The Dentist’s Diary – 635th

How can a team that demolished Catalans so convincingly turn around just 5 days later and play like that? Well for me the answer to that one is the 5-day turnaround bit and perhaps little else and believe me, Rovers were lucky to catch us on it!

Lee Radford’s last words on the Derby before kick-off were that, ‘Want and Desire are the key’. We had neither really, but where you surprised? I hate to be the clever bugger and as you know I always back my team against anyone, but in here last week I did fear the worst and in the end it was just a game too far after that match in France with the travel and the heat and the euphoria of that success. Plus, we were perhaps a bit too confident in the build-up!

I hate the place and I’m glad I didn’t go! All that said Thursday was disappointing. Being beaten by the great unwashed always is, but for me it was a scrappy game in which we had to play backs to the wall rugby, were lacking in energy and made far too many silly errors. Getting beaten by that lot is always a bummer and of course predictably, the way some of their fans reacted you would have thought they’d won the cup final. However, I guess that’s just what it was for them, as they have nothing to play for but their survival. Like all tired teams we forced it too much, were too lateral, made too many errors and panicked, to such an extent that a better team would have had us, big style. Looking back on it we are probably lucky that Rovers aren’t a better team!

So many folks had a go at me last week for my predictions in here. But I sort of knew what was at stake for both sets of players. Getting two points when you are rested up and in danger of losing your job, against two points to get a bit closer to the team in second place and doing it after everything we had been through 5 days earlier in France, always, for me, offered too much of a bias towards the Dobbins.

It’s a set-back but not a major one! We are still third, we still have 24 points and now have 9 games to keep that position in the much coveted top three. That ranking is ours to lose and the battle starts on Friday at The KCom against the Saints, who are far and away the best team in the competition!

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The Dentist’s Diary – 634th

That was Absolutely Sensational!!!

Could you believe some of that rugby … because I couldn’t!!!

For a bloke who is 69 this week, I find that you get to a point when you don’t believe that anything can surprise you anymore. But, in the life of a sports fan there are very occasionally, times when you are just lost for words, when your team is just so good that is hard to believe that (in this case), it’s the same group of players that got absolutely mullered at home by Warrington not so long ago. The fact is I think, that when this team really has their ‘heads on’ and move the ball around they are nothing short of glorious to watch.

Griffin, who was named in the pack, played a traditional wide running second rowers role and was almost unplayable and a real back-row forward for the future. Connor when he injected himself into the game was mesmerising and in Ratu, who we were reminded is eligible for GB, we have a finisher as good as anything you will see in this country. His try, which was recorded as a 105-meter effort, was just amazing. [PA1] 

But on the day it was another real team effort, Sneyd again controlled things and kicked impeccably both from the Tee and in play, while up front we took on and eventually overcame one of the biggest packs in the competition. Taylor, Green, Manu, Paea and the visibly improving Bowden worked so hard down the middle, Houghton provided the service and Griffin, Savelio and Westerman just ground it out!! By the end, the much vaunted and pretty hefty Catalan pack were visibly blowing for a tug!!

It was a game that under the circumstances (the heat, the travel and the opposition smarting from that London reversal last week) was a big ask for the FC, but a great chance to go 4 points clear in third, 6 points clear of 6th and put a massive 12 points between us and the relegation place held by the hapless Dobbins at the bottom. I doubted we could do it, because usually in such situation Hull FC just don’t do it, but we took that big chance, in quite ‘un-Hull like fashion.

I say that because for a team that have been so unpredictable, to the point of being down right inconsistent, we just went out and carried it all on from that second half at Castleford and with the confidence flowing, we at last strung two quite unbelievable halves together, in what was at times a breath taking win.

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The Dentist’s Diary – 633rd

“Kelly scores … and that was Box Office!”

Those were the final words on the Sky end credits, when you watched it back afterwards and there is no doubt that when we are ‘on it’ we can score some amazing tries and really entertain the spectators. 10 points down at half time and looking slightly second best, you should never write this FC team off, as long as, of course, we have our ‘heads on’!!

At that moment I was ecstatic and so was everyone at home and there in Castleford. And I mean everyone, for as you watch it back and see the joy on Lee’s face and the happiness he and Andy Last embraced as Kelly dived in, you realise just how lucky we are to have a set of guys running our team who are as big a fans, as we all are!  

I grumble when we lose and dance when we win, for I’m a fan and its expected of me. But I was proud of our lads on Thursday, as we witnessed a second half renaissance of amazing magnitude. Once again the tries were well engineered, full of individual style and exciting to watch. In games as tight as this one was, true quality is key and Hull FC had marginally more, as we edged past Castleford Tigers and then blew them away. Our right edge was lethal and in Ratu we must have the find of the season!

