The Dentist’s Diary – 595th

Oh dear, Oh dear, Oh dear!
In the Tiger in Beverley after the game, we all raised a glass for a toast, as we hailed the efforts of the young kids in those two home victories towards the end of the regular season, against Widnes and Salford. For, without those four points we would have been in the middle eight’s and, with our current issues and on our current form, likely heading for the million-pound game at best.

It’s going to be a strange few weeks isn’t it? It would have been nice to think that those making the decisions on retention and possible recruitment would be casting a close eye over the player’s in black and white throughout the meaningless challenge that is, for us, this Super 8’s competition, and that in turn the players would be playing for their future contracts.

This would then be a time for players to make their mark and bag a place in the squad for 2019. However, that incentive has gone, because we have signed up most of our current players to long term contracts already. Indeed, some that we all thought might be off have actually been retained for another year, so there is little room for manoeuvre at all, and thus, some would say, little for the team to play for either.

Surely the imperative going forward had to be that we should put on some sort of show so that everyone starts to look forward to next season with some hope. That was the challenge that faced us and Wakefield were the first part of it but it’s sad to say on Friday night, we failed miserably.

Our performance was poor but our resolve and mental strength in that second half was awful. There was a lack too of any sort of courage or inspirational play and despite all the rhetoric that preceded the game, Scott Taylor apart, we looked like a team who all had new contracts and were safe for the next campaign and who thus had nothing to play for. In the 2016 and 2017 seasons we had strength, size, resolve and an unending will to win, all qualities that if they were on show at all at the KCom on Friday, were only possessed by our opponents in the last quarter; but it appeared to me, by us.

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The Dentist’s Diary – 594th

It’s been a quiet, old week and after the recent defeats we have experienced, quite frankly ….. that’ll do for me!! However, after the last two glorious years it’s a bit hard to watch other teams getting to Wembley (and Tommy Lineham scoring the tries) isn’t it?

At the FC little news has been coming out of the Club at all, which I guess isn’t surprising, but instead of having a week off the lads have been in and working hard on turning their form around a bit. And, with still no indication of the league structure for next year coming forward either, the season grinds on and we now look to Friday and a chance for revenge against Wakey, a team who will come to the KCOM full of confidence, and intent on beating us again.

Will we see an improved performance after the poor showing against Rovers and will the score be different to three weeks ago at Belle Vue? Well, I bloody hope so don’t you? Still, hopefully it won’t be raining as much as it was for our last home game, but otherwise, with Hull FC of late, everything else is up in the air.

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The Dentist’s Diary – 593rd

Derby defeat puts out any burning embers of hope about Hull FC reaching The Play-Off’s!
……Hull Daily Mail 28-10-18.

I rarely pinch much from the local paper but that headline on Saturday morning said it all, but even that was much too late, as it just quantified everything most FC fans have been saying for the last three weeks. We can now apparently officially forget about having anything much to play for and are now resigned to cruising to the end of the season with the vagaries of this ridiculous league structure ensuring that not only the FC, but Catalans, Wakey, and Huddersfield have all got little to play for but their pride.

The Dobbins were victorious, the bragging right are theirs and have I got it in the neck from the East Hull ‘inteligencia’ ever since! But boy I was upset because Derby defeats are hard to take, particularly when we never really looked like winning. Even when we drew level we somehow knew that we would struggle to finish them off and yet all our Coach could say much about straight after the game was how pleased he was with our defence!

OK our intensity and application in that department was good even in the first half when all the luck went the Robins way, but once again our attack was woeful!! This isn’t football where you can boringly hang on for a draw, in Rugby League you can’t win games if you can’t keep hold of the ball, complete your sets in a structured way and get the processes right at the end of them. The fact is in our game you have to score more tries than the opposition.

We had the Dobbins on the rack at 16-16 but couldn’t finish them off and as I have said a few times of late, for me our inability to build pressure, turn the screw and get over the line from positions in the oppositions 20 is an on-going and worrying trend.

