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2014 Hull Fc Season Review

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Submitted By lewisscott97
Words 1973
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2014 for the ‘Black & Whites’ has been a familiar tale of frustration, disappointment and ultimately deflation. Rather than anger from the fans, there was more of a sense of "Ah well, same old same old" around the KC. A squad capable of bringing silverware back to the west of the city, possibly deceived as the strongest group since the 2005 Challenge Cup Winners, failed to find the dreaded C word throughout- CONSISTENCY. Adam Pearson knew it was a gamble placing an untried assistant coach in Lee Radford, at the helm of such a well supported club, but it’s impossible to say if AP’s master plan has paid off just a season in. As with Peter Gentle, it’ll be the second season that Radders can hopefully prove his worth. With preparations already underway for next season, hope springs eternal. Not only is Radford stronger and wiser for the ups and downs of this year, but so too are his youthful squad. Finishing outside the play-offs will most definitely not be an option in 2015 given so much more is at stake. Onwards and upwards you might be forgiven to say…

It’s fair to say worry set into the minds of the fans even in pre-season. An away draw at partner club Doncaster was followed by defeat at Bradford and a 54-6 demolishing at Featherstone in Richard ‘Superman’ Whiting’s testimonial match. Despite this, Hull FC claimed the season’s early bragging rights winning the pre-season ‘friendly’ derby. Inconsistent results even in January set the tone for the rest of the year, with the palms of many supporters planted into their glum faces.

An inspiring start to the Super League season it may have been, but 2 wins out of the first 5 matches wouldn’t suggest this on paper. A nail-biting opener against the Dragons on a cold February night at the KC gave debuts to 5 players plus a somewhat cameo return for a certain Garreth Carvell. 2 tries from Kirk Yeaman and a stunning 70m try from Jordan Rankin got the season off to a flyer, with the assistance of a conversion miss by Thomas Bosc after the final hooter which would have brought the teams level. Round 2 and 3 saw the boys travel across the Pennines to St Helens and Warrington respectively. Two tight matches, but on neither journey back down the M62 was the bacon brought back home (or the first leg of the Steve Prescott cup for that matter). Victory at home to the troubled Bradford Bulls and defeat away at the ‘Wheldon Probiz Mend-A-Hose Collesium Road Jungle’ saw us sitting on 4 points out of a possible 10. Below par.

The 7-0 defeat at home Widnes on that painfully cold and wet day was possibly the worst, most horrific performance on a sporting field I have seen since...well not that long actually. Huddersfield in the 2013 play-offs was pretty darn disgusting. That is all that shall be said about that. The league-cup double header against Koukash’s already stumbling ‘Deviloution’ gave the Airlie Bird’s two convincing points in 30-8 win but also saw the 2013 runners-up dumped out of the Challenge Cup courtesy of a Rangi Chase golden point drop-goal. Hull FC were able to put on a dominant show for Sky’s Thursday night viewers against the holders of the League Leaders Shield in a warm up for a busy Easter period, coming out 30-8 winners over Nathan Brown’s Giants.

A late drop goal from old boy Craig Hall in the final minute decided a thrilling derby as Hull FC lost 21-20 to Hull KR at the KC Lightstream Stadium in the Thursday ‘Good FRIDAY’ Derby whereas Easter Monday brought the annual home walkover over the London Broncos, 40-4. 11 rounds in with only 4 victories. All 7 games lost were by 12 points or less, proving our failings to find that crucial winning try, week in, week out.

May through to July saw the Black & Whites travel on the road for 8 of their 12 games due to pitch resurfacing at the KC, and what a factor this was… FC picked up just 6 points out of a possible 24, including a run of 4 consecutive losses and a run of 6 games without a win. A classic Magic Weekend clash at the Ethihad would see the Robins take a ‘2-0 lead’ in terms of the 2014 derby clashes. Highlights, if you wish to call them that, include scoring 106 points in two games away at London and Widnes, their only consecutive wins in 2014, and dramatic draws against Wakefield and high-flying ‘Classy Cas’.

Round 23 through to 27 ended the season somewhat positively. Loses away at Bradford and Huddersfield aside, memorable wins at the KC against St Helens, Hull KR and Leeds sent supporters into raptures as if they’d achieved something substantial. Truth be told, they’d achieved an 11th placed finish. A lucrative Joe Westerman drop-goal was enough to secure victory over eventual champions Saints (but lose the inaugural Steve Prescott Cup) and a late Jack Logan try in the corner along with a Jordan Rankin touchline conversion 3 minutes from time was enough to see off West Yorkshire rivals, the struggling Leeds Rhinos. Saving the best of the trio of matches until last, the 28-0 victory against Hull KR will no doubt be a derby that goes down in derby history. Hull FC nilled city rivals Hull KR for the first time since 1957 in front of a raucous home crowd at the KC Stadium by putting in a masterful display which saw them dominate throughout in every department. It may have been two derbies to one in favor of the Robins, but I’m sure when the topic of the cross city match comes into question during pre-season, Hull KR fans will be firmly reminded of that fantastic evening back in August. The 3 great results by the Airlie Birds somewhat softened the blow of an 11th placed finish, 5 points away from an 8th place birth place in the play-offs and a tough trip to the Warrington Wolves.

