The Black and Whites have shown some encouragement this pre-season.
Hull FC have got through their two pre-season trials with next to no hassle and with two positive outcomes. A huge contrast in the skills required to see out each game, Hull showed their metal at Sheffield before opening up with an eye-catching performance at Wakefield.
In many respects, Hull’s pre-season couldn’t have gone much better. Building up their fitness and intensity levels at training whilst being smart about it week to week, the camp is in good spirits, high on energy and drive. Training is engaging and it follows on to a matchday.
With a fresh outlook and a line drawn over last year, Hull seem to be heading in the right direction under Tony Smith. Sure, there is a long way to go and a lot of appeasement still to be had, but if what we’ve seen so far is an indication of the season ahead, then there will be more joy than sorrow.
That’s what it’s all about for Hull this year. Given two disappointing finishes to the last two seasons, there is little point focusing on targets and saying they’re going to do this and that only for it all to come crashing down. What is more interesting is how Hull are going to play, and how they’re going to dig in, showing the defensive desire to roll up and stand tall when the tough moments of adversity hit.
Get all that, and show some polish with the attack, then the results, for argument’s sake, usually take care of themselves. That has to be the focus. It’s the fundamentals that matter, getting the finer details right, the quick play of the ball or pass, or the last-ditch scramble effort to keep the opposition out.
Most fans just want to see the side play with pride this year, have a dig, and show some fight. The fancy stuff is more second nature, but obviously, it will be great to see Hull play with some freedom and look to entertain but all within context throughout the year.
In the two trial games, we saw a bit of everything. Sheffield wasn’t perfect by any stretch of the imagination, but a more younger and inexperienced Hull side actually dug in during the second half and turned a deficit into a positive result. They showed courage to do that and a willingness to work hard.
The attack, meanwhile, was a little clunky but that’s exactly what these games are for. In the two weeks to follow before the Wakefield game, it’s fair to say that Hull, with a slightly stronger squad, managed to iron a few things out. There was certainly some attacking improvement in West Yorkshire – albeit against an under-strength opponent.
Still, you can only beat what’s put in front of you. Hull were much better for the Sheffield game and they started to open up at Wakefield, getting mileage into the ball and showing off a new stylish-looking attack. Of course, the pre-season cliches come to the fore again, it was only that, a trial game, but if it’s any indication of what is to follow, with quick passing, neat offloads, expansive play, et al, then bring it on.
Hull looked good value in possession and were fun to watch. They dominated the game, they showed invention, there was width in their play, there was a second phase, and they always looked dangerous. Then when asked to defend, they stood up as one unit. It was promising – that’s a more than fair evaluation.