Hull FC head to Leigh tomorrow needing to find a win to prevent the wheels falling off their season. That may sound pessimistic but after throwing away a win at Warrington and conceding 106 points in two subsequent home games it’s fair to say Hull have hit a bad run of form during a hectic part of the season. Games are coming at everyone thick and fast and if Hull can’t find a way out of the “big rut” they are in as Lee Radford called it then they could find themselves cut adrift from the top 4 as we head towards the 23 game split.
There was nothing good about Hull’s performance on Good Friday. It was a terrible performance at times with Leeds scoring at will as Salford had done the week before. Now it’s important to stress that James Child had just a bad a game as most of the Hull players. Unfortunately the Hull players let their frustrations towards Child show and they lost focus on the task in hand. Hull had a couple of spells of pressure in the game but their defence and discipline went missing in equal measure and Leeds took full advantage of that.
Hull head to the Leigh Sports Village to face the Centurions in a Super League match for the first time in 12 years. Leigh managed to draw with Hull in 2005 when they were last in Super League despite only picking up 5 points in the entire season. The Centurions are a different prospect nowadays though and they will form a much tougher opposition.
Despite Hull’s significant dip in form a saving grace for them is that Leigh are also enduring a poor run. The Centurions have only won three games all season and have lost their last 4 games. They were narrowly beaten 12-6 by Salford on Good Friday which could be seen as a fairly positive result despite the loss as Salford have been on fire recently as Hull found out last week. Hull have to pick themselves up and try and get the better of two teams who are desperate for a win. With the red hot Castleford Tigers the visitors to the KCOM on Sunday it is imperative Hull come away from Leigh with the two points in the bag. It doesn’t need to be pretty they just need to win!
The drubbing by Leeds was made even worse by the injuries Hull picked up in the game. Already without the extremely influential Danny Houghton Hull also lost Josh Bowden, Gareth Ellis, Fetuli Talanoa and Josh Griffin to injury on Friday. Lee Radford has been forced to put his faith in the youngsters again as Jansin Turgut, Jack Downs, Jez Litten, Brad Fash and Masi Matongo are all included in the squad along with Connor Bower who could make his first team debut.
Luckily for Hull the hectic Easter period takes it’s toll on all the teams in Super League and Leigh are also without some key players for the game. Gareth Hock was suspended for the Salford game and is now suffering with a dead leg so he will miss out again. Cory Paterson, Eloi Pellisier and Willie Tonga will all be missing for the home side which is a boost for Hull.
Where will the game be won and lost?
Defence: This aspect is pretty obvious, Hull have conceded 106 points in their last two games which is simply not good enough. Leeds and Salford cut through them with ease as Hull looked disorganised without Danny Houghton. Houghton’s importance to Hull cannot be underestimated but other players have to step up in his absence. Hull have conceded too many soft tries up the middle recently as the likes of Craig Kopczak, Mitch Garbutt and Anthony Mullally have all found themselves strolling through massive gaps in the middle of Hull’s defence to score. This happens very rarely with Houghton around but with him missing the opposition are finding it too easy to cut through Hull’s goal line defence. Hull are finding themselves scrambling too often to get the right amount of numbers on each side and they have been falling off tackles. This is all pretty basic stuff and if they can tighten their defence up they will have a much better chance of beating Leigh
Discipline: Lee Radford will have been pulling his hair out on Friday as he watched his side concede penalty after penalty. As mentioned earlier James Child didn’t help but when you have two players sin binned in one game for ill-discipline you know something is wrong. It wasn’t just typical offside or laying on penalties Hull were conceding either they were penalised at least twice for moving off the mark and that is school boy stuff. Like their defence if Hull sharpen up their discipline tomorrow they will probably come away with the win. Get the basics right!
Youngsters: Jansin Turgut, Jack Downs, Jez Litten, Brad Fash, Masi Matongo and Connor Bower are all in Lee Radford’s squad for tomorrow with at least 4 of them set to play some part in the game. They will all be getting thrown in at the deep end as it is difficult to be thrown into a team low in confidence but needs must for Lee Radford. It will be a big task for the kids but Wigan and St Helens have been giving such responsibility to their youngsters for years with some reward. A good example is Regan Grace who made a try scoring debut for St Helens as they lost to Wigan on Good Friday. Grace grasped his chance with both hands and despite being on the losing side he really stood out. Lee Radford hopes his youngsters can step in and do a similar job for Hull despite the team being under immense pressure. If the kids step up to the plate that could be the key to two points for Hull.