Should we be concerned? Well consider for a minute last season at this time. We had finished third in the league on 27 points, 3 points behind the second placed team Leeds and we were looking forward to a semi-final date next weekend with the Rhino’s at Doncaster to attempt to get back to Wembley again.

We could hardly be in a more contrasting situation this time around could we? And as our 2018 season stutters to its close perhaps it’s time to consider whether we have improved since then? Do we, looking back on the 2018 campaign, still feel that the future is bright? Can the injuries we have sustained in such great numbers, be the only reason we are where we are now? Have we replaced Ellis and Watts who took us so far last year? And finally, despite every one of our starting 17 having been injured some time or other during the campaign, for us disappointed FC fans is it all getting just a tad worrying?
As a fan of 60 years I’ve paid my money and done my time and like everyone reading this I’ve every right to big my Club up and celebrate when they are good and by the same measure when we are rubbish I have every right to complain and grumble about them and so having said that please now read on …..

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The Dentist’s Diary – 592nd

Pathetic!!!!!

Watching our efforts and our players it looked like, “They think it all over” ….well guys, “It is now!!!”

7 points adrift of 4th place with eight games to go and more injuries stacking up; that display saw us bow out of the top four race, the 2018 campaign is gone and although we can all take defeat and disappointment, it was simply not good enough!! It was almost season over before the game and now it certainly is. Our prospects this year ended with a whimper and with our heaviest regular season loss in Super League. Although we’ve had worse days, sat here on Sunday night at home trying to write this blog, it’s hard to remember many!!

In that first half they were really good and we were really poor, and for this fan as the game progressed I moved between manic frustration and fury, to almost being in tears. It’s all very commendable for Lee to take the blame for it all, but whether that is to deflect the heat from the players in Derby week I don’t know, however for me, this was solely down to the players, because with that team on the park, tired and carrying injuries or not, it shouldn’t have been that score, questions have to be asked and its the players who should be asked first.

The Coach has proved he knows how to prepare and motivate a team prior to the game, he’s done it often enough. But he can do nothing once they are out there, although that said I do question the logic of rushing players that aren’t fully fit back into a game on such a hard pitch and for a match that was played in such hot conditions. Lee rolled the dice, gambled a bit and came up short!

At half time the only words I could find were, “Just Pathetic” and believe me others went a lot further with their appraisals of what they were witnessing. For all the planning that we went through last week to get us into the right shape to face the Wildcats, the players might as well have spent their time sat in deck chairs, for we were a disjointed and at times a dysfunctional mess. Was I disappointed, well yes, but I just felt massively let down. Wakey were good, in fact very good, but the West Wales Raiders would have looked good against our lot on Sunday.

The travelling fans deserved so much more. I just hope we have a lot of mirrors down at County Road because our lads need to have a good hard look at themselves before Friday!

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The Dentist’s Diary – 591st

For me, there was certainly no shame at all in that loss!

I expected to come up short in that one, particularly against a team who are by far the best in the game at present, mainly because they are, unlike most other teams, almost completely devoid of injuries. That’s the luck you need and it brings consistency, cohesion and confidence. They are on paper little better as a team than we are, although their structures are different and more effective, but that’s a discussion for another day. Nevertheless, I was certainly heartened by a game that for about 60 minutes we were really in with a chance of winning and in which we again displayed that famed ‘Spirit of 2016’, as the players gave their all and by the end left nothing at all on the pitch.

With such an injury crisis, I was just pleased to attend a game where we were no longer in danger of being sucked into the middle eights. It was stress free rugby, but to my surprise in patches we were really good and really intense, in fact in short bursts we looked a better team than the run-away leaders, but as often happens with young players we couldn’t sustain the intensity and thus the pressure. However, there is no doubt that at 18-10 up, had the master plotter Sneyd and his ‘generals’ of Griffin, Shaul, Talanoa and Westerman been playing, we would have shut the opposition out and witnessed a famous victory, but in the end as fatigue kicked in they were just too mentally tough and too physically strong for us.