Many players in the squad had absolutely outstanding seasons. I could name half the squad if I had to. So why did we finish 11th you may ask. The somewhat controversial tactics of Radford by chopping and changing the squad means that a complete unchanged 13 from the previous game was never played during 2014. Getting the right half-backs has been a problem for Hull FC ever since Brough and Cooke left the club, but this didn’t seem to be the main pain in the backside this year. Rankin, Horne, Heremaia and Abdull all had decent seasons but the lack of creativity elsewhere in the field seemed to be our downfall. Desire was unquestionable, belief too appeared intact. And yet, for all the positive thinking, it was a failure to put back-to-back victories together more than once which proved Hull’s downfall.

When it comes to consistency, Gareth Ellis has been peerless at Hull, and while others, most notably Joe Westerman, have done well, the captain has very rarely missed a beat. It is no exaggeration to say some of his displays have been world class. And to do that in a side which has struggled is even more impressive.

Many rugby league fans away from the city of Hull may have been wondering, "What on earth happened to Hull FC’s dream team pairing from 2013?" The future stars that never were? Well, to be fair to Tom Lineham, a devastating leg break left him out for almost half of 2014, denying him the ability to hit top form like the year previous. But as for Ben Crooks, he’s never been the same since the injury-effected poor performance in the 2013 cup final. The 21 year old was never able to replicate the outstanding effort he put in to score 20 tries last season, 7 of them coming in 2 consecutive games. Having the likes of Callum Lancaster, Jack Logan and Setamata Sa picked over him, his career will now take him down under for the foreseeable future with Parramatta, with the hope of returning to Super League one day with Hull FC having official ‘first-dibs’.

Top 5 Players of 2014

5. Liam Watts- Gone quietly in 2014, but in my opinion one of the most underrated players not just in the Hull FC squad, but in the whole of Super League. A massive workhorse with the ability to make the transition from the England Knights squad to the national team within the next few years.

4. Jordan Rankin- Easily our best half-back in 2014, making the transition from the sun and sand of the Gold Coast, to the pattie butties and dark skies of the East Coast, bagging 9 tries in the process.

3. Gareth Ellis- Mr Reliable in 2014. The ridiculing from the East half of the City of ‘the old man is looking for a final pay-off’ has quietly dispersed. Indefinitely the most consistent player was also our joint second top try scorer along with our number 2.

2. Fetuli Talanoa- From pneumonia to binman to one of the best wingers in Super League. Talanoa’s return to the game he loves after a close call with death has been an absolute treat to watch. After he himself declared interest in joining the club, an eyebrow was raised by many. But he proved them wrong in absolutely fanatic style scoring 10 tries in 2014. The Tongan international has been Hull’s best back all season, he’s played every second of every game and the good news for Hull fans is he will only get better in 2015 with a first pre-season in years behind him.

1. Joe Westerman- Changing Hull’s system, Radford employed Westerman as a ball-playing loose-forward, tasking him with getting his hands on the ball as an extra pivot. It brought the 24-year-old to life in attack, with his size, strength and skill giving the Black and Whites an extra option. England recognition followed being selected to play against both Samoa and the Aussies. Rightfully the Player of the Year 2014.
Top 5 Moments of 2014

5. Paleaaesina try vs. Hull KR at Magic Weekend

4. Jordan Rankin try vs. Catalans

3. Joe Westerman drop-goal vs. St Helens

2. Jack Logan winning try vs. Leeds

1. Tom Lineham try vs. Hull KR (28-0)

So, what can Hull FC fans expect in 2015? Well AP has already dismissed the "it’s our year" talk. Much like Louis Van Gaal of Manchester United, Lee Radford has a rebuilding process on his hands. With the incoming half-back pair of goal-kicking sensation Marc Sneyd and pal of the coach Leon Pryce confirmed months ago, it seems like the planning for 2015 is already well underway. Much like Jordan Rankin a year previous, Steve Michaels and Mark Minichiello will depart the sunny beaches of the Gold Coast for the KC and ex-Bradford youngster Curtis Naughton will leave 2013 NRL winners South Sydney. With a sixth signing around the corner according to Radford, Hull FC fans can definitely expect improvements on the field- anything similar to this year and it’s going to be a year of endless moaning calling for the coach’s head. Let’s not get too excited and let’s not be expecting any silverware, but let’s hope 2015, our 150th year is a darn bit better than 2014.

Special mentions to Richard Horne and Chris Tuson who will join the coaching staff in 2015. Wishing the best of luck to Aaron Heremaia, Ben Crooks and Jay Pitts.

Prediction: 7th / Challenge Cup Semi-Final…...

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