Challenge Cup holders Hull progressed to the quarter-finals with a 38-20 win over Featherstone in front of the Sky Sports TV cameras in a game packed with incident. We take a look at five things we learned.
Featherstone’s attacking quality
Some were surprised when Featherstone sacked Jon Sharp ahead of The Qualifiers last season, but their progression under John Duffy has long since vindicated that decision. The newly appointed joint Scotland coach has Featherstone playing an attractive style of rugby and they showed some great attacking shape. Sure, their defence could have been better and they struggled to handle Hull at times, but it’s clear to see why Luke Briscoe has been over for so many tries when you look at the shape Rovers create on the right. Imagine combining that with the left hand side of Castleford’s attack…
Jake Connor is the real deal
He’s turning in to somewhat of a pantomime villain, and he will come up against much sterner tests than last night’s Championship opponents, but Connor is continuing to show what a quality player he is. Branded by some as a wind-up merchant, he’s got an edge to him which just adds to the complexity of him as a player and he must be a nightmare to play against both for that and the quality he possesses. With extra responsibility sure to be handed to him in the absence of Albert Kelly and Marc Sneyd, he’s got everything in his locker to carry the Hull team forward. Could England honours be on the horizon by the end of this season?
Players must take responsibility as officiating improvements will take time
Though the players do have to take responsibility for a lot of things that are going on at the moment, there are issues with the officiating in rugby league. A lack of numbers and experience mean its an unenviable task for all referees, who are having to be put under pressure of big games so early in their careers. The problem is there isn’t an overnight solution. The fact opinion is split on Twitter on match nights goes to show how difficult it is for referees to make calls on subjective incidents, but the inconsistency of decisions and the over-reliance on the video referee is becoming an almost constant backdrop to every game. How can the game try and grow successfully when it is carrying these issues?
We love a bit of biff really
Hull ended the game with nine men and there can’t be many instances of that happening, certainly in recent memory. The game got ugly in the final quarter, but ultimately a perfect game of rugby league doesn’t exist. Sure there was niggle and incidents, but given the nature of the sport that’s to be expected. It provided far more talking points than otherwise, and though Lee Radford apologised at the end of the game for the way it turned out, we shouldn’t be ashamed when a game takes a turn like that.
Less is more
By the end of the game, there were nearly more Sky Sports commentators at the game than Hull players on the pitch. Sky have of course done great things for Super League, but the sheer number of people they have chipping in during games is unnecessary, all fighting to give their opinion on the same incident. The constant mistakes over the name of Luke Briscoe, who was called virtually everything else but his name in the first 20 minutes, were frustrating too.
What did you think of last night’s game? Let us know in the comments below.