With 3 assists in the game, Connor was quite amazing and a relieved and still elated Lee Radford afterwards praised him for responding to his pre-game instructions. He was outstanding as was ‘Commander’ Sneyd and ‘Hat trick hero’ Albert Kelly, as our spine sparkled and shone in the second half Castleford gloom. It was again a wonderful effort by all concerned and with Ellis, Manu, Tumavive, Griffin and Bowden missing, all of whom would have a big call on playing if fit, or not suspended, it was a heartening win for the squad as well.

Realism is needed as well, for we are I guess still a bit in and out. Against Cas and Catalan it was our second half display that got us home, whilst against Salford it was that compelling first half blitz that just saw us win. In the other halves of those games we have been bested by the opposition, but as they say, it’s the points in the table that matter at this point of the season, and another two saw us on 22 and sat in third on Thursday night!!

That’ll do for me!!!!  

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The Dentist’s Diary – 632nd

That one was not for the faint hearted!!

Remember those Disaster Movies of the 70’s and 80’s where everything is going smoothly before catastrophe strikes and the heroes just get out by the skin of their teeth at the end? Well once again the Towering Inferno had nothing on being an FC fan on Friday night!

“Hardly Convincing was it!!”, seemed to be a universal assessment of what we saw at the KCom and convincing it certainly wasn’t!

That said, I would wholeheartedly agree with Lee Radford that it was all about getting the two points, but again it was tough to watch. From a position where we were in command and almost cruising, Salford just wouldn’t go away. So, in the dying embers of the game as we watched every second tick by on the clock we were saved again, with a minute to go, by a bit of Marc Sneyd’s restart kicking genius.

Fresh for the fight, there is no doubt that Salford had enjoyed a week off to sort out their bumps and bruises. They are a good team who had previously destroyed Catalans in France, won at Warrington at Easter and pushed Saints to the brink a few weeks ago at the Totally Wicked Stadium. Yet, it wasn’t that much of a surprise that on the night one or two of our lot still underestimated them, however, as a rival for the 4th or 5th spot in the League, we have now done the double over them and thus consolidated our place in the top half of the table!

For the casual observer it was a wonderful end to end game of open flowing rugby which held the interest right up to the final hooter. However, for us lot, the long suffering FC pilgrims huddled together on the terraces, it was again by the end excruciating to watch. Playing with just 11 men we almost capitulated in the face of a resurgent Salford outfit that smelt blood and you’d better believe that we’ll have to be so much more switched on at Castleford on Thursday.

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The Dentist’s Diary – 631st

‘Heroes and villains’

Who’d be an FC fan eh?

Don’t ask me to explain that, the Club can’t, the Coach can’t, the Players can’t, so I’ve no chance!!

Instead I’ll pose the question, “Are Hull FC ‘the Forrest Gumps’ of Rugby League???” Well they might well be just that!! Undoubtedly with our team this year, life IS like a box of chocolates because ‘you never quite know what you’re gonna get’. I can’t take credit for that gem, because reader Richard Hall actually text that to the Club, straight after the final hooter and so surreal is this season becoming, no one could really put it any better!

After Huddersfield we were battered, bruised, deflated and despondent and that was just the fans, BUT, as a team we had just 5 days to turn it around. As supporters we wondered if that was ever going to be possible. Catalan on the other hand, as the Cup holders, were the darlings of the media in the build up!  They’d gone four games undefeated including wins in ‘Big’ fixtures in Barcelona and at the Magic Weekend, (where their pack looked awesome), they had rested Mcilorum and Tomkins last week, just for this game, and no doubt Steve McNamara was licking his lips at the chance to get one over his old Club and in so doing get back to Wembley. For the tie the Dragons even stayed over in this country between matches to ensure they had no distractions, they were fully focussed and right on it! They couldn’t lose could they?

No one gave us a hope (if I’m honest you can include me in that too) yet we produced a quite phenomenal display and when Catalan were two tries down in that second half, it was their turn to run out of steam and look as if they were playing in lead boots.  

As performances go it was convincing! We just ran all over them in that second half, but whoever we had been playing in the British game that night, we would probably have beaten them! It might not have been by as many points, but the old adage that we can beat anyone on our day, was never more pertinent than it was at 10-00pm last Thursday night. It would be nice however if someone could tell us (and apparently Lee Radford as well) in advance, exactly when it is going to be our day!

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