Positives hard to find as Hull FC’s losing run drags on

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THERE was a ‘Junior Takeover’ at KCOM Stadium on Saturday when a handful of Hull FC’s young supporters were able to take on key matchday roles.

One fan read out the team line-ups as pitch announcer, another acted as kit man while one even got to join the coaching staff.

Hull FC's Fetuli Talanoa.

Hull FC's Fetuli Talanoa.

By the end of the game, though, coach Lee Radford may have wished he had also taken on some kids as actual players.

Certainly, some of the shambolic defending his squad delivered to throw away an all too rare victory, was redolent of an Under 8s match so they might not have done any worse.

It was painful to watch during those frenetic last few minutes as Hull slipped to a record-extending tenth successive Super League defeat.

It will require something amazing for them to avoid making that 11 when they round off a bitterly disappointing campaign at Wigan Warriors on Friday.

Maddeningly, though, it could have been so different against the Challenge Cup holders.

Jamie Shaul popped up to give them the lead for the first time when he supported Bureta Faraimo’s brilliant run from the right wing in the 71st minute.

Last year, or even earlier this season, leading 20-16 and with all the momentum following Jake Connor’s continued promptings, you would have backed Hull to close out the game.

However, amid this woeful and debilitating run of form that leaves them still without a win since the end of June, they are a fragile and all too delicate entity.

Catalans, out of sorts themselves having lost their last six Super League games around that Wembley glory, sensed they would always get another chance but they actually got two.

Hull’s right edge was dissected with alarming ease for Brayden Wiliame to saunter in and, though Lucas Albert missed the conversion attempt to leave it level, the hosts’ middle then collapsed in the very next set for Kenny Edwards to jubilantly go between the posts.

New Zealander winger Fetuli Talanoa, who scored off Connor’s fine long pass after the England international had also created a try for Brad Fash in the second period, admitted this loss was hard to take.

“It was really disappointing,” he said.

“To finally feel like we could win that game when we got ahead, it was a feeling we hadn’t felt all the way through these Super 8s.

And it was such a good feeling. It was a high. And I felt we had it.

“But then it just got taken away in the next couple of sets.

“Those tries at the end, they just ran right through us and that is another disappointing part of it all to concede like that.”

Hull were left to rue a raft of missed chances, particularly in the first half but also after Talanoa’s try when Josh Griffin broke but ignored his winger and passed infield to no one.

“That was another thing that cost us,” added Talanoa.

“But I blew a chance as well in the first half; I didn’t hear Tag (Scott Taylor) when I went through as well so I’m guilty of that.

“We just didn’t capitalise on our opportunities and we had a few of them.”

On their recent troubles, the 30-year-old conceded: “It has been really tough, probably one of the toughest situations I’ve ever been in in my career.

“You’re trying to find positives but it just gets harder and you do start doubting yourself.

“It’s hard to get that team morale but these last few weeks have been really tough.”

Ex-Hull prop Sam Moa and Lance Todd Trophy winner Tony Gigot scored for Catalans before Griffin got the hosts off the mark just before the break.

Josh Drinkwater added a penalty but, after Fash’s try, Hull fell apart again for former Hull KR winger Iain Thornley to put Dragons 16-10 ahead.

Veteran Australian Greg Bird was influential as ever for the visitors as was Kiwi second-row Edwards in those dramatic final plays.

However, Catalans loose forward Jason Baitieri could be in trouble after being put on report in the third minute for, in the words of his coach Steve McNamara, apparently “grabbing someone’s manhood.”

Hull FC: Shaul; Faraimo, Griffin, Tuimavave, Talanoa; Miloudi, Connor; Taylor, Houghton, Matongo, Lane, Washbrook, Hadley. Substitutes: Fash, Litten, Paea, Bienek.

Catalans Dragons: Gigot; Tierney, Mead, Wiliame, Thornley; Albert, Drinkwater; Maria, McIlorum, Moa, Bird, Julien, Baitieri. Substitutes: Belams, Da Costa, Edwards, Goudemand.

Referee: Marcus Griffiths (Widnes).