Hull FC rediscover base to build on but challenge now not to let standard slip

Hull FC were improved against Leeds but there's a long way still to go.
Hull FC were improved against Leeds but there's a long way still to go. -Credit:SW Pix

Hull FC have had a torrid start to the 2024 season. It hasn't been good enough or acceptable; we all know that, but Sunday was a step in the right direction. It wasn't perfect by any stretch of the imagination, and at the end of the day, Hull still lost the game. They still have things to work on both offensively and defensively, but from where they have been and what they have served up recently, this was a stark improvement.

Hull have been way off this year, but this isn't the time or place to swing the axe. This, in comparison to the last several results, was night and day. Hull had a go. Defensively, they fronted up. There were still lapses, but there was also scramble and desperation in their performance. There was pride.

With the ball, there was more go forward as the attacking percentages were more of an even keel. Hull, led by the outstanding Herman Ese'ese, and with their young guns Lewis Martin, Jack Charles, etc, were in the contest. They showed some fight in their account, and they were competitive for it. They are all positives, and they are things that we just haven't been able to say about this side for the large majority of the season. They are refreshing things too. It's a foundation. It's something to build on.

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For the avoidance of doubt, there is a long, long, long, way still to go until this club gets back to where they aspire to be, but in the right here and now, this was a step forward. Of course, Hull still need to walk before they can run, and there's also Leeds Rhinos to factor in, whose fans made their feelings known to where they sit with their head coach. It was far from the best version of the Rhinos, but it takes nothing away from the above.

And while they showed grit and the like, Hull will know they need to ask more questions when in the opposition third of the field. Before that, they moved the ball well and got plenty of mileage into it with lots of stern contributions. However, in Leeds' 20, they were poor. They needed to show more quality and there's still a bit of zip to be found there, but that will come, particularly when Jake Trueman makes his long-awaited comeback.

For Hull, it's about the rugby league fundamentals: being able to front up, tackle, scramble, get to their kick, and complete. A lot of the current focus is on the talentless traits: the willingness to dig in, show urgency, and desperation. Hull did those things. And when they did them, the crowd responded. The gate was given as 10,505, but it was clear that plenty of paying members didn't turn up. However, the ones that did got behind their side, and every last-ditch effort or strong carry was met with appreciation.

That's the none negotiable for those in the stands, and when they get it, the result, whatever the outcome, is easier to accept. On that note, it was a game Hull could have won, and with a bit more guile, they would have. But in terms of where they are right now and the strides made in the last week or so, there's plenty to go on. The challenge now is not to let it slip; keep building, keep believing in it, and keep getting better. The only way is up.

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