The Debrief: Ian Watson remains under pressure, Hull FC improving, Injuries aplenty sustained

Ben Olawumi
Ian Watson

Ian Watson, Huddersfield Giants' head coach

Huddersfield beat Hull FC 24-18 at the John Smith’s Stadium on Friday evening, with the Giants moving up a place in the Super League table to 7th, at least temporarily.

Ian Watson’s side have leapfrogged Leeds Rhinos on points difference, but Rohan Smith’s side take on Castleford Tigers at Headingley on Saturday afternoon, and would reclaim 7th spot with a win of their own.

The Round 13 clash wasn’t exactly a thriller, but we’ve picked out some talking points, and this is The Debrief…

Ian Watson remains under pressure

All the talk around Huddersfield prior to this game centred on head coach Watson and the pressure he’s under at the minute given they’d lost six games in a row heading into Round 13, including a humiliation in the Challenge Cup semi-final against Warrington Wolves.

In his pre-match press conference ahead of Hull’s visit, Watson batted off the criticism that he’d received, essentially saying he was happy with where his side were at in terms of their journey under his tutelage.

Whether the hierarchy at the club are remains to be seen, but Huddersfield didn’t perform anywhere near well enough on Friday night to warrant the pressure on Watson being relieved with a pretty bland showing. Watching the Giants, you can see why questions are being asked of their chief.

Olly Russell a welcome return

Half-back Russell couldn’t buy a spot in the Giants’ line-up until last week, returning against Leigh Leopards after nine games acting as the unused 18th man, including that Challenge Cup semi-final defeat.

The situation became dire enough that a loan move away from the club was very much on the cards, but having been handed a lifeline, he’s been a welcome addition into Watson’s side.

On top of everything he brings in-game, the playmaker was quality with the boot in the first half in particular, sticking a penalty over from 40 metres out with less than a minute remaining before the break to make it a two-score game.

Hull FC improving

Everyone has rightly criticised Hull heavily this year, us included, but over the last couple of weeks we have seen at least some improvement from the Airlie Birds.

Whether or not it has had anything to do with it, we don’t know, but a slight upturn in form seems to have come after the announcement of John Cartwright’s appointment from 2025.

Results haven’t come, at least not yet, but there are certainly areas where you can pinpoint improvement. Compare the defeat at London Broncos just a few weeks ago to the showings last week at Castleford and here against Huddersfield, and that says it all.

Logan Moy a potential star in the making

If there’s one positive in a woeful season for FC, it’s been the young lads who interim boss Simon Grix has been able to hand opportunities to.

One of those, Logan Moy, appears to be a really bright spark and looks like he could be a star in the making having scored his first try for the club. Barrie McDermott singled the full-back out for praise at various points in Friday night’s defeat, and we’d agree with what the Sky Sports co-commentator had to say.

At 18, the Black & Whites young gun has a remarkable nous of being in the right place at the right time, particularly in defence under the high ball. This was just his fifth senior appearance, but he’s one to watch, for sure. Hull have already given him a three-year deal, too, which shows you how much they wanted to keep hold of him.

Injuries aplenty sustained

Between the two sides, there were three notable injuries sustained and that’s not including Hull loanee Tiaki Chan, who came through a Head Injury Assessment unscathed.

FC team-mate Harvey Barron – one of three youngsters to pen new deals at the club earlier this week – failed a HIA, with Liam Sutcliffe pulling his hamstring.

In the Giants’ camp, Leroy Cudjoe was also forced off with a groin issue.