The race for the final two spots in the top four is now well and truly on. The RFL will be loving this as this year’s Super 8’s look set to be the most exciting yet since the start of the concept three years ago. It is not good for the fans of the clubs fighting for the playoff sports though. Tonight’s game is absolutely massive and unfortunately for Hull they will be going into it far from full strength.
St Helens got a last gasp win at Wakefield last night which has brought them right back into the mix and that probably means Hull will have to win two of their final three games to make the top four due to their inferior points difference.
Wigan will be coming to the KCOM Stadium gunning for revenge after three defeats to Hull this season including last months Challenge Cup Final. They were excellent at St Helens last week and look to be timing another run to Old Trafford to perfection. Hull on the other hand have stuttered in their last two games and are looking nervously over their shoulder.
The importance of this game cannot be underestimated. If Hull win they are almost certain of a top four spot but if they lose the last two games of the season will be simply must win for Hull. We all want to see FC involved in games of this magnitude so lets hope they can find a way to win tonight to make the last two weeks easier.
Where will the game be won and lost?
This game could well be won and lost from the outside backs and the bench. Hull are missing Steve Michaels, Carlos Tuimavave and Gareth Ellis tonight with big doubts hanging over the fitness of Fetuli Talanoa. Hull will be understrength in the outside backs and Wigan will look to exploit that as one of their main strengths is getting the ball wide quickly to their star backs like Oliver Gildart and Joe Burgess. Whoever starts in the backline for Hull they will have to stand up and be counted tonight.
The interchange bench could also play a pivotal role tonight. Wigan are close to full strength and will have some bulk to come off the bench to supplement their forward pack. Hull are likely to have some youngsters on the bench including young player of the year Brad Fash. Fash and others have had a brilliant season and they will need to continue that form and provide a real impact off the bench tonight to give Hull a chance.
Thanks to injuries and suspensions Hull are missing some key players tonight. Gareth Ellis and Steve Michaels are banned while Carlos Tuimavave will miss the game through injury. Thankfully Josh Griffin should return to fill a gap in the back line as will Mark Minichiello and Liam Watts.
Wigan have a virtually fully fit squad for tonight’s game with only Dominic Manfredi and Ben Flower missing.
Hull Squad: 1. Jamie Shaul, 2. Mahe Fonua, 4. Josh Griffin, 5. Fetuli Talanoa, 6. Albert Kelly, 7. Marc Sneyd, 8. Scott Taylor, 9. Danny Houghton, 10. Liam Watts, 12. Mark Minichiello, 14. Jake Connor, 16. Jordan Thompson, 17. Danny Washbrook, 21. Sika Manu, 22. Josh Bowden, 25. Jansin Turgut, 27. Jack Downs, 28. Brad Fash, 29. Masimbaashe Matongo.