Hull FC face Huddersfield Giants tonight at the KCOM Stadium in their third Super 8’s game and final game before the Challenge Cup Final at Wembley next week. If Hull keep their eye on the ball tonight they are in a win-win situation. Wakefield lost last night and Leeds face St Helens tonight at Headingley meaning a win for Hull would see them 5 points clear of Wakefield and potentially 6 clear of St Helens or a point ahead of Leeds.
Huddersfield don’t have much chance of making the top four after their defeat last week but led by Danny Brough they will be keen to spoil the party for Hull tonight. The Hull players may be forgiven for thinking about Wembley next week but after last year we doubt Lee Radford will stand for that. If Hull are to climb above Leeds into second and claim a home semi-final in the playoffs this is a game they simply have to win.
The extra motivation they may need will come from the skipper, captain, leader and legend Gareth Ellis. After announcing his retirement earlier this week Ellis will be keen to end his illustrious career on a high with Hull. If they play to their strengths the double is certainly on the cards and led by Ellis a win tonight will put Hull one step closer to that. Radford is likely to go as close to full strength as possible with his team selection and that is a risk worth taking. Players may fear Injury or suspension but as Radford has said himself he can’t afford to rest players as Hull badly need the two points on offer tonight.
Where will the game be won and lost?
The key for Hull tonight is their attitude. If they are on their game they will win but if they have one eye on the Wembley arch on the horizon they may well slip up. Huddersfield in reality have little to play for after their defeat to Wigan last week but they have enough quality to act as spoilers in their remaining 5 games this season.
Hull won a closely fought game against the Giants at the KCOM a few weeks ago and a similar result tonight will suffice but Lee Radford will be hoping to see some fluency from his side ahead of the cup final next week. Players may be forgiven for fearing injuries or suspensions but the fact is Radford can’t afford to rest players and the players he selects can’t rest on their laurels. Hull badly need the two points tonight because this is one of their easier Super 8’s games and it’s one they need to win if they want a home semi final when a place at Old Trafford is at stake.
If they play with the right attitude they will come out on top tonight and with Gareth Ellis leading them with his added extra motivation it’s hard to see them slacking off.
Hull are back at full strength for tonight’s game with Jamie Shaul, Fetuli Talanoa, Mahe Fonua, Mark Minichiello and Josh Bowden all set to feature. Albert Kelly is also named but it’s expected that he will sit out this game as a precaution ahead of Wembley.
Huddersfield have made one change to their squad for this week as Leroy Cudjoe is replaced by Gene Ormsby.
Hull FC: Shaul, Fonua, Tuimavave, Griffin, Talanoa, Kelly, Sneyd, Taylor, Houghton, Watts, Minichiello, Ellis, Connor, Green, Thompson, Washbrook, Manu, Bowden, Turgut.
Huddersfield Giants: McGillvary, Gaskell, Brough, Hinchcliffe, Wakeman, Lawrence, Leeming, Ikahihifo, Ta’ai, Clough, Mason, Smith, Ormsby, Dickinson, McIntosh, Mellor, O’Brien, Turner, Rankin
Look out for the latest issue of FanaticHull Rugby on sale from the Airco Arena/Car Park entrance and West Park opposite Boot Room. Full of FC content including Wembley features and a look ahead to next year’s Australia Trip. £2