So a win for Hull FC over Wakefield come Friday night will make it four victories in a row for the Black and Whites in 2019 – a scenario that many will have believed was virtually impossible a few short months ago.
But the Airlie Birds are enjoying a resurgence right now, with wins over Wigan, Huddersfield and Leeds leapfrogging them up the table. Now it’s about consolidating against a good Trinity outfit, with another decent home crowd expected.
Attack, attack, attack
A spine of Jamie Shaul, Albert Kelly, Marc Sneyd and Joe Westerman is intriguing and obviously crucial to an impressive and attractive attack. Hull were absolutely ruthless during their most prominent spells against Leeds and similar potency could bring similar reward – although it’s worth reminding Wakefield are a tougher outfit than the Whinos these days. It will be a tough task but if Hull can extend those purple patches then there’s no reason why they can’t get the two points. Their shape has been excellent recently and posting points in the past two wins hasn’t been a problem.
Carlos Tuimavave and in particular Josh Griffin have been absolute metre machines this season. Griffin has been the unsung hero in recent weeks and is slowly rediscovering last seasons early form. Tuimavave meanwhile is a criminally under-rated centre, who has found a new and welcoming partnership with Ratu Naulago. On the other flank Bureta Faraimo is a big part of Hull FC’s go-forward and one would expect both edges to kickstart Hull FC’s sets – especially out the backfield.
The only area of concern from last weeks win over Leeds was the slow start, which saw Hull go 10-0 down inside the opening ten minutes. Luckily we had the quality and momentum to see ourselves out of it but you can’t always bank on that. It’s a funny old game and Radford will no doubt want his side to start with a bang on Friday night and kick on from there.
Radford and co have unleashed a real gem here. Not many would have expected the Fijian flyer to have made his mark in Super League so suddenly, but four tries in his first three appearances in this competition tells its own story. Naulago is absolutely rapid, he’s full of pace, and that’s a welcome trait on its own. He’s a likeable bloke that has settled in well, so well that a fit Fetuli Talanoa is still having to fight his way back in via the Reserves. They’ve got two games this month on the 23rd and 28th so it’ll be interesting to see what happens there, but right now the Fijian is leading the way.
Silencing the doubters
Mark Minichiello and Sika Manu were absolutely immense against Leeds. Manu I get, but Minichiello for me signed for one year too many, or so I thought. If he can replicate that sort of performance on a frequent basis then there can be no complaints. Manu meanwhile has been in superb form. With Andre Savelio’s imminent arrival there’s that extra incentive to maintain their performance level, otherwise Radford can chop and change his squad. The luxury of options. Much welcome indeed.
Hull: 1. Jamie Shaul, 2. Bureta Faraimo, 3. Carlos Tuimavave, 4. Josh Griffin, 6. Albert Kelly, 7. Marc Sneyd, 8. Scott Taylor, 9. Danny Houghton, 11. Dean Hadley, 12. Mark Minichiello, 13. Joe Westerman, 16. Jordan Thompson, 19. Masimbaashe Matongo, 21. Sika Manu, 22. Jordan Lane, 28. Jez Litten, 30. Danny Washbrook, 33. Ratu Naulago, 34. Gareth Ellis.
Wakefield: 1. Ryan Hampshire, 2. Tom Johnstone, 3. Bill Tupou, 4. Reece Lyne, 5. Ben Jones-Bishop, 6. Jacob Miller, 7. Danny Brough, 8. David Fifita, 9. Kyle Wood, 10. Anthony England, 11. Matty Ashurst, 12. Danny Kirmond, 14. Justin Horo, 15. Craig Kopzcak, 16. Tinirau Arona, 18. Joe Arundel, 22. George King, 24. Pauli Pauli, 26. Jordan Crowther,
Mickey Paea is out due to an injury picked up against Leeds last week, Danny Washbrook replaces him with Brad Fash’s loan move to Toronto confirmed. Fash will spend a month with the Wolfpack.
Long term absentees Josh Bowden and Chris Green are still battling their injuries, although both are making significant progress. Matty Dawson-Jones is sidelined for the season, whereas Liam Harris and Jake Connor are still injured.
Meanwhile, Wakefield welcome back Matty Ashurst but are missing both Tyler Randell and Craig Huby.
Last Five Meetings
2018: Hull 13 Wakefield 31
2018: Wakefield 72 Hull 10
2018: Hull 27 Wakefield 26
2017: Hull 19 Wakefield 18
2017: Hull 40 Wakefield 18
Wakefield to win by four