Hull FC play host to the Salford Red Devils at the KCOM Stadium on Friday night in what looks to be a tough encounter between the 3rd and 4th placed teams.

Last Time Out

Hull visited Warrington on April Fool’s Day and, in a repeat of their game against Wigan, built up a healthy lead before doing their best to throw it away. Albert Kelly, who will miss this week’s game on compassionate grounds, bagged his regulation try a game in the first half and, despite two tries from Matty Russell, the Airlie Birds went in 20-8 up at half time. Hull, however, could only add two more points in the second period and a hat trick completing try from Russell, alongside one from Daryl Clark levelled the scores. Both sides missed opportunities to win the game and it finished 22 a piece with Warrington earning their first point of the season.

Salford were at home to St Helens in the rounds Thursday night fixture and continued their good start to the season. In a low scoring first half, Salford took the lead through a Michael Dobson penalty which was followed by a converted try from Craig Kopczak to go in 8-0 up at the break. Dobson added a try after the interval before a mini Saints comeback with tries from Walmsley, Morgan, and Lomax was ended with another try from Dobson to seal a 22-14 victory for the Red Devils

Key Battles

With summer trying to break through, this game could all be about the backs. Due to injuries, Hull will probably shuffle about a bit and revert to last season’s pairing of Fonua at centre and Michaels on the wing. It’s a shame Fonua won’t be directly opposite Justin Carney but I still expect a good arm wrestle between those two giant backs. Former Hull KR player Kris Welham will be up against former Red Devil Josh Griffin in a good encounter in the centres and, at full back, Hull FC hero (for consigning Hull KR to relegation) Gareth O’Brien is up against Jamie Shaul. I think, this time, the Hull fans will not want O’Brien to come out on top. In the halves it would have been great to see Kelly and Sneyd compete with the triumvirate of Lui, Dobson, and Todd Carney but, with Kelly not available, it will be up to Jake Connor to fill the void. He didn’t have a great game at 6 when Kelly was suspended a few weeks ago and I’m sure he will be eager to put right a few wrongs.

Prediction

Hull FC have been involved in a few tight games lately and I do not see this one as being any different. Salford, finally, seem to be coming right and Hull are without a few key players. Despite the injuries, I will say FC have enough strength in depth, and the home advantage, to see off the Devils. Hull FC by 6

Hull FC squad: Jamie Shaul, Mahe Fonua, Josh Griffin, Fetuli Talanoa, Marc Sneyd, Scott Taylor, Liam Watts, Mark Minichiello, Gareth Ellis, Jake Connor, Chris Green, Jordan Thompson, Danny Washbrook, Steve Michaels, Sika Manu, Josh Bowden, Jansin Turgut, Brad Fash, Jez Litten.

Salford squad: Adam Walne, Ben Murdoch-Masila, Craig Kopczak, Gareth O’Brien, George Griffin, Greg Johnson, Josh Wood, Josh Jones, Junior Sa’u, Justin Carney, Kris Welham, Lama Tasi, Lee Mossop, Logan Tomkins, Mark Flanagan, Michael Dobson, Olsi Krasniqi, Robert Lui, Todd Carney.