Hull FC host Catalans in a huge Challenge Cup quarter-final clash this Thursday night, with the winner just 80 minutes from Wembley.
That’s the prize at stake and under Lee Radford the Black and Whites have needed no second invitation in this competition. Hull know what it’s all about – there’s no second chances and they’ll have to be at their best if they want the victory.
The Magic Weekend display last week against Huddersfield was as bad as it gets. Hull were absolutely woeful. The performance angered many, whilst others were left completely despondent. Now it’s about bouncing back.
Setting the record straight
You can either sit and sulk or roll your sleeves up and prepare yourself for what is Hull FC’s biggest game of the season to date. It’s a must win occasion and therefore we need to see a response. Here’s hoping that attitude is the norm ahead of Thursday night, as only a top notch display will do.
Hull have done okay after big defeats this season. The Warrington debacle was responded with three straight wins and after the smacking at Saints we got a very good win over Wakefield. Hopefully history will repeat itself here, otherwise the pitchforks might come out.
The hooking dilemma
Hull had absolutely nothing at the play-of-the-ball in Liverpool. That’s what happens when you feature two back rowers there, so to have both Danny Houghton and Jez Litten named is pleasing.
Who knows if both will feature. Houghton has to prove his fitness first, and you’d imagine Litten will be in the wings.
Regardless a natural nine from the ruck will help Hull FC have some fluency in attack, and allow their half backs to prosper. Last week we saw none of that. Shocking distribution led to errors, and then il-discipline, and then poor defence. It really was a nightmare.
Defence is all about how much you are willing to defend. It’s a question of desire and mental toughness, something Hull had an abundance of at Warrington, but none of in Liverpool. This will be a big ask of Hull to stop a big mobile Catalans pack, but if they pull together and show a backbone, a win could follow. It goes without saying though that they’ll have to post points in attack too.
Interestingly Hull and Catalans are the last three winners of the Challenge Cup, following the French sides historic win at Wembley last year. Hull of course won the prestigious comp in both 2016 and 2017.
If Catalans do go down, they’ll go down fighting, a bit like Hull at St Helens last year, a team tonight’s opposition beat on the way to the final.
Catalans beat Hull at the KCOM Stadium back in 2007, but since then Hull have tasted wins on three occasions on the way to Wembley. The Airlie Birds won in Perpignan in 2013, and tasted home wins in both 2016 and 2017. This will be the fifth time they’ve met in the competition.
Hull Squad: 1. Jamie Shaul, 2. Bureta Faraimo, 4. Josh Griffin, 6. Albert Kelly, 7. Marc Sneyd, 8. Scott Taylor, 9. Danny Houghton, 10. Josh Bowden, 11. Dean Hadley, 12. Mark Minichiello, 14. Jake Connor, 15. Chris Green, 20. Brad Fash, 21. Sika Manu, 23. Mickey Paea, 28. Jez Litten, 30. Danny Washbrook, 33. Ratu Naulago, 35. Andre Savelio.
Catalans Squad: 1. Tony Gigot, 3. David Mead, 4. Brayden Wiliame, 5. Lewis Tierney, 6. Samisoni Langi, 7. Matty Smith, 8. Remi Casty, 9. Michael McIlorum, 10. Sam Moa, 11. Kenny Edwards, 12. Benjamin Garcia, 14. Julian Bousquet, 15. Mikael Simon, 17. Matt Whitley, 18. Alrix Da Costa, 24. Jason Baitieri, 27. Fouad Yaha, 28. Sam Kasiano, 29. Sam Tomkins.
Last Five Meetings
2019: Hull 6 Catalans 37
2019: Catalans 30 Hull 31
2018: Hull 20 Catalans 26
2018: Catalans 25 Hull 24
2018: Hull 42 Catalans 16
Hope more than anything – Hull by seven.