But thank heavens for small mercies and at least we are, as I say, safe from that bottom 4, because I wouldn’t fancy going to Headingley, Craven Park (or Wakey), Thuggish Featherstone (again), Toulouse and Toronto if this injury situation (as it appears to be doing at present) continues week on week, would you?

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The Dentist’s Diary – 590th

FOOD FOR THOUGHT ADAM?


Is this the look that says, “Is that our season gone?”

In a week that saw the squad for next season all but complete with little change in personnel and with the FC still in a state best described as ‘ravaged by injuries’, the trip to Huddersfield was probably our best chance, in the remaining four games, to get 2 points to keep us in touch with the top four. Huddersfield couldn’t play as badly as they did at Rovers, but they were still poor at times and at first we looked to have our game plan just right. We then started to lose the battle up front and squandered the ball, whilst The Giants realised that we had little to offer on attack. With only really Bowden, Manu and Westerman missing from our first choice forwards, to be dominated like that in the middle of the park is just not good enough.

However, it was our inability to retain possession and too much risky rugby that did for us as well, with ‘rocks and diamonds’ Miloudi the main transgressor; although in fairness at least he had a go. Huddersfield on the other hand (just like Widnes last week) were a poor outfit, but they had a plan and they stuck to it, whilst we tried to create some miracle plays that soon turned out to have nightmare conclusions.

We have, since the start of that glorious 2016 season, been a team that could always find a way to win games away from home. However, in 2018 we have a poor record on the road and that continued last Thursday. In fact, it’s probably a good job that we have scratched a home win or two in Hull, particularly against Wakefield and Widnes, to keep us away from the bottom four. We have run out of troops, energy and structure and in the last three games we have looked devoid of ideas as well.

There are of course mitigating circumstances but make no mistake about it, whilst there are still ten games left in the season, this was a massive set back and indeed a real missed chance which, when taken in the same context as the Wigan game at the KCOM, may be the difference between making the top four or facing a meaningless seven game mini tournament, when pride is all there is to play for.

As you’ll see below such performances wind everyone up and see us all frustrated and disappointed. That certainly generates an unprecedented level of correspondence from Diary readers, some of which I’ll try and reflect in here as I go along.

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The Dentist’s Diary – 589th


A brilliant view of the KCOM on Friday from Joe Bennett at the start of the second half, as the clouds gather overhead and perhaps over our performance too.

Well that was a poor showing, but in the end we got the points we needed!

On Thursday Danny Washbrook said, “We have to be as close to the four as possible going into the Super 8s. Widnes is the start for that. This week is a big match and we need to set a marker down for how we want to approach the rest of the year.” No one could have argued with that, in fact nothing but a win against the Vikings would have been good enough. And we got one, but in the end only just!!!

That final quarter was certainly hard going… and indeed hard watching for us lot as well!! When your best two players are the only ones who actually played a game last weekend, it has to smack of a team that’s lost the impetus and momentum of weekly games, but in fairness when you look more closely it was our ability to see the game out and our game management, (sadly lacking against Wigan the other week), that was, in the end, our saviour. It was by no means a great performance but again, who cares, we got the two points.

What’s more we got them in a match that was a real watershed between safety in the top eight and keeping in touch with the top four (just) but it was a listless showing in which we got 16 points up without looking very interested at all and then let Widnes back into a game in which they didn’t look to have a hope and yet still we didn’t seem to be that focussed or involved, both out there on the field and on the terraces.

Once again a depleted squad, which was further disrupted with ‘in game’ injuries, (a situation that left us short of rotation from the bench and with Shaul a limping passenger on the wing), struggled to compete with a Widnes team that unbelievably, when you consider their situation, really smelt blood and a rare win.

Still we got home, the sun shone and at least Connor, Taylor Miloudi, Tumavive and a couple of others managed to come out of it all with a bit of credit.

