Despite one minor blip at home to Catalans it’s safe to say Hull FC have had a great start to the season. They currently sit second on points difference behind the pace setters Castleford and came away from the DW Stadium with a precious two points last week. With four wins in a row the black and whites are starting to lay the foundations of a regular season akin to 2016 when they topped the pile after the first 23 rounds. Bigger challenges lie ahead though this season starting with a testing month coming up.
Starting on Saturday at Warrington Lee Radford’s men have 6 games to play in April. This represents over a quarter of the regular season so success or failure this month may well give an indication of how Hull will ultimately go this season.
Hull haven’t been given an easy set of fixtures this month as they start at Warrington on Saturday. Now everyone will be thinking this should be a walkover. As Leeds did last season the Wolves have looked a pale reflection of the side that won the League Leaders Shield and played in both major finals last season. They have lost all 6 games and were hammered at St Helens last week. The major task for Lee Radford this week will be to make sure his players are wary of the “wounded animal” and that they go into the game with the right attitude. Play to their potential and replicate the first 50 minutes from the Wigan game last week for the full 80 minutes and they will more than likely win comfortably but if they go into the game expecting an easy ride they may well come unstuck.
After Warrington the Black and Whites are back at the KCOM for back to back home games with Salford and Leeds. Now Salford at home is a game any top side should be looking to win but the Red Devils are a bit of a different animal this season. Ian Watson has his side playing as a cohesive unit and it is paying off with the Red Devils being the only team to defeat Castleford so far this season. The pressure of having Todd Carney in the squad is bringing the best out of Robert Lui and Michael Dobson so they are a dangerous side to come up against. Hull should come out on top but it will be a tough test.
Next up will be Leeds on Good Friday. Every Hull FC fan knows we have an absolutely shocking record against the Rhinos and even last season when they were in meltdown they still managed to beat Hull twice. Hull have to realise Leeds are not the side they once were and although they have picked up recently they were absolutely battered by Castleford when they went there so Hull have to get history out of their heads and go into the game believing they can topple to Rhinos. What a start to the Easter weekend that would be!
The second half of the Easter double header sees Hull travel to Super League new boys Leigh Centurions. Like Salford the Centurions have started this season better than many expected. They are also looking good at home having already defeated Warrington, Huddersfield and St Helens at the Leigh Sports Village this season. Again this is a game Hull will be expected to win but the second game of the Easter weekend is often a lottery. Hull are hoping to utilise a Cryo Chamber to aid their recovery over the busy Easter period after doing so last season helped them massively as they won all 3 games over Easter.
The acid test for Hull follows the Easter weekend. They welcome the Castleford Tigers to the KCOM Stadium. As it stands now the fixture is 2nd v 1st in the Super League season and Lee Radford will be hoping his side are still in the top two when this game rolls around. Castleford have assembled a fantastic attacking team this season and have been blowing teams away with ease. The way they demolished Leeds was eye opening and they do look the real deal so far. They haven’t met a defence as fierce as Hull’s yet though and that is why this game will be so intriguing. The best attack in the league against arguably the best defence. Something will have to give and hopefully Hull can come out on top. That would be a massive statement to the rest of Super League and would give Hull’s players belief they can stop anyone this season.
The month is bookended with the reverse fixture with Warrington as this time the Wolves head across the Pennines to visit the KCOM. Now it’s safe to assume that Warrington will have picked up some form by then but if Hull have a good month up to this point they will be confident of ending the gruelling, action packed month on a high.
If Hull get April right they will have gone a long way towards cementing a top 4 spot for the rest of the season and will be brimming in confidence for the months to come.