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MATCH PREVIEW - Saints Vs. Hull FC - by Stephen07

Saints will look to build on their first win of the 2013 season when they entertain Hull FC at Langtree Park on Friday (February 15, kick-off 8.00).

Stephen Orford reports for RedVee.Net



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If Saints have had a turbulent start to the year then Hull's start to Super League XVIII can hardly be accused of being uneventful……

 
Saints will look to build on their first win of the 2013 season when they entertain Hull FC at Langtree Park on Friday (February 15, kick-off 8.00).

Nathan Brown's men recovered from the jolt of an opening day home drubbing by Huddersfield Giants by scrapping (at times literally) to a narrow 16-4 win against Widnes Vikings at the Stobart Stadium on Sunday (February 10). It wasn't pretty, and the game turned on Ben Cross' red card for a high shot on Paul Wellens aswell as the the sin-binning of Jon Clarke for his part in the bout of handbags which followed.

Wellens is sufficiently recovered to take his place in the squad, but the same cannot be said for Lance Hohaia and Josh Perry. The pair picked up knocks in the win over Denis Betts' side and miss out, but the side could be boosted by the return of the talismanic James Roby. The England hooker was withdrawn from the matchday squad to face Widnes due to a foot problem, but retains his place in the 19-man party for the visit of Peter Gentle's men. Also included are Ade Gardner and Anthony Walker, both of whom wore Whitehaven colours last weekend thanks to the much talked about dual registration scheme.

Joe Greenwood figured off the bench for Saints last week and looks in line to see action again thanks to Perry's absence. Brown also has the option of pushing Tony Puletua to the front row, or promoting Louis McCarthy-Scarsbrook from the bench also. Alex Walmsley may also feature after being included for the first time since his move from Batley, with whom he remains on dual registration New boys Willie Manu and Jordan Turner have had varying degrees of success in trying to settle in at Langtree Park, but both should be excited about the prospect of coming up against old pals.

If Saints have had a turbulent start to the year then Hull's start to Super League XVIII can hardly be accused of being uneventful. The much trumpted arrival of Gareth Ellis from Wests Tigers was muffled by the former Leeds man's foot injury sustained in the warm-up ahead of their first outing at Headingley. Then following the 36-6 caning which ensued, their home clash with Bradford Bulls was postponed for two days due to travel chaos on the M62 last Friday (February 8). Yet when the game was played it was the black and whites who came out on top 28-12, with new signing Daniel Holdsworth prominent and Aussie half-back Brett Seymour conspicuous by his absence. Seymour makes the 19 for the trip west, but it will be interesting to see whether he makes the final cut on the day or whether Gentle decides to stick with club stalwart Richard Horne in the half-back position.

The Airlie Birds are making their second visit to Langtree Park having recorded a 22-10 success there last March. Seymour was pivotal in that victory, but it was another Aussie Wade McKinnon whose two tries proved the difference on the night. Overall, Saints have 23 Super League victories over the men from the KC Stadium in 35 previous meetings, with Hull earning maximum points on 10 occasions and two matches drawn.

Early season form is always notoriously difficult to predict, and Saints have yet to turn Langtree Park into the fortress that Knowsley Road once was. Teams who once feared coming to St.Helens seem now to somehow relish it, as 2012 home defeats by not only Hull FC but Catalan Dragons, Wigan, Warrington and now this season's hammering by Huddersfield demonstrate. All of which gives Hull more than a reasonable shout of coming out on top in this one, as Brown continues his quest to build a side capable of challenging for top honours.

Squads:

1. Paul Wellens, 2. Ade Gardner, 3. Jordan Turner, 4. Sia Soliola, 5. Francis Meli, 7. Jonny Lomax, 9. James Roby, 10. Louie McCarthy-Scarsbrook, 11. Tony Puletua, 12. Jon Wilkin, 13. Willie Manu, 14. Anthony Laffranchi, 15. Mark Flanagan, 19. Josh Jones, 20. Lee Gaskell, 21. Tommy Makinson, 24. Joe Greenwood, 25. Alex Walmsley, 27. Anthony Walker.

1. Shannon McDonnell, 2. Jason Crookes, 3. Joe Arundel, 4. Kirk Yeaman, 5. Tom Briscoe, 6. Daniel Holdsworth, 7. Brett Seymour, 8. Mark O'Meley, 9. Danny Houghton, 10. Andy Lynch, 13. Joe Westerman, 14. Richard Whiting, 15. Ben Galea, 16. Richard Horne, 19. Jay Pitts, 20. Paul Johnson, 21. Chris Green, 23. Ben Crooks, 33. Aaron Heremaia.

Referee: Ben Thaler



Catch up with more from Stephen Orford at www.steorfordonsaints.blogspot.com.

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