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BIG MATCH PREVIEW: HULL FC V CATALAN DRAGONS

By | 10/08/2012

Hull FC coach Peter Gentle has challenged his side to compete with the Catalan Dragons from the first whistle on Sunday when the Black and Whites will attempt to tame the French side at the KC Stadium.

The fixture comes just a month after the Airlie Birds slipped to a heavy 44-14 defeat in Perpignan, when Scott Dureau put in a man-of-the-match display at Stade Gilbert Brutus to condemn FC to their second consecutive defeat at the stadium.

Hull’s record at the KC is much better, their last home defeat to Catalan coming in 2008 – but Gentle says his team must muscle up from the start if they are to repeat last year’s 40-8 win over the Dragon, a match which incidentally also fell on August 12.

“We were probably guilty of being conned a little bit the last time we played them. The first 10 minutes were like a game of touch football from both teams and the first side to get their hands dirty would win the game,” said the Hull boss.

“Unfortunately for us, it was them that did that and we need to get into the grind from the first whistle this time. We were probably guilty of giving them a little bit too much respect last time and the score line ended up quite embarrassing for us.

“It was only after about the 65th minute that we got into the physical grind with them and showed we could compete. The challenge for us now is to do that from the start.”

Hull’s cause on Sunday hasn’t been helped by a growing injury list at the KC Stadium, with half a dozen players facing fitness tests ahead of a final training session at the Elite Performance Centre tomorrow.

Gentle will also be without the suspended Joe Westerman who picked up a one-match ban for a tackle on Hame Lauaki against Wigan Warriors last time out, young centre Ben Crooks coming into the squad in his place.

However, should some of his first team stars fail to recover in time for Sunday’s clash, the former Wests Tigers and Australia assistant coach could be forced to ring the changes against a Catalan side sitting pretty in the top four.

The Dragons have also been boosted by the return of Clint Greenshields, Setaimata Sa and Louis Anderson to the side which lost to Huddersfield Giants last timeout to give a welcome selection headache to coach Trent Robinson.

Yet far from worrying about the opposition, Gentle has called on his side to focus on their own performance and cut down on costly individual errors before tackling their high-scoring opponents on Sunday.

“We need to find some consistency in what we are doing. We are all over the shop at the moment, including with our team selection, but it’s been individuals not respecting the ball enough that has cost us,” he said.

“Our completion rate simply hasn’t been good enough. You can be the best defensive team in the competition, but with the amount of possession we are gifting teams, it’s very hard to be consistently good in defence.

“They are a big physical side so it’s a fair challenge, but if we can match them in the middle, we can go a long way towards getting the points. If we don’t control the middle, Scott Dureau can play on the front foot and saw in France what happens when he does.”

Hull squad: Aspinwall, Briscoe, Crooks, Foster, Green, Heremaia, Houghton, Lineham, Lynch, Manu, McGoldrick, Nicklas, O’Meley, Pitts, Seymour, Turner, Watts, Whiting, Yeaman

Catalan squad: Greenshields, Blanch, Pryce, Sa, Dureau, Ferriol, Henderson, Casty, Anderson, Mounis, Raguin, Pelissier, Millard, Fakir, Baitieri, Duport, Barthau, Cardace, Larroyer

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