Sean Long proved again that he still makes his team tick, when Hull made it three wins from their last four Super League games at the weekend. Castleford’s half time lead soon became a distant memory with 24 unanswered points from the black and whites.
Long, one of a trio of experienced Hull players – together with Craig Fitzgibbon and Danny Tickle – back for only their second game after spells on the sidelines, proved to be the spark that Hull needed. During the trio’s absence, Hull had been beaten by Leeds, mauled by a resurgent Harlequins, and spluttered to a narrow victory over a struggling Wakefield side. The three men add a significant amount of talent to the Hull side, without whom they often look like a bottom four team, instead of a top four one; lacking creativity, poise and guile, amongst other attributes.
Long was instrumental in Hull’s first two tries, orchestrating moves that saw Kirk Yeaman and Jordan Tansey cross the line. Long scored a try himself shortly after the break, collecting a speculative pass from Ryan McGoldrick to race 60 metres to the try line, outpacing several Castleford chasers. He then had a try disallowed, before youngster Tom Briscoe scored the game-breaking try. Long’s fellow musketeer, Craig Fitzgibbon then got himself on the score sheet, before Hull’s scoring was completed by Mark O’Meley.
The third member of the band, Danny Tickle, bagged himself five conversions out of a possible six, to take himself up to sixth in the goal scoring chart. Castleford added two late tries to the three they scored in the first half, but the game had already been won.
Hull will be desperately hoping that they can keep Sean Long fit for the remainder of the season, as they look to consolidate their top four position. To do so, they will have to keep pace with in-form Leeds, who are now a single point behind them in fifth place. Their next Super League game sees them play host to the club that helped make Sean Long one of the modern greats, St Helens.
The Saints travel to Hull on the back of an impressive 68-12 victory against Hull’s neighbours, Hull KR. KR look a little one-dimensional this season, but nevertheless, Saint’s victory over them will still act as a warning to Hull, who will be looking to repeat their round one win over Long’s former team-mates.
Regardless of the result against Saints, Hull will be looking to record as many victories as possible between now and September, and put an end to their inconsistent form which has seen them fail to record more than two consecutive wins all season. A top four finish is still a definite possibility, but you have to think that were they to achieve such a target, Sean Long will have had the type of season that transforms him from cult hero to true superstar in the hearts and minds of the entire west side of Hull.