit from the experience.
Starting games more swiftly:
The heroic comeback against Widnes Vikings to win 33 – 22 in Round 13 is a good example of Hull’s slow starts in games. Against the Vikings they were lucky enough to play an average side who allowed them the opportunity to claw their way back into the game; the likes of Salford or St Helens do not allow this. The level of competition in Super League now is now so fierce that any team is capable of quickly racking points up and Hull must not invite opposition in to do this. Gareth Ellis as Captain is a huge miss where game mindset is concerned but other players must come forward as leaders and fill the void.