Hull FC head into the final Super League regular season round knowing their fate – a win over St Helens and they are in the top five. Lose and 2019 is over.
It’s a tough ask. St Helens have a bigger lead on second placed Wigan than Wigan have on current bottom placed side London. That if anything highlights the regular season dominance of the Saints. They are a bloody good side, runaway leaders, and only a best performance of the year will do, something which is a long shot given recent form.
But still never say never. We want to believe. The departing Mark Minichiello and Sika Manu deserve it. Then there’s Mickey Paea, who will want to make sure that this isn’t his last game before retirement. It’s one of those heart over head occasions. Not many will expect Hull to get the job done, and in many respects it would be typical Hull if we did.
There’s an incentive for Saints too. They are pretty much full-strength for this game knowing they have a week off next week. They won’t want to go into their first play-off match on the back of a defeat. They have some stock, a fit again Lachlan Coote, James Roby, Luke Thompson, and the best player in the competition Jonny Lomax.
With St Helens’ quality realistically it’s hard to see a Hull win. Saints have already beaten us 62-16 and 40-12 this season. But the pressure is off if you like. Nothing is expected of Hull here, and they like the underdog tag. Hopefully that will reflect in the performance. Fans just want to see some fight. Throw the ball about, dig in, make your tackles and give it a go. It’s not much to ask, right?
Hull have made two changes with both Jordan Lane and Andre Savelio coming back into the squad. Savelio has been out for a few months with a foot injury whereas Lane was harshly left out at Castleford alongside Brad Fash.
Tevita Satae is set for a fourth Hull appearance. His average gain is the best in the comp for a prop right now, averaging 10.19 metres a carry. Satae has made 26 carries in three games so far for a total of 265 metres. Give him the ball.
Sika Manu isn’t named in the nineteen.
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, 14. Jake Connor, 19. Masimbaashe Matongo, 20. Brad Fash, 22. Jordan Lane, 23. Mickey Paea, 33. Ratu Naulago, 34. Gareth Ellis, 35. Andre Savelio, 39. Tevita Satae.
St Helens Squad: 1. Jonny Lomax, 2. Tommy Makinson, 3. Kevin Naiqama, 4. Mark Percival, 5. Regan Grace, 6. Theo Fages, 8. Alex Walmsley, 9. James Roby, 10. Luke Thompson, 11. 11. Zeb Taia, 12. Joseph Paulo, 13. LMS, 15. Morgan Knowles, 16. Kyle Amor, 17. Dom Peyroux, 20. Jack Ashworth, 22. James Bentley, 23. Lachlan Coote, 24. Matty Costello.
Last Five Meetings
2019: Hull FC 12 St Helens 40
2019: St Helens 62 Hull FC 16
2018: St Helens 38 Hull FC 12
2018: Hull FC 18 St Helens 34
2018: St Helens 25 Hull FC 22
Optimism or realism? St Helens by 20.