Hull (A) – Round 21 Match Preview Phil Jones 4th July 2019 2019 Match Previews, 2019 Season Hull FC v Saints – Round 21 Match preview After a brutal game against Warrington last Friday in which Saints came out on top 21-10, we travel to Humberside to take on 3rd place Hull in another tough encounter. Last game review Friday’s performance against Warrington wasn’t perfect and in the 1st half we were on the back foot for most of it. Warrington’s forwards came out determined, looking to make a statement and to show the league leaders that they were as good, if not better than us. Our forwards have tended to get on top of teams early in games and blow teams off the park but for the 1st time this year it didn’t happen like that, which is why this victory feels significant and shows that we are adaptable. You can’t always be at your best and with ball in hand, we were very flat for most of the game, but we were clinical when we needed to be and took our chances. Our defence was outstanding all game despite the pressure Warrington put on us, yet we didn’t crack, we stayed calm and we defended resolutely. As the game wore on, the forwards started to get on top and show their fitness, patience and quality. Warrington tried to rattle Walmsley and Thompson in their opening spell, but they stuck to the task and won the game for us in the final quarter. Psychologically this was a significant win for me, as Warrington threw everything at us but couldn’t break us. Our opponents Hull are the ultimate Jekyll and Hyde team this season. Over the Easter period they put fifty points on Hull KR and beat Wakefield comfortably whilst also losing to us by sixty points and by 37-6 at home to Catalans. They also lost to Huddersfield by more than fifty points at Magic weekend and then beat Catalans by fifty points in the Cup the week after. The Catalans Cup result did spark a run of four successive wins before they suffered an 18-10 defeat to derby rivals Hull KR last week but their season up until that point had been very inconsistent. You just don’t know what you are going to get with them on a week to week basis, which must be head scratching for coach Lee Radford. Their good recent run of results is largely down to consistent team selection. They now have their key players available – Sneyd, Connor and Kelly. They also have some of the injured pack men back which has helped them gain some dominance in games. Hull are a very dangerous side on their day and they are one of the few teams I feel can get on top of us when they are in top form. They caused us big problems in the Cup game last season and they have been a bit of a thorn in our side over the years, especially at the KCOM Stadium. The squads Hull FC Jamie Shaul, Bureta Faraimo, Carlos Tuimavave, Josh Griffin, Albert Kelly, Marc Sneyd, Scott Taylor, Danny Houghton, Josh Bowden, Mark Minichiello, Joe Westerman, Jake Connor, Chris Green, Brad Fash, Sika Manu, Mickey Paea, Ratu Naulago, Gareth Ellis, Andre Savelio. St Helens Jonny Lomax, Tommy Makinson, Kevin Naiqama, Mark Percival, Regan Grace, Theo Fages, Alex Walmsley, Luke Thompson, Joseph Paulo, Louie McCarthy-Scarsbrook Morgan Knowles, Kyle Amor, Dom Peyroux, Adam Swift, Matty Lees, Jack Ashworth, James Bentley, Lachlan Coote, Matty Costello. Aaron Smith misses out for Saints which means James Bentley will step in at hooker and you would imagine Jack Ashworth will take Bentley’s place on the bench. Adam Swift is also in the 19 and may get a shot if Holbrook decides to rest one of the backs. Zeb Taia is still five weeks away and James Roby is another week or two away from returning to action. This is arguably Hull’s strongest squad of the season, so they will be going all guns blazing for the win. Head to Head Last 6 games – Saints 5 wins, Hull 1 win. Last meeting – St Helens 62 -16 Hull FC, Totally Wicked Stadium, Att. 11,268. Our recent record against Hull is excellent having won the last five including a crushing 62-16 defeat of Hull at Easter this year. The only defeat to Hull in that sequence of six was back in 2017 when Hull beat us 8-6 in the Super 8’s. Saints will be eager to continue that good form against Hull and will also be looking to retain their eight-point lead at the top of the table. Hull are still fighting for a Play Off spot and whilst they sit in 3rd currently, Wigan and Castleford are closing the gap and therefore know they need pick up points. Key battles Jonny Lomax v Jake Connor. I’m guessing Connor will line up at 6 so this may be a wasted comparison if he lines up at Centre, but both will play key roles on Friday. Lomax is in sensational form and picked up the MOM vote on Friday at Warrington. His kick chase and big hit dislodged the ball from Mamo’s hands on Friday and led to Luke Thompson’s key try and he also made the break in the lead up to Percival’s try. Jake Connor is a very talented player, on his day he’s as good as anybody in SL. How he didn’t pick up the MOM award against Castleford a few weeks back I don’t know and he’s one of the few Hull players that can really scare teams and cause problems with his unorthodox style. Luke Thompson v Scott Taylor. The two big front rowers will be key and following his great display on Friday, Thompson looks back to his best after his recent injury. His try tipped the scales in our favour last week and he will be looking to get on top of a good Hull pack. Taylor is a monster in Hull’s big pack and carries a lot of the go forward Hull have. Saints know they will have to get on top of him especially, if they are to come away with the points. Prediction Hull will be desperate to bounce back after defeat to their rivals Hull KR, so in that respect it is a bad time to play Hull. Saints picked up another injury to hooker Aaron Smith that has left us short, but this Saints side is made of solid stuff this year. Jack Ashworth will freshen up the pack and I predict a narrow Saints win. Saints by 8.