It must be exciting to be a Hull FC supporter, exciting to go to a game not knowing whether the Dr Jekyll Hull who can demolish the Leeds Rhinos and beat Warrington would be in attendance, or whether it would be the Mr Hyde Hull who can get beaten by Castleford, the red side of Hull, or Huddersfield. Exciting but frustrating.
The final game of the tenth round of Super League 2022 saw an unusually timed Sunday evening encounter between Hull FC and the Catalans Dragons with the bookies believing that it would be the French side who would be taking the points back with them to Perpignan, giving FC a four-point start on the coupon.
A win for FC would lift them above Hull KR into fourth spot but a loss by eight or more would see them drop to eighth, it was a massively significant game for the Airlie Birds.
Both sides were evenly matched over the opening exchanges with Hull FC being the side spending most time in their opponent’s half.
It took seventeen minutes for Jordan Lane to break the deadlock after taking a Danny Houghton pass and jinking his way through the Dragons defensive line to dove over. Jake Connor added the conversion for a 6-0 lead.
The Dragons were in themselves on twenty-seven with Fouad Yaha winning the race to ground a Josh Drinkwater pinpoint grubber to the left corner. Arthur Mourgue pulled his touchline conversion left of the uprights.
Four minutes after the Dragons breakthrough the home side went in for their second as Chris Satae hit the ball at speed and crashed through three attempted tackles to get the ball on the ground. Connor kicked a second conversion for 12-4 with eight minutes of the half remaining.
Drinkwater was helped from the field with a leg injury on thirty-five, in a blow to the visitors and when Connor added a forty-metre penalty on the half time hooter it was Hull FC who had a deserved 14-4 lead.
Tempers frayed early in the second half, but referee Child calmed the sides without brandishing cards but there was again, nothing to separate the sides on the second half scoreboard.
On sixty-seven the home crowd were silenced when Mitchell Pearce reversed over the line and raised the ball above his head to ground on the line under the tackle of two FC defenders. Mourgue was again wide with his conversion, the Dragons still six adrift with twelve minutes remaining.
A mistake from Connor on seventy-five gifted the ball back to the Dragons on halfway but the Dragons returned the favour on the third tackle.
A seventy-seventh minute penalty, a metre inside the Dragons half, fell short of the posts but as the Dragons made one last push for the all-important second try the Hull defence held firm as the Airlie Birds got a crucial sixth win of the season.
A grind of a match between two tired sides went the way of Hull FC who denied Catalans Dragons their chance to go back to level top of the Super League and in doing so they lifted themselves into fourth place above their closest and fiercest rivals Hull KR. There was little pretty in this arm-wrestle of a game with solid defences stifling any flair in attack. The Dragons will regroup while FC fans celebrate.
Hull FC: Connor (3G), McIntosh, Tuimavave, Vulikijapani, Shaul, Reynolds, Lovodua, Sao, Houghton, Evans, Ma´u, Lane (T), Fash. Subs: Brown, Johnstone, Satae (T), Taylor.
Catalans Dragons: Mourgue, Yaha (T), Laguerre, May, Davies, Drinkwater, Pearce (T), Napa, McIlorum, Dudson, Whitley, Jullien, Garcia. Subs: Da Costa, Seguier, Goudemand, Kasiano.
Score Progression: 4-0, 6-0, 6-4, 10-4, 12-4, 14-4 : HT : 14-8 : FT.
Referee: James Child.