Preview: Hull FC vs Leeds

What Hull FC served up at Huddersfield last week wasn’t good enough and vast improvements are needed to beat Leeds this week.

Of course, it was only one game and the excuses did take centre stage, but regardless of their validity, Hull’s display failed to match the defensive standards set throughout the year as Huddersfield had little trouble going through or around them to score eight tries and post 40 points on the board.

It was an undercooked squad that hadn’t trained and who were short on a few key players too, we all know that, and to see the best of Hull this year, then that can’t afford to happen too frequently.

Luckily, five players that will instantly improve the matchday line up return for the visit of the Whinos, who will be high on confidence after pushing league leaders Catalans close not once but twice in recent weeks.

Played under what should be an atmospheric and unrestricted home crowd too for the first time since March 2020, this is a massive game and one Hull simply have to win.

The first of two fixtures this weekend to be played at the recently rebranded MKM Stadium, it’s not quite do or die, but it is absolutely a make or break period in the season. A win on Thursday puts Hull in the driving seat for a play-off position but a defeat leaves the race wide open.

And with others taking the moral high ground with regards to yet more covid postponements (talk about wanting to play when it suits, as last year proves), it’s not only a perfect chance for Hull to pull away from the chasing pack, but to get close to those above them too, with both Wigan and Warrington within reach.

The stakes are huge, and there’s few bigger incentives than wanting to get one over Leeds, a big rival that need no introduction.

Having Josh Reynolds back is a big boost to do just that, and with Jake Connor still out injured, Hull need a sublime performance from their Aussie half back. That combination with Marc Sneyd must click from the off, and along with that off likely stand in fullback Connor Wynne.

Yet saying that, scoring points at Huddersfield wasn’t the biggest problem. Hull got over for five tries on the night but they put themselves under pressure with the end of their sets. It was Jekyll and Hyde, literally either a kick ending in a try or one bouncing dead for a seven tackle set. There was no in between and Hull’s kicking game must be more consistent. They need to turn the ball over on their terms and in the right areas, and if the the defensive grunt we’ve seen this year is applied, then they can start to dictate the game.

Hull’s defence was too soft at Huddersfield and they’ve got to be much tighter against a Leeds side that will never attack again as hopelessly as they did the last time the two sides met at Headingley. Hull have got to be switched on from the off, show some resilience, and display all the grit that’s earned them their plaudits this year.

Having Manu Ma’u back helps that, not to mention the workaholic Joe Cator who you’d imagine will go back to the loose man role. Both players bring energy, as does Bureta Faraimo returning on the wing.

In the Super League era, this is a fixture that has tended to bring the best out of Leeds, who love nothing more than to turn it on against Hull. Though saying that, Hull won home games against them in both 2018 and 2019 with three wins in row when travelling to Headingley as the away side. Fortune is slowly turning.

Hull will no doubt need a bit of fortune to get the win, but if they play to the standards they’ve set under Brett Hodgson this season, then it’s more than negotiable. Bring it on.

Milestones

Brad Fash will make his 100th Hull FC appearance against Leeds. Having made his debut against Castleford back in 2015, Fash has gone on to become a useful member of the squad. He gives everything every week and is the perfect foil for the likes of Ligi Sao and Chris Satae. Fittingly, a new two-year contract was announced on Wednesday night.

Marc Sneyd will make his 250th career appearance against Leeds, with 169 of those coming for Hull FC. He went over the 600 mark in last weeks defeat at Huddersfield and now boasts 602 from the tee, with 35 drop-goals putting him on 637, just 50 goals behind the record set by Mr Old Faithful himself Joe Oliver. Proper FC.

And since we’re talking about milestones, Up the Cream’s 100th issue is available on Thursday night – priced at £2. Everything from Hull in 2021, to Wembley, to the Boulevard, to being back-to-back Northern Union Champions.

Team News

Hull are still missing Jake Connor, Josh Griffin, Scott Taylor, Masimbaashe Matongo, Harvey Barron, and Jamie Shaul to injury. Andre Savelio is suspended – given three matches for landing a couple of satisfying blows on Josh Jones last week. 

However, Hull are boosted with the returns of Bureta Faraimo, Josh Reynolds, Manu Ma’u, Joe Cator, and Connor Wynne.

Leeds welcome back Zane Tetavano, but they are missing Liam Sutcliffe, Bodene Thompson, Robert Lui, Jack Broadbent, Alex Sutcliffe, and Jack Walker to injury.

Squads

Hull: 2. Bureta Faraimo, 3. Carlos Tuimavave, 5. Mahe Fonua, 6. Josh Reynolds, 7. Marc Sneyd, 9. Danny Houghton, 10. Chris Satae, 12. Manu Ma’u, 13. Ligi Sao, 14. Jordan Johnstone, 15. Joe Cator, 16. Jordan Lane, 17. Brad Fash, 19. Ben McNamara, 20. Jack Brown, 21. Adam Swift, 22. Josh Bowden, 23. Connor Wynne, 24. Cameron Scott, 27. Mitieli Vulikijapani, 30. Jack Logan.

Leeds: 2. Tom Briscoe, 3. Harry Newman, 4. Konrad Hurrell, 5. Ash Handley, 7. Luke Gale, 8. Mikolaj Oledzki, 9. Kruise Leeming, 10. Matt Prior, 11. Alex Mellor, 12. Rhyse Martin, 13. Zane Tetevano, 14. Brad Dwyer, 16. Richard Myler, 17. Cameron Smith, 18. Tom Holroyd, 19. King Vuniyayawa, 22. Sam Walters, 23. Callum McLelland, 24. Luke Briscoe, 25. James Donaldson, 26. Jarrod O’Connor.

Super League Head to Head

Played 56 – Hull wins 16 – Leeds wins 39 – Draws 1

Last Five Meetings

2021: Leeds 12 Hull 18

2020: Hull 22 Leeds 40 (at Headingley)

2020: Leeds 4 Hull 30

2019: Leeds 22 Hull 26

2019: Hull 34 Leeds 10

Predictions

Hull by four points. Any win will do territory.

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About Dan Tomlinson 1749 Articles
Editor of Up the Cream. Once upon a time I looked like my profile pic.

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