Hull FC fell to a 24-10 defeat at St Helens as their three-game winning streak came to an end.
Here’s a look at some of the talking points to emerge from the clash.
A learning experience
The Black and Whites always knew they were going to be challenged at the Totally Wicked Stadium. They haven’t beaten St Helens since 2017 and having seen Kristian Woolf’s side fall out of the Challenge Cup last weekend, they were expecting a reaction.
Falling behind early will have been a point of frustration for Brett Hodgson, who knew his side would need to be at their best for the full 80 minutes, but he will have been happy with periods of the first half as FC appeared to be on top . They found holes, made meters after contact and opened the champions up on a few occasions.
Read more: Hull FC player ratings: Key men fall short on difficult night at St Helens
However, they could not reproduce that performance in the second half as a couple of sloppy defensive errors gave Saints the opportunity to click through the gears and ease home. The Black and Whites are aspiring to reach the Merseyside club’s level in the not too distant future but they were taught some tough lessons by a side who have been at the top of the tree for some time.
Saints remained intact and resolute throughout the contest, even when reduced to 12 men following the sin-binning of James Bell and they punished Hull’s mistakes almost every time. FC are on the right track, of that there is no question as they continue to build towards becoming an established top four team, but they’ve some way to go before they reach St Helens’ level.
When the team news was released at 6.30pm, Hull fans were talking about one bold decision made by the head coach. Hodgson had both his senior half-backs available to him after their respective suspensions, but he only opted to bring Josh Reynolds into the side.
That meant the club captain Luke Gale was left on the sidelines to watch on as Joe Lovodua played in the scrum-half role. FC produced a clunky performance with the ball in hand, though, and the head coach admitted he may have got it wrong in his post-match press conference.
Hodgson cleared up his decision by pointing to Gale’s recent performances in a Hull shirt, insisting he will always pick players on form. However, he did admit that in hindsight Gale may have helped Hull control the game a little more.
Expect changes next Saturday when Hull take on Wigan Warriors with the veteran set to potentially come back into the fold.
Fash to be missed
A moment of concern came as Brad Fash took a huge blow to the head inside the opening 10 minutes of the game. The forward’s head collided with Matty Lees’ shoulder as he tried to make a tackle and he was left needing medical attention on the floor.
Thankfully Fash sat up after a couple of minutes but was visibly dazed as he was helped from the field. He was taken to hospital on the night for scans and he was subsequently given the all clear, but he will miss Saturday’s clash with Wigan Warriors and his absence could be a big one for FC.
It does not get any easier
The Black and Whites must brush themselves down quickly and prepare to go again next weekend against Wigan Warriors at the MKM Stadium. On paper this game is just as difficult as the clash with Saints and Hull will need to be at their best in order to get anything from the fixture.
They’ll have a fair idea of what they need to work on after Friday night and over the next few days Hodgson will be putting a game plan together to beat Wigan, who lost to Huddersfield on Thursday night. The Warriors will be taking part in the Challenge Cup final later this month, but make no mistake, they will not be taking their eye off the ball in East Yorkshire.