The Saints have endured an indifferent start to the season, so they’ll be looking for a strong response; whereas the Black and Whites of Hull will be looking to build on what was an emphatic victory last time out.
Hull FC team news and form
Hull FC are still without captain Gareth Ellis, the experienced forward is sidelined through injury so Lee Radford will look to Jordan Thompson to cover the role at loose-forward against Saints. Youngster Masi Matongo will replace the suspended Liam Watts, for another game. Meanwhile, current Steve Prescott Man of Steel Danny Houghton will make his 250th appearance.
Lee Radford has called for his side to “start strong” against Saints, knowing that a normally very good Saints outfit can fire at anytime. If Hull FC’s performance is anything like last time out, then they can be confident of getting the points. They demolished a hapless Huddersfield, and barely broke out of third gear, Marc Sneyd running the show with three tries, after Garry Schofield had a few choice words for the former Salford and Castleford half-back.
St Helens team news and form
Saints have left out Danny Richardson, the youngster was criticised in the defeat against Wakefield, somewhat unfairly. Keiron Cunningham calls up Luke Douglas, after he suffered a broken finger, Jack Ashworth and Greg Richards in place of Luke Thompson.
Cunningham blamed the ref and his young half-back partnership for the surprise defeat to Wakefield Trinity, saying they “lacked experience.” However, there was enough experience elsewhere to get the win, despite their young halves or the controversial referee call to award a penalty try in the dying moments of the game.
Many fans have pointed the finger at the Saints boss for the tactics his side play, leading to defeats against teams they are accustomed to beating comfortably. If they want to maintain their push as a play-off competing side, they need to get back on track quickly and this match gives them the perfect opportunity.
Ones to watch and where the game will be won
The last two rounds I’ve predicted Saints to lose and frankly unless the experienced players like Jon Wilkin and James Roby step up, then I see another defeat coming, possibly their heaviest yet. So for me, Wilkin and Roby are worth looking at during this encounter.
For Hull FC, I can see Danny Houghton having a big game for the Black and Whites on his big milestone appearance, and Marc Sneyd looks set to keep proving Garry Schofield wrong. The battle won’t be about the forwards but rather the ruck and whether Saints can gain proper control, which they’ve seriously lacked in the last two games.
Hull FC Squad: Bowden, Connor, Fonua, Green, Griffin, Houghton, Kelly, Manu, Matongo, Michaels, Minichiello, Shaul, Sneyd, Talanoa, Taylor, Thompson, Tuimavave, Washbrook.
St Helens Squad: Amor, Ashworth, Douglas, Fages, Knowles, Lee, McCarthy-Scarsbrook, Makinson, Morgan, Owens, Percival, Peyroux, Richards, Roby, Swift, Taia, Walker, Walmsley, Wilkin.
Prediction: Hull FC 38-12 Saints