On Friday night Hull FC and Huddersfield Giants will kick-off their 2018 Betfred Super League campaign at The KCOM Stadium. Let’s take a look at how the two sides are looking ahead of their Round One clash.
TEAM FORM GUIDE
It was a mixed bag for the Airlie Birds in pre-season as they started their preparations for the new season with a derby clash, losing out to Hull KR 34-26 in Danny Houghton’s testimonial. A week later they battled against the conditions to bounce back with a 24-10 victory over Catalans Dragons.
Rick Stone’s men started their pre-season campaign with a hard-fought 32-22 victory over Championship club Dewsbury Rams, before coming up against their Super League counterