Magic Weekend is back as Hull FC take on Leeds at Newcastle’s magnificent St James Park this Saturday night.
It’s a must-win game for Hull, who have won just one of their last seven fixtures as their 2021 season has stuttered almost to the point of no return.
But despite the rancid run, a play-off finish is still achievable in theory, although Hull will need a miracle to make it a reality.
They were abysmal at Salford on Monday, and not much better at home to Castleford last Thursday.
Game management was poor and Hull need to concentrate on what was working for them earlier in the season before they even think about victory.
Their energy levels are nowhere near what they were in the early months, whereas their professionalism and attitude has took a turn for the worse too.
Hull weren’t sparkling in those early rounds, but they were full of grit and determination. They showed a lot of fight and they were hard to break down. They were practically error free too and thus they completed well, with everything based off their defence. The team has been a shadow of their former self recently, and Hull need them basics back.
The manner of Hull’s defeat at Salford was disgusting and there’s some wrongs to be righted up in the Toon, which once again (and rightly so) is the host following the rancid Anfield experiment.
A big crowd will back Hull up in Newcastle, and they’ll make their feelings known if Hull find themselves getting beat by an opposition who want it more. Salford wanted it more last Monday, and again it was the manner of defeat that wound many up more than anything. Hull got out enthused, it’s as simple as that.
Of course, Hull’s problems have been well-documented by those who refuse to bury their head in the sand, but despite all the woe there is still something in them.
Yes we all know the need for a new hooking direction, forward reinforcement etc etc, but Hull have one of the best players in the entire competition in Jake Connor, and they’ve got the best prop in the league in Chris Satae. Add Carlos Tuimavave, Adam Swift, Manu Ma’u and in form young gun Cameron Scott to that, and not everything is catastrophic.
Leeds are Leeds. They’ve always been a pain in the backside to Hull teams in the Super League era, but they’re far from unbeatable, even if they got the better of a poor Hull attack just a few weeks ago.
We just want to see Hull get back to doing what they did best earlier in the season, and if we get that, then we can’t complain too much, whatever the result.
The big question is, how much do this Hull side want it? We’ll soon find out.
Hull remain without Josh Griffin (Achilles), Joe Cator (Achilles), Josh Reynolds (knee) and Jack Brown (shoulder). Masimbaashe Matongo is out on loan at Bradford.
Leeds are missing Liam Sutcliffe (knee), Konrad Hurrell (foot), Luke Gale (knee), Jack Walker (foot), Mikolaj Oledzki (toe) and Alex Mellor (knee) to injury. Zane Tetevano is suspended.
Hull: 1. Jake Connor, 2. Bureta Faraimo, 3. Carlos Tuimavave, 5. Mahe Fonua, 7. Marc Sneyd, 9. Danny Houghton, 10. Chris Satae, 11. Andre Savelio, 12. Manu Ma’u, 13. Ligi Sao, 14. Jordan Johnstone, 16. Jordan Lane, 17. Brad Fash, 19. Ben McNamara, 21. Adam Swift, 22. Josh Bowden, 23. Connor Wynne, 24. Cameron Scott, 27. Mitieli Vulikijapani, 29. Jamie Shaul, 31. Aidan Burrell.
Leeds: 2. Tom Briscoe, 3. Harry Newman, 5. Ash Handley, 6. Robert Lui, 9. Kruise Leeming, 10. Matt Prior, 12. Rhyse Martin, 14. Brad Dwyer. 16. Richard Myler, 17. Cameron Smith, 18. Tom Holroyd, 19. King Vuniyayawa, 20. Bodene Thompson, 21. Alex Sutcliffe, 22. Sam Walters, 24. Luke Briscoe, 25. James Donaldson, 26. Jarrod O’Connor, 27. Jack Broadbent, 31. Morgan Gannon.
Super League Head to Head
Played 57 – Hull wins 16 – Leeds wins 40 – Draws 1
Last Five Meetings
2021: Hull 12 Leeds 22
2021: Leeds 12 Hull 18
2020: Hull 22 Leeds 40 (at Headingley)
2020: Leeds 4 Hull 30
2019: Leeds 22 Hull 26
Leeds by ten points.