Andy Last has expressed both his disappointment and pride following last night’s Betfred Super League play-off semi-final defeat to Wigan Warriors at the DW Stadium.
Hull’s 2020 season came to an end at the hands of the League Leaders Shield winners, falling agonisingly short of a place in next week’s Grand Final at the KCOM Stadium, going down 29-2 to Adrian Lam’s side.
Speaking after the game, Last said: “I’m really disappointed with the result. You have to give credit to Wigan. They have a great ability to frustrate you and knock you out of your rhythm with the way they go about defending.
“We had some harsh calls, particularly where Josh Griffin gets done for patting someone on the head in an emotional semi-final; that was a big swing as we had built some pressure there. Unfortunately they went down our end and scored. In the second-half, they suffocated our field position, and we made a few errors.
He added: “We had some emotional and intent in us, especially during that opening 25 minutes – I thought we was good enough to post the first score from an attacking point of view. But we just didn’t quite get into our stride, and we didn’t get the bounce of the ball on occasions.
“We knew it was a big ask coming here in a semi-final in their first game here since lockdown. The effort was certainly there but some of that composure just wasn’t there in the key moments for us.
“There were a lot of busted bodies and a few years being shed in the changing rooms/ It’s a little bit of a missed opportunity but it just wasn’t to be on the night.”
However, Last described his pride in the playing group having faced plenty of adversity throughout the 2020 campaign.
“I’m really proud of the way the team is right now – we have shown a huge improvement in performance and a level of passion, intent and energy over the last six weeks, and it was evident again tonight. Our execution and composure was off in key periods, but the group and the staff have worked tirelessly behind the scenes this year.
“You can’t put into words how hard this year has been with what we have had to face on a weekly basis, from Covid-19 outbreaks, late team changes, twenty four hour notice to play a game – it has been a strange old season and I’m just disappointed that we couldn’t get over the line.
“We have room to grow, and this group are willing. They’re not the complete package yet, but they have a great mentality to step up to that next level – the level and match where Wigan and St Helens have been playing at over the last few years.
“Wigan were fresh and they play in these big games every single year, and that showed. Tonight was an advertisement for us that there is still some work for us to do to be able to match the level that Wigan are at – we ran our blood to water, but in the big games it just comes down to a few big plays. We have some lessons to learn and we’ll be better for that eighty minutes.”