Preview: St Helens vs Hull FC

After turning a corner with three solid home wins, Hull FC start the twelfth round of Super League in fourth place.

It’s by no fluke either. Winning seven of their opening eleven league games, Hull have gone back to basics with a solid go-forward and completion rate.

Led superbly by the likes of Ligi Sao and Manu Ma’u, not to mention a handful of outstanding young players, Hull have been going quietly about their business whilst others around them implode.

It’s been fun to watch, and after a bleak Derby and a couple of meltdowns, they are certainly back on track as we approach the half way stage of 2022.

Fourth. That’s dizzy height territory given what everyone predicted for Hull this year, and it’s pretty remarkable when you consider all the disruption this side have had to face.

Most of that has come through seven games worth of suspensions for club captain and main half back Luke Gale, but that’s not even the half of it with Josh Reynolds, Kane Evans, Scott Taylor, Carlos Tuimavave, and Josh Griffin all spending significant time in the stands.

There’s been season ending injuries for Joe Cator and Andre Savelio too, but Hull haven’t let it faze them. 

Sure, there is a growing reality that Hull have been better without some of their ‘names’ this year, but facts are facts, and when you consider salary cap space, that’s a fair chunk of it missing.

Instead, Hull have played unwanted players in Jordan Johnstone and Josh Bowden, whilst using the likes of Jamie Shaul on the wing, and unleashing Joe Lovodua to practically every position on the field.

Additionally, Hull have had to field either a teenager or hooker in the halves alongside said Lovodua, with the likes of Brad Fash staring in the middle, the recently re-signed Connor Wynne out wide, and the outstanding Jack Brown ever present.

Amongst the disruption, it’s youth that is the direction at Hull at the moment, and it’s youth that has come to the fore. It’s great to see.

Let’s not forget 18-year-old hooker Denive Balmforth too who made a try scoring debut last time out.

So yeah, all things considered, and especially given that Hull weren’t supposed to be great shakes this year, it’s been a satisfactory start to say the least.

Of course, and with senior players back and selection headaches for Brett Hodgson to come, it’s now about kicking on and not falling by the wayside, something Hull did last season after a positive start.

Hull fans know how quick things can change. We know all the cliches – Jekyll and Hyde, feast or famine, consistently inconsistent. The challenge for this side is to find some middle ground.

Going to the home of Super League’s threepeat champions St Helens, it will be interesting to see how far they have come.

This, a Friday night clash in front of the cameras, will be a good measure of where Hull are at.

If they stick to the same processes and systems of their last three victories, then they have a chance at least.

A chance would be a fine thing against an opponent Hull have lost to the last dozen times they’ve met.

Let’s get there out there now. St Helens are nothing short of sublime and Hull will need to be pretty much perfect to beat them.

Completion wise, they’ve been just that recently. Finishing their sets in the corners, they’ve been brutal, getting their defence right as a monstrous pack of forwards get a roll on.

It’s that recipe that has to continue here but against a quality opposition who are pass masters when it comes to speed and intensity, it also has to go up another level.

We’re talking a season best performance here to get the job done.

Have Hull got it in them? We’ll soon find out.

Squads

Hull: 1. Jake Connor, 2. Adam Swift, 3. Carlos Tuimavave, 4. Josh Griffin, 5. Darnell McIntosh, 6. Josh Reynolds, 7. Luke Gale, 8. Ligi Sao, 9. Danny Houghton, 10. Chris Satae, 12. Manu Ma’u, 13. Jordan Lane, 14. Joe Lovodua, 17. Brad Fash, 20. Jack Brown, 21. Jordan Johnstone, 22. Josh Bowden, 23. Connor Wynne, 27. Jacob Hookem, 29. Jamie Shaul, 30. Scott Taylor.

St Helens: 1. Jack Welsby, 2. Tommy Makinson, 4. Mark Percival, 6. Jonny Lomax, 8. Alex Walmsley, 9. James Roby, 10. Matty Lees, 11. Sione Mata’utia, 12. Joe Batchelor, 13, Morgan Knowles, 14. Joey Lussick, 15. Louie McCarthy-Scarsbrook, 16. Curtis Sironen, 17. Agnatius Paasi, 19. Jake Wingfield, 20. James Bell, 21. Josh Simm, 22. Ben Davies, 23. Konrad Hurrell, 24. Dan Norman, 30. Jumah Sambou.

Injury Front

Hull will be without Andre Savelio (knee), Joe Cator (Achilles), Kane Evans (chest), and Ben McNamara (back).

St Helens are missing Will Hopoate, Regan Grace, and Lewis Dodd.

Club Connections

Hull signed Adam Swift from St Helens ahead of the 2020 season. The speedster became a cult hero with the Black and Whites fans last season.

Louie McCarthy-Scarsbrook actually played for Hull in the 2005 Academy Grand Final.

Super League Head to Head

Played 59 – Hull wins 17 – St Helens wins 39 – Draws 3

Last Five Meetings

2022: Hull FC 6 St Helens 38

2021: Hull FC 10 St Helens 42

2021: Hull FC 18 St Helens 33 (played at Leigh Sports Village, Leigh)

2021: St Helens 34 Hull FC 16

2020: Hull FC 18 St Helens 32

Fixture

Super League Round Twelve, St Helens vs Hull FC, Langtree Park, 8pm

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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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