WITH games as poor as this you have to simply look for the positives.
In Hull FC’s case there was a few, namely that their three-match losing run is over and they now sit third in Super League, a top-four place secure after the regular campaign, any lingering fears of missing out disappeared.
The most pleasing aspect of this error-ridden, dull fixture, though, was the return of the Black and Whites captain Gareth Ellis after a three-month injury absence.
If it was not for him, you sense Huddersfield Giants – who had lost just once in their last seven outings – may just have had enough to nudge a victory that would realistically keep their campaign alive.
As it stands, as Rick Stone’s side failed to make the most of a late chance to snatch this dour contest, they are five points adrift of the top-four heading into the Super 8s, six if Wakefield beat St Helens tomorrow.
It would take a miracle for the Fartowners to prosper from there.
Hull, though, will be heartened by the sight of Ellis, the veteran loose forward, standing so tall during his 50 minutes of action spread out over two spells.
He certainly proved he is more than ready for the defence of their Challenge Cup when they face his former club Leeds Rhinos in the semi-final at Doncaster’s Keepmoat Stadium a week today.
That is something to cling on to for irritated Hull fans who – with the East Yorkshire club 12-10 ahead at the break – watched on as their side failed to capitalise on vast amounts of possession in a frustrating second half.
They badly lacked creative ideas and will be desperate to see Albert Kelly, the Australian half-back who has missed the last two games, return to boost hopes of back-to-back Wembley trips.
Ellis, however, was clearly keen to make his own mark having not played a Super League game since April due to a sternum injury. Just ask Ollie Roberts.
The Huddersfield second-row was clobbered by a thunderous Ellis tackle early in the game, a collision that would have left many on their knees.
Roberts did well to continue and have an impact of his own.
Nevertheless, the Hull captain had set his stall out and, with a number of trademark carries as well – legs pumping through the tackle – he helped them set up a 12-0 lead inside 22 minutes.
Ellis showed real class to set up Josh Bowden’s try, throwing a dummy with his back to the Giants line and then showing some great footwork to create the space for the prop.
Indeed, it was noticeable that Huddersfield worked their way back into the match immediately after Ellis departed on the half hour mark.
Within moments, they had conceded a penalty and their defence splintered far too easily, winger Mahe Fonua making an awful decision to allow Jordan Rankin to pick his pass to the unmarked Darnell McIntosh.
Danny Brough converted from wide out and, when Hull conceded another penalty, Huddersfield raided the opposite flank, this time Jermaine McGillvary picking up Martyn Ridyard’s pass before seeing space open up in front of him for the England international’s 16th try of the season.
Hull, though, were furious as they were adamant there was no infringement when Jake Connor was deemed to have stripped possession from Lee Gaskell to set up the chance.
Brough could not improve that second effort but it was his side who entered the break energised and suddenly emboldened.
In fairness, the visitors had not played too badly previously, despite going 12-0 down. Sebastine Ikahihifo was his usual explosive self and rapid hooker Kruise Leeming benefitted on numerous occasions from the Aucklander’s busts, surging out of dummy-half.
Unfortunately, they simply did not make the most of those gains.
Hull had struck first when Fonua broke clear, only denied by Gaskell who was fortunate not to be then yellow carded for trying to slow the play-the-ball. His penalty only delayed things, though, as Danny Houghton fed Mark Minichiello who muscled over.
Marc Sneyd slotted the first of his three goals and added his second after Bowden’s try.
They should have scored a third try when Fonua picked off Brough’s pass 10m from his own line and raced away but they failed to finish off, Bowden spilling in contact for a second time.
It offered Giants that chance to come back in and they gladly accepted. Nevertheless, they barely looked like scoring in the second period either and it was left to Sneyd to nudge Hull home with a 74th -minute penalty.
Still, that nearly ended in disaster as Huddersfield won a short re-start but Lee Radford’s side desperately hung on.
Hull FC: Shaul; Fonua, Griffin, Tuimavave, Talanoa; Connor, Sneyd; Taylor, Houghton, Watts, Minichiello, Manu, Ellis. Substitutes: Green, Washbrook, Bowden, Fash.
Huddersfield Giants: Rankin; McGillvary, Cudjoe, Gaskell, McIntosh; Brough, Ridyard; Rapira, Leeming, Ikahihifo, Roberts, Ferguson, Hinchcliffe. Substitutes: Wakeman, Ta’ai, Clough, O’Brien.
Referee: C Kendall (Huddersfield).