Hull FC face Warrington this Saturday in the first Challenge Cup semi-final at Bolton – the reward? A place at Wembley in the final. The stakes are huge.
Exceeding expectations this year, it’s the sort of occasion few predicted was within the Airlie Birds’ capability in 2019, but here they are, in the last four of rugby league’s most prestigious competition, not to mention third on the Super League ladder as we approach those final few months were dog dish aside, it really starts to matter.
And make no mistake this one matters. There’s no second chances with winner taking all, a scenario that has brought the very best out of Hull over the past four years. Hull love the cup, we don’t need to go into detail here *cough Tackle 52* and a third Wembley appearance in four years would be most welcome.
Jekyll and Hyde
Insert best Forest Gump impersonation: Life is like a box of chocolates, you never know what you’re gonna get. With Hull in 2019 that couldn’t be more apt. You want to get the pitchforks out one week and shag um the next. There’s no in-between. Hull’s attacking best though is devastating, and taking a page out of the Warrington social media book, if the slick Black and Whites hit top gear at Bolton, then it’s hard to see us getting beat.
Cos we’ve got…
Albert Kelly is back from a two week hamstring lay off, a massive boost for Hull. We can all be guilty of living in the moment, but the chicken nugget sensation’s form prior to his knock was sensational. Kelly was scoring tries for fun. He was in sublime form and practically unstoppable. He should go straight back into the side alongside Marc Sneyd, with Jake Connor moved back into the centre. That means the right edge that was havoc in Super League will be back. We’re a little moist at that thought.
Hull’s pack was identified as an area for concern ahead of the season, but with Scott Taylor, Mickey Paea, Josh Bowden, Gareth Ellis and Brad Fash all in form, it’s pretty formidable. The go forward is there. The two back rowers in Sika Manu and Mark Minichiello can still do it on their day too. If Hull are to win the forwards need to lay a platform. Mr Schofield expects them to bully Warrington. Let’s hope that’s the case.
Sneyd’s left boot
England don’t want him, but we all know how valuable he is. Marc Sneyd, the man for the big occasion with the mercurial left boot, always steps up for these games. He’s a class act, and his kicking game will be crucial if Hull are to see a return to the final. Not only that but his organisation is pivotal. Hull have played some sublime stuff this season and Sneyd has been at the forefront of that. Still to this day an under-rated talent, which given his history is complete utter madness.
The Wolves have hit some indifferent form of late. They’re finding life tough without Stefan Ratchford at full-back, with Jake Mamo and Declan Patton coming in for criticism. You could say it’s an ideal time to play them, but that’s foolish, they’ve still got Blake Austin and Daryl Clark and Hull will have to watch both.
Albert Kelly is back for Hull FC and is expected to go straight into the halves. Hull are missing Andre Savelio who has a foot injury.
Warrington are without Stefan Ratchford and Kevin Brown to injury, whereas Ryan Atkins and Ben Westwood are not selected.
Hull Squad: 1. Jamie Shaul, 2. Bureta Faraimo, 3. Carlos Tuimavave, 4. Josh Griffin, 6. Albert Kelly, 7. Marc Sneyd, 8. Scott Taylor, 9. Danny Houghton, 10. Josh Bowden, 12. Mark Minichiello, 13. Joe Westerman, 14. Jake Connor, 15. Chris Green, 20. Brad Fash, 21. Sika Manu, 22. Jordan Lane, 23. Mickey Paea, 33. Ratu Naulago, 34. Gareth Ellis.
Warrington Squad: 2. Tom Lineham, 3. Bryson Goodwin, 5. Josh Charnley, 6. Blake Austin, 8. Chris Hill, 9. Daryl Clark, 10. Mike Cooper, 11. Ben Currie, 12. Jack Hughes, 13. Ben Murdoch-Masila, 14. Jason Clark, 15. Dec Patton, 16. Lama Tasi, 17. Joe Philbin, 18. Toby King, 20. Harvey Livett, 22. Jake Mamo, 23. Matt Davis, 28. Luther Burrell.
Last Five Cup Meetings
2016: Hull 12 Warrington 10
2013: Hull 16 Warrington 12
1983: Warrington 4 Hull FC 10
1965: Warrington 7 Hull FC 4
1951: Warrington 25 Hull FC 9
Hull by ten points.
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