O.K. it’s over and the hordes of FC fans are now making their way back home, half way around the world, after what has no doubt been for them all the experience of a life time. Well done as well to the Club, for making it happen and to the players for a great performance on Saturday. They have all, both on the field and on the terraces been tremendous ambassadors for the British game. What a great success the last two weeks have been! All that and it seems no more injuries to report as well.
But now folks, like it or not, its back to reality and let’s just get everyone home and ready for Saturday eh? We can only hope that we can reproduce some of that form back here in Great Britain, starting as I say, at Castleford this Saturday.
Last Saturday morning I was very proud of every one of our players. It would have been easy to give up the ghost after that Wigan defeat and you know and I know, that some FC teams of years passed would have done just that. But, even when you consider the injuries we had sustained, we didn’t give an inch and we were every bit as good as the Dragons, with the exception perhaps of our defence wide out. Once again we conceded too many penalties, particularly in our own half, but the effort was there and we looked pretty proficient when spreading the ball across the line.
It’s has to be good for the team and great for the Club, I’m sure of that and what’s-more, they did us all proud!
“I’m really pleased with the effort. There were some outstanding individual performance’s today. I love the initiative by the two clubs. I’ve loved the experience and I really hope it can happen again. I’m obviously disappointed with the result but all in all, it’s been a great trip so far”, so said Lee Radford after the game and few can argue with that really, for playing through such adversity in such temperatures is tough!! And here’s a message for all of you Hull FC supporters reading this and still basking in the sunshine in ‘The Gong’; we might have been beaten but at least you can take some comfort from the fact that it’s been bloody freezing in Beverley!!!
It’s not often that I start these diatribes with an assertion that injuries in a game cost us dearly. Perhaps we are well conditioned these days, perhaps our injury management is good, perhaps we are just lucky, or maybe, usually, I don’t rate such excuses that much, but in the end on Saturday that scenario was indeed the case. In a game that, when you look back at it, we could still have won had we had a bit of luck and retained the ball better, we were hit by injuries big time.
As for the match itself, well, after going all that way surrounded by all that hype, it all came down to a game of rugby and someone in the end was going to lose, exhibition games are one thing, but when two Super League points are at stake it’s completely another. We lost and in the end, as our energy ebbed away, Wigan easily prevailed, but with a fair wind we could have undoubtedly got something out of it.
But the most positive aspect of it all is that around 12,400 were in attendance and taking Super League to Wollongong had therefore been a success. What an amazing turn out of FC fans we have seen in Australia, with the Faithful outnumbering the Pies fans by at least 3 to 1. We have well over 2000 out there supporting the lads and it’s another great example of the loyalty and passion of so many, some of whom will no doubt have made huge sacrifices to get there in the first place.
It’s just a pity they weren’t all better rewarded. Incidentally, it’s also interesting to note that the attendance was actually better than any game between the two clubs in the 2017 regular season, so well done to both Clubs and the New South Wales Tourist Board for getting that many people there.
Those were two, precious, precious points and in the end it was a good night, a fine occasion and pretty much all we could have wished for so early in the season!!
It was always going to be a bit hit and miss, but it’s all about the W in the games played column at this time of the year and if you were to describe Thursday night in a sentence, then it would be ‘scintillating for half an hour and adequate and understandably scratchy, for the rest of the game’. At one point in that first half we conceded too many yards and our goal line defence, which has served us so well, looked shaky . So early in the season it’s hard to repel sustained attack and they went Penalty, Penalty – Try, lost ball, Penalty – Try and quickly posted two easy scores in a period of play when perhaps a better team would have grabbed another couple as well. But leading from the front with some tenacious tackling when we trailed 12-4, Houghton and Co. somehow survived, rallied and eventually came good in quite dazzling fashion.
Therefore, it was job done and we flew out to the sunshine on Friday night with some early momentum and two points in the bag and, standing back from its all, I guess we couldn’t have wanted for much more. To sit there for the last twenty minutes knowing that the opposition weren’t going to win, was a nice way to ease us all into the 2018 season and in the end that’s how easy it turned out to be! What’s more, it brought two points that I believe will be priceless as a springboard for the next few difficult weeks.
Congratulations to everyone who braved a cold night to make a brilliant opening gate of 13,700 and to Hull FC in general for an enjoyable evening. I also would extend a big well done to Lee Radford, for cometh the hour the attitude was just right and the youngsters stepped up seamlessly to produce a brilliant second half lift in a game that was always going to be a potential banana skin.