LEE RADFORD has a way with words which often brings levity even following the most mundane rugby league games.
That trait was certainly much-needed yesterday.
The encounter between his Hull FC side and an increasingly troubled Wakefield Trinity was, undoubtedly, a particularly mundane affair so the 40-year-old’s post-match interjections were heartily welcomed.
Having witnessed countless errors in a mistake-ridden 80 minutes – the East Yorkshire club made slightly fewer than dire opponents who are firmly embroiled in a relegation fight – Radford conceded there had been little to cheer.
Yet, when reminded of the fact his side are now up to joint-second in Super League with Warrington Wolves, replacing Wigan Warriors in third, he admitted: “It is a massive win.
“We know we’ve got to finish two points above anyone we’re level with because of our poor points difference.
“We’re still in there and still swinging. Nobody is giving us a mention.
“Everybody is saying about Wigan coming and making a charge for it and we’re like the fart in the room at the minute. I quite like that.”
Some well-timed light relief.
There was a number of reasons for the paucity of decent football; Radford was not pleased with referee Liam Moore’s officiating of the ruck and 10 metres although that had nothing to do with Hull’s Mark Minichiello spilling the kick-off into touch, a glaring error that set the tone for the game.
Both sides were as bad as each other early on and it came as some surprise that either kept hold of the ball long enough to muster a try as Wakefield full-back Ryan Hampshire did when he sped through direct from a scrum on halfway on 11 minutes.
But then Hull gathered themselves to take control with four tries in a devastating 11-minute spell.
Bureta Faraimo started things off, then the excellent Carlos Tuimavave intercepted Hampshire’s pass to score from 70 metres out before Marc Sneyd stepped over shortly after his second 40/20 kick.
Next, Fijian winger Ratu Naulago grabbed the first of his brace after Jake Connor opted to run on the last play and Tuimavave provuided the final pass. Suddenly, they were 20-6 ahead by the half-hour mark and it would have been more if Sneyd had not missed two conversion attemps.
The hosts needed to score first in the second period but only managed to gift their opponents yet another score in the 51st minute. Morgan Escare, the Wakefield debutant on loan from Wigan, had switched to full-back having started on the wing but, like Hampshire before, gave away an intercept to Tuimavave when in prime attacking position.
The Kiwi was in no danger of going the length of the field this time and, after he offloaded to the Fijian, neither was Naulago.
Yet somehow a raft of defenders all fell off the Hull winger near centrefield as he was allowed to find some space; when that happens, people tend not to catch up.
Naulago duly romped home from 80m for Sneyd to improve.
Granted, Wakefield – who also gave a debut to on-loan Halifax prop Adam Tangata – had most of the better play thereafter, Joe Arundel crossing three minutes later after Josh Griffin coughed up coming away from his own line. Danny Brough hit a post with the conversion attempt while Sneyd was wide with a simple penalty.
Jacob Miller added another try in the 73rd minute after Bill Tupou and Hampshire – now on the left wing – combined and Brough narrowed the deficit further.
But there would be no great escape and the question remains whether Trinity – playing like a side that has now lost 11 of its last dozen games – have enough to avoid being dragged down.
They are ninth but – like Hull KR and Huddersfield Giants below – remain just two points above bottom-placed London Broncos with only four games remaining.
Admittedly, Trinity’s vastly-superior points difference is akin to a third point but, undeniably, Sunday’s trip to coach Chris Chester’s old club Hull KR is cruciual.
They should be strengthened by the addition of Chris Green, the Hull prop who was unable to debut yesterday owing to the terms of his his loan deal from FC, and George King and Anthony England are set to return from injury.
But after a fifth straight defeat Chester revealed: “We’ve banned any talk about other teams and what they’re doing around us.
“There’s been no talk about the position we’re in, because we’ve got to keep positive.
“I think one win will do it for us and the sooner we get that win the better for everybody.
“We’ve got four cup finals coming up now, and Hull KR is a really important one for us. We are fighting for our lives and in the second half we showed we want to work hard for each other, but we have got to stop having those lapses of concentration.
“They seem to be when the bench comes on. We were controlling the game but they got a bit of a lucky try and then an intercept and then they scored three unanswered tries after that.
“I thought our effort was great but we can’t afford to keep having those brain explosions.”
Wakefield Trinity: Hampshire; Jones-Bishop, Lyne, Tupou, Escare; Miller, Brough; Tanginoa, Wood, Kopczak, Kirmond, Arundel, Batchelor. Substitutes: Randell, Fifita, Tangata, Annakin.
Hull FC: Shaul; Faraimo, Griffin, Tuimavave, Naulago; Connor, Sneyd; Taylor, Houghton, Matongo, Lane, Minichiello, Ellis. Substitutes: Bowden, Fash, Washbrook, Brown.
Referee: Liam Moore (Wigan).