Hull FC 14 Catalans Dragons 8: Forwards lay platform for statement victory

Under pressure on the back of a series of damaging defeats, Hull FC have delivered an emphatic response over the past week.

Chris Satae celebrates his try. (Picture: SWPix.com)
Chris Satae celebrates his try. (Picture: SWPix.com)

The Black and Whites were far from crisis point but questions were being asked after Super League defeats to Wigan Warriors and Hull KR either side of a Challenge Cup exit at the hands of Huddersfield Giants.

It was a big test of Hull's character given the way they capitulated at the end of the 2021 season and Brett Hodgson will be delighted with the way they have responded.

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Hodgson's men steadied themselves with a hard-fought win over Warrington Wolves and backed it up with a professional performance to see off the Dragons.

Hull FC congratulate Chris Satae. (Picture: SWPix.com)

Hull were urged to be patient and play the long game in the wake of a skittish showing at Craven Park and that is exactly what they did on Sunday evening.

The 14-8 win owed as much to resolute defending as the two tries from Jordan Lane and Chris Satae, with the FC pack outstanding.

It represented a statement victory for the Black and Whites against last year's beaten Grand Finalists, one that takes Hodgson's men up to fourth place in the Super League table and within two points of Catalans.

The sides went set for set in the early stages with the forward packs getting a good look at one another.

Jordan Lane is mobbed after scoring the opening try. (Picture: SWPix.com)

Indeed, the first break in play came in the 11th minute when Jake Connor's cross-field kick forced a drop-out.

The subsequent chance came to nothing but the Black and Whites did not have to wait too much longer for their first points of the night.

Danny Houghton went scheming from dummy-half close to the Catalans tryline and popped the ball to Lane who came back on the angle scanning for a lazy defender and found one to score under the sticks.

Connor added the extras from in front to give Hull a 6-0 lead, a reward for winning the forward battle in the opening quarter.

Josh Reynolds tries to find a hole in the Catalans defence. (Picture: SWPix.com)

It took the Dragons 24 minutes to creep inside the home side's 20 and Darnell McIntosh ensured it was only a fleeting visit with a perfectly timed tackle on Matthieu Laguerre on the last.

But the Hull winger was helpless to prevent Fouad Yaha touching down moments later after seeing Josh Drinkwater's grubber kick run away from him.

That was as good as it got for the Dragons in the first half with the hosts quickly reasserting their control.

On the back foot after Mitieli Vulikijapani poked his nose through the line, the last thing the Catalans defence would have wanted to see was Satae charging towards them.

Hull FC get to grips with Sam Kasiano. (Picture: SWPix.com)

The hulking prop is unstoppable when he gets up a head of steam close to the tryline, as Ben Garcia, Arthur Mourgue and Tyrone May can testify to after being reduced to spectators in the 33rd minute.

Satae's powerful finish was converted by Connor and Hull were in control at 12-4.

The Dragons were up against it when they lost Drinkwater to injury and found themselves 10 points behind at the break courtesy of a Connor penalty following a ruck infringement.

After seeing his side nail his game plan in the opening 40 minutes, Hodgson would have called for more of the same during the interval.

Hull continued to play with control, one moment aside when McIntosh gave away a needless penalty following a spat with May.

The Black and Whites got a look at the Dragons' line after the visitors failed to deal with a Josh Reynolds kick but they were unable to carve out an opportunity, a theme of the second half.

There was seemingly no threat of a Catalans comeback as the game entered the closing stages, that was until Connor made two errors in quick succession.

The Dragons were unable to make the most of the first opportunity but Connor's next mistake was punished.

After the full-back failed to claim a kick above his head and was trapped in his in-goal area, Mitchell Pearce twisted and turned his way over from the resultant drop-out.

Mourgue missed a relatively straightforward kick to leave Catalans 14-8 behind with 12 minutes to go, representing something of a let-off for Hull.

Another error by Connor - this time a forward pass - invited more pressure but the Black and Whites survived and had the chance to put the game to bed when they were awarded a penalty for interference.

Connor opted to go for goal from just inside the Dragons' half only to see his attempt fall short, giving Catalans one more chance from deep.

But Hull held their nerve to inflict only a third defeat of the year on Steve McNamara's side.

Hull FC: Connor, McIntosh, Tuimavave, Vulikijapani, Shaul, Reynolds, Lovodua, Sao, Houghton, Evans, Ma'u, Lane, Fash.

Substitutes: Satae, Brown, Johnstone, Taylor.

Catalans: Mourgue, Davies, Laguerre, May, Yaha, Pearce, Drinkwater, Dudson, McIlorum, Napa, Whitley, Jullien, Garcia.

Substitutes: Da Costa, Seguier, Goudemand, Kasiano.

Referee: J Child.