By Sian Reed
The Black and Whites will face off against the red and whites of a different kind this year at the Magic Weekend. Both clubs have a so-so record in the Magic fixtures but they are both used to meeting local rivals, Hull KR and Wigan respectively.
LAST TIME OUT
Last week saw two very different stories for these teams. Hull treated their fans to a whitewash at the KCOM, beating the Catalan Dragons 62-0. The only negative for the Hull fans was that Marc Sneyd had a nightmare with his kicking, getting only two out of seven kicks before handing the honours over to Jake Connor. Steve Michaels cemented his place in the team with a hat-trick against an injury-hit Catalans side.
On the flip side, St Helens were on the wrong end of a 53-10 loss against Castleford. Saturday’s televised game could not have gone much worse for the Saints. For the first twenty minutes, it looked like it might be a close-knit encounter, but in the last nine-minutes of the second half, the Tigers managed to grab four tries and continued their dominant display after half-time.
There are several players that will be battling each other in this match but perhaps the biggest battle will be in the halves. After a disappointing week last week, Marc Sneyd will want to bounce back and with Albert Kelly on fire in recent weeks, this half-back combination is one that FC fans have been waiting to see since the Cooke/Brough/Horne days, back in 2005.
Theo Fages and Matty Smith have both been under-performing this season, Saints will have their new head coach, Justin Holbrook, watching from the stands so will this pair rise to the occasion to impress their new boss?
Hull have won their last five games (four in the league and last week’s cup win) and still don’t look like they’re at their best. Saints have lost their last two games, being thumped in both the cup and their last league match.
This could be the turning point in the season for St Helens. A new coach coming in will have new ideas on who fits in the team and the way they play. The squad will want to put their best foot forward going into next week, which will be Holbrook’s official first week in charge.
However, judging by how well Hull have played in the past few weeks, I can’t see St Helens winning this game. They’ll put up a good fight, they usually do, but I think that Hull will win by at least two tries.
Hull have included Talanoa, Manu and Tuimavave in their 19-man squad, meaning Fonua, Connor and Ellis miss out. Youngsters Turgut, Fash and Downs maintain their places with Chris Green set to make his 100th Hull FC appearance in Newcastle.
Saints have named an unchanged side from last week’s defeat, with Tommy Makinson set to make his 150th St Helens appearance.
Hull FC: 1. Jamie Shaul, 3. Carlos Tuimavave, 4. Josh Griffin, 5. Fetuli Talanoa, 6. Albert Kelly, 7. Marc Sneyd, 8. Scott Taylor, 9. Danny Houghton, 10. Liam Watts, 12. Mark Minichiello, 15. Chris Green, 16. Jordan Thompson, 17. Daniel Washbrook, 19. Steven Michaels, 21. Sika Manu, 22. Josh Bowden, 25. Jansin Turgut, 27. Jack Downs, 28. Brad Fash.
St Helens: 2. Tommy Makinson, 3. Ryan Morgan, 4. Mark Percival, 5. Adam Swift, 6. Theo Fages, 7. Matty Smith, 8. Alex Walmsley, 9. James Roby, 10. Kyle Amor, 12. Jon Wilkin, 13. Louie McCarthy-Scarsbrook, 14. Luke Douglas, 16. Luke Thompson, 17. Tommy Lee, 18. Dominique Peyroux, 19. Greg Richards, 20. Morgan Knowles, 28. Regan Grace, 36. Zeb Taia.
Referee: Robert Hicks
Venue: St James’ Park, Newcastle
Date/Time: Saturday 20th May 2017 – 16:45pm GMT