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BIG MATCH PREVIEW: ST HELENS V HULL FC
By | 21/02/2014
Hull FC and St Helens will put their unbeaten starts to Super League XIX on the line this evening when the two sides collide at Langtree Park to contest the inaugural Steve Prescott Cup.
Both victorious in the opening round of the campaign last weekend, the Black and Whites face a difficult journey across the M62 to face one of the early favourites for silverware in 2014 in what is sure to be an emotional encounter.
Set to pay tribute to former Hull and Saints full back Steve Prescott following his tragic death in the off season, the two teams will also be eager to continue their winning start to the season with the Airlie Birds aiming to build on a thrilling 36-34 victory over Catalan last time out.
Running in eight tries at the KC Stadium in an end-to-end contest, Lee Radford’s side conceded three late tries on their right-hand side to give the Dragons a sniff of a draw and speaking to www.hullfc.com this week, the club’s head coach says it will be vital his players improve defensively tonight.
“If I was Saints, I’d be looking at that right edge. It’s something that’s been identified and we’ve spoken about some of the poor decisions that right edge came up with last Friday night.
“We’re hoping we’re going to see a more composed performance defensively on that side as the communication wasn’t where it needs to be out there.
“There were some things to build on from last week and some things to fix up as well, which hopefully we can. We’re certainly looking for an improvement in our performance and I think we’ll need that against this lot this week.
“I think we’ll get better as we go along and the more our new combinations across the board get used to playing with each other, the better we’ll be.”
As for the Saints, Nathan Brown’s men come into the game on the back of a 38-8 thrashing of Warrington Wolves in the opening round and will be eager to get off to a winning start at Langtree Park, a ground where they are yet to beat the Black and Whites.
With Hull victorious in 2012 and the sides sharing a 22-22 draw last season, the St Helens boss has also named an unchanged squad for the clash and Radford says tonight’s opponents have plenty of danger men.
“They were really dominant against Warrington in round one. They’ll be looking to lay another platform through the forwards but I’m confident in the big fellas we’ve got and hopefully it’s going to be a great challenge and one we’ll rise to.
“Luke Walsh got a lot of praise last week but I thought James Roby and Jonny Lomax were head and shoulders above anybody else on the park. They’ve got some real threats in their spine and once the pack gets the territory, it’s easy for any spine to play on the back of, so that’s something we’ve got to minimalize.
“When you look at both teams, there’s youth across the backs and across the two sides. You talk about the forward challenge but there’s a big one for the backs as well.
“We’re happy with how the week’s gone and that the lads know their roles and what they’ve got to do.”
St Helens squad:
Lomax, Makinson, Turner, Jones, Swift, Hohaia, Walsh, Roby, McCarthy-Scarsbrook, Soliola, Wilkin, Manu, Laffranchi, Amor, Wellens, Walmsley, Percival, Wheeler, Richards
Hull FC squad:
Arundel, Bowden, Carvell, Crooks, Ellis, Heremaia, Horne, Houghton, Lineham, Miller, Paea, Paleaaesina, Rankin, Shaul, Talanoa, Thompson, Westerman, Whiting, Yeaman