Team of the Month
Airlie Birds catch the form A one hundred per cent record has ensured that Hull are Forty-20magazine’s Team of the Month for March
What a month for Hull FC. They began March at ninth in the table and ended it just a point behind leaders Huddersfield with a game in hand.
On the pitch, everything went to plan. Off it, they landed Wests Tigers and England secondrower Gareth Ellis. His signature is a statement by new owner Adam Pearson that he means business.
For the first time in a while, Hull look like fulfilling the potential they showed in winning the 2005 Challenge Cup and then reaching two other major finals. Hull were never behind at halftime and outscored their opponents 72-26 in the first half of their games. In March’s first three games against Wakefield, St Helens and Widnes, Hull’s defence kept them to ten points each, four short of Danny Tickle’s individual tally against the Vikings. His 34 points set a new
Super League record for a forward.
It was one of a number of fine displays from Tickle whose five tries and 28 goals accounted for almost half (76) of Hull’s 160-point haul.
Castleford were next for Peter Gentle’s side and the Tigers made things tricky, twice taking the lead at the Probiz Coliseum. But Hull weren’t behind long and closed the game out to win 42-28 with their 17th try in two games. Finally, cash-strapped Bradford travelled to the KC and put their financial woes behind them with an encouraging performance. The threat of bankruptcy seemed to galvanise Mick Potter’s men, who cancelled out Hull’s six-point leads three times before capitulating to a 24-18 defeat. Hull were never behind beyond the 52nd minute in any game in March.
Even so, coach Gentle stressed there was room for improvement with a tricky new month to navigate, including games against Huddersfield and Wigan and the Rovers derby. If the black and whites can come through April unscathed, then they may just go from under-achievers to genuine title contenders. Charlie Mullan
Points machine: Danny Tickle broke Super League’s forward record SWPix.com the business March results: Hull 14-10 Wakefield; St Helens 10-22 Hull; Hull 58-10 Widnes; Castleford 28-42 Hull; Hull 24-18 Bradford. Average points for: 32.0. Points against: 15.2. Tries for: 26. Tries against: 14. Goal percentage: 87.5%. Minutes in front: 264 (66%). Minutes behind: 44 (11%). Penalties for: 45. Penalties against: 32. Average metres: 1,466. This is Hull’s best start to a Super League season after eight games. In 2002 and 2004, they took 12 points from eight games. This year they took 13. April fixtures: Hull KR (H); Huddersfield (A); Huddersfield (H - Challenge Cup); Wigan (H); Challenge Cup fifth round (TBA)
6 Forty-20 April 2012 Five Drives... and a Kick
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LIFE’S A BEACH GOLD COAST ON THE WOBBLE
If rugby league could be boiled down to classic literature - and often it can - then this would be the Sorcerer’s Apprentice. Or more precisely, the Sorcerer’s Apprentices.
Michael Searle, former hooker, is our sorcerer. He conjured up a club on the Gold Coast from the ashes of failed franchises (even though the Chargers were kicked out of the premiership with money in the bank), signed a bunch of stars and took the Titans to the finals. But they are not the Apprentices who have now turned on him, no siree.
Not content with running a successful club and managing champion surfer Joel Parkinson, Searle set about building a ‘Centre of Excellence’ next to the Titans’ gleaming new stadium.
Yes, in this case apprentices - literally turned on Searle. And their bosses, who claimed hundreds of thousands in unpaid bills for work on the building. It’s the Centre Of Excellence which now had the Titans some A$25million in debt, before they sold it recently. But these are not the apprentices to which we refer, either.
Because Searle also sought to leave a lasting impression on rugby league, one that would last even longer than a Centre Of Excellence, he led the push to have an independent commission take over the running of the game in Australia, freeing it from decades of infighting and self-destruction.
This should have been the year of Searle’s greatest triumph. Instead, his kingdom appears to have been laid waste and is on the verge of complete collapse. The Commission - Searle’s real apprentices for the purposes of this tale - are on the verge of taking his team off him.
“I’m not prepared to hand over the club,” Searle recently told the Australian newspaper.
Pure gold: Titans’ Brenton Lawrence claims the ball against the Bulldogs
Phil Ward and Bob Clark - the father of Titans football manager Scott Clark and a major creditor of the property trust - are the men who have purchased the Centre Of
“We are happy that we have been able to bring some finality to the financial difficulties faced by the Titans’ Property Arm in what is also a commercially sound proposition for us,’’ Ward said in a statement issued by the club.
Clark added: “We are pleased that the sale of the CoE will allow the football club to move forward in its dealings with the Australian Rugby League Commission.”
But the sharks are circling. Not those Sharks, they’re staying put for now.
One consortium seeking to take over Searle’s licence is headed by
Walking wounded: Greg Bird looks on from the Skilled Park sidelines
Bill Rae, a wealthy businessman who had been a director of the bid team for a second Brisbane license. Another involves former players Scott Sattler and Scott Hill - who have not declared where their funds are coming from. Mat Rogers has denied he is involved, saying he supports the current administration.
The Rae involvement raises another question - how can the NRL be looking to expand into precisely the part of Australia South East Queensland - where it already has a side with severe financial difficulties?
NRL Chief Executive David Gallop and IC Chairman John Grant were in Canberra for Monday Night Football in round five and spoke candidly about plans to take the license off Searle and give it to someone else.
Gallop later insisted the sale of the Centre Of Excellence was not the cure-all some may see it as.
“If that indeed assists a move towards a viable footy club, then it’s a positive,” Gallop said. “Let me be clear. Our primary concern throughout this has been the footy club and not the building and, therefore, the extent to which this assists the level of indebtedness in the footy club is not clear to us at this stage.
April 2012 Forty-20 7