St Helens V Hull FC: What to expect?
The Saints will be hosting the black and whites on Friday evening and with the 19 man squads being announced, I feel it is time to have a look at what we might be in for when the two sides meet.
With August marking the start of a tough few weeks for the table toppers, the ship has seemingly been steadied with a gutsy ‘revenge’ victory over the Catalans Dragons in Perpignan. It is quite ironic that the team that began the dismal run of form might just be the same one that ended it – the circle of life, as they say.
In my opinion, the battle in France was nothing short of essential for Justin Holbrook’s men – at least in terms of morale: for both the players and fans alike. Many in the rugby league community crawled from under the floorboards to chip away at what has been an outstanding Saints team throughout the year. The poor performances of late even highlighted a vast number of turncoat supporters who abandoned the RedVee ship before it even sank.
One thing is for sure, the win was welcomed – by all Saints supporters.
Next up is Hull FC – a team that has run into monumental issues since securing themselves within the Super 8s. If anything has been proven with the end of Hull FC’s season – it is that every minute certainly does not matter. The concoction of terribly unfortunate injuries to key players and the incredibly narrow possibility they could make the top 4, equalled a team playing for absolutely nothing – at least compared to the majority of their counterparts.
Now, that for many (and me I must add), is not a viable excuse for the abysmal performances they have displayed of late. No professional team, never mind one the stature of Hull FC, should be conceding 70 and 80 points within a single 80 minutes. It’s simply unacceptable, as their chairman brutally pointed out. At the very least you’d hope the simple element of playing for the badge on their shirt would be enough to make games competitive. No one is arguing they should win every game – losing is acceptable if they perform as best as they can.
More recently, the black and whites have plugged gaping holes in their hull – as their performance against the ever improving Castleford Tigers showed. But, they are still being outclassed in practically every department, just this time in a more acceptable fashion.
So, what Hull are Saints in for when they meet? Simple answer, it is anyone’s guess. My preference is that Lee Radford’s men will come with the same attitude they displayed against the Tigers. It will be up to St Helens to decide who wins the game. As if they play even half as well as we know they can – their victory will be assured.
The surprising and noticeable amendments to Saints’ 19-man squad are that young guns James Bentley and Jack Welsby are in the running to make their first Super League appearances. The now controversial character Ben Barba also makes his return to the squad after missing out against Catalans. LMS joins the irreplaceable James Roby in missing out completely– and for the sake of entertaining rugby league in this country, here’s hoping the Saints’ skipper isn’t out for the long term.
Obviously it depends on who makes the final 17, but I suspect St Helens will just be too much for Hull FC and the win should be fairly routine. Saying that, stranger things have happened and the last thing anyone wants is complacency. If Luke Thompson leads the pack in a similar way as he did in France and if the talented Ben Barba rediscovers his best form – there will be little Hull can do to stop the RedVee.
1. Jonny Lomax, 2. Tommy Makinson, 4. Mark Percival, 6. Theo Fages, 10. Kyle Amor, 11. Zeb Taia, 12. Jon Wilkin, 14. Luke Douglas, 15. Morgan Knowles, 16. Luke Thompson, 18. Danny Richardson, 19. Regan Grace, 20. Matty Lees, 21. Jack Ashworth, 23. Ben Barba, 24. James Bentley, 25. Aaron Smith, 30. Matty Costello, 31. Jack Welsby.
1. Jamie Shaul, 2. Bureta Faraimo, 3. Carlos Tuimavave, 5. Fetuli Talanoa, 8. Scott Taylor, 9. Danny Houghton, 11. Dean Hadley, 14. Jake Connor, 16. Jordan Abdul, 17. Danny Washbrook, 20. Brad Fash, 21. Sika Manu, 22. Jez Litten, 26. Jordan Lane, 28. Hakim Miloudi, 29. Masimbaashe Matongo, 30. Cameron Scott, 35. Liam Harris, 36. Lewis Bienek.
The referee is for the clash is Chris Kendall.