If you could take Hull FC’s start to 2021 and mesh it with the end Wakefield had to the season, you’d have a top four worthy season. Trinity finished the year brilliantly under new boss Willie Poching whilst Brett Hodgson’s side slipped out of the play-offs losing nine of their last 10 games including a 44-12 defeat to Wakefield in their last game of the campaign.
As this season starts, Wakefield will want to continue the momentum they generated at the end of last year whilst Hull FC will be looking for a fresh start having made a number of astute signings such as former Man of Steel Luke Gale.
With both teams desperate for those all important first two points, we’re looking at the key battles in tomorrow’s game, where the contest will be won and lost and ultimately giving you our verdict on who we think will win.
Tom Lineham v Adam Swift: In times gone by, these two tussled in St Helens-Warrington derbies at the top of the league. Now plying their trade with teams who finished in last year’s bottom half desperate to bring play-off rugby back to their sides, expect the best from both wingers tomorrow. Most likely to come up against each other down Hull’s left edge, both wingers have the ability to conjure up a magic moment to settle the game and that could also be said of Tom Johnstone and Darnell McIntosh who appear set to meet on the other edge.
Jacob Miller v Luke Gale: Two halfbacks with astute kicking games, fantastic game management and a touch of flair, the winner of this battle could steer their side to an opening round win. Last year when Leeds faced Wakefield at Belle Vue without Gale, it was clear that their lack of direction undid them as Miller bossed the game. Now at Hull FC, the former Man of Steel has the opportunity to wrestle control away from Miller. Ultimately, one half is going to dictate where the game is played and that side will likely get the win.
Matty Ashurst v Andre Savelio
Giving these halfbacks the chance to truly shine will be the forwards and that’s where I see that last of these key battles taking place as second-rowers Matty Ashurst and Andre Savelio butt heads. Two very good back-rowers who are always key to the wars in the middle of the field for their sides, the one who can get a roll on may inspire his side to victory.
Where the game will be won and lost:
Both sides have match winners especially on the wings. So, it’s very possible that someone like Tom Johnstone could take the game by the scruff of the neck and determine the result themselves. Failing that, it could very well be Luke Gale who settles this game. With World Cup ambitions, the former Rhino will be desperate to show that Leeds will miss him in 2022. Always at his best when he has with something to prove, his game management and creativity could be the difference.
However, if Wakefield can limit his impact on the game whilst also containing Hull’s daunting pack, there may be opportunities for Trinity as the game opens up later on with livewires like Liam Hood and Max Jowitt set to cause Hull problems.
This game could very well come down to where both sides are at. As aforementioned, these two sides finished last year in very different places. If they’re still in those particular moments, we could see a rerun of Trinity’s landslide win at the end of last year. However Trinity have been shocked by Featherstone in pre-season and Brett Hodgson has certainly freshened up his squad. If the new signings have the desired impact and Hull’s forwards get a roll on we could see Hull start 2022 the same way they started 2021.
Verdict: Wakefield 20-30 Hull FC