We now move onto Huddersfield on Thursday, a game that will be a big ask indeed. But, it’s a match that offers a top prize of us keeping in touch with the leaders of the division if we win and a consolation prize of the fact that a Huddersfield do us, it will put a massive nail in the Dobbins coffin as well; it’s a funny old game isn’t it?

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The Dentist’s Diary – 588th

Talk about the tumbleweed connection ……Boy last week was a quiet one!!

 

Over the years I have been through some becalmed times particularly in the closed season, but last week was one of the least interesting that I can ever remember, well it was from an FC point of view anyway. With the players being given their first 5-day break for ages and much of the focus on the Denver international, it was hard to find much at all to discuss this week which got me thinking that perhaps it was a time to reflect on our Club, where we are and indeed where the game is at the present time.

 

Fridays hit up against Widnes is certainly an important one if we are to keep in touch with the top four and finally secure our top eight safety, so we can at least look forward to that. But, as for the International, well it was great to see two of our lads out there, before then, our only ever present player in a difficult season, gets an injury when vying for man of the match and whilst not even playing for us! Such is 2018 at Hull FC!!! However, let’s hope, for a change, that this week the news on Jake Connor is good.

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The Dentist’s Diary – 587th

Oh Dear, It’s the first home defeat of the Season.

 

Still, it was so close in the end and on this occasion, rather like against Saints in the Cup, some dumb decisions, our inability to steady the ship in the last few minutes and a big stroke of luck going the way of the opposition in those final moments, did for us. It was a valient effort and well done to everyone who went along and created what looked to be a great atmosphere.

 

I had thought all week it was to be a big ask simply because all the endeavour and passion in the world will, sadly, see you one week come up short, particularly when you are missing your top quality players. Against a wounded Wigan, who had been under the cosh from their own fans, it was always going to be tough and I just somehow thought that circumstances dictated that this could well be that week. So it was, but there is no shame in that performance and it was certainly nothing to be too down about with just two tries each; their first being fortuitous and their second down right jammy.

 

Wigan had lost three successive games in league and cup and they were the team under pressure, while we were amazing everyone with our resilience in adversity, but a stroke of luck brought their poor form to a conclusion and compounded our issues with regard to catching up with the top 4. Short of a miracle it is now a fact that a couple more defeats and we could be adrift before the top eights even start.

 

We have a week off now, a time to regroup both on and off the field and then we simply have to beat Widnes, but that’s for another day and for now we just have to learn from the mistakes, curse our luck and dust ourselves off to go again! Don’t be too disheartened for that was just a case of ‘tough luck and not quite smart enough!’

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The Dentist’s Diary –

WOW!!! where did that come from???

 

Again, for the second week running, this is a Diary that is not that easy to write, because in it I will be trying to describe and explain a performance that is perhaps best defined as unfathomable. On Friday those of us that were privileged to be in attendance witnessed what was quite an amazing victory for a bashed up, bruised and injury hit FC side, which none the less featured the best half of rugby we have seen all season. That shows, if nothing else, that we must live by some of the best values in the game, in a culture that runs right through the extraordinary group of players that we are so lucky to have at the club at present.

 

Salford were poor, no one will contest that, but our young guns took apart a team that had been sat with their feet up last weekend, whilst we had, just last Sunday, experienced one of the most intensely competed defeats we have seen for years. It had been a game that left us mentally and physically drained, and with just 5 days to turn things around. Furthermore, I guess in the context of a need to surge back again after that disappointment, Salford was a must win game.

 

Last week after a Diary that indicated my concerns about just how we could get back up for this match after that heart-breaking Saints defeat, I met lots of FC fans who didn’t disagree with me and although in the pub afterwards on Friday there were a few ‘smart arse’ after the event comments like, ‘Just what I expected’, the almost surreal and subdue acclaim the team got as they left the field after 40 minutes said it all. For on the terraces ‘shell shocked’ and ‘amazed’ were the best adjectives to describe the effect the 37-0 half time score-line had on the ten and a half thousand fans that witnessed that first half. Unexpected; you bet it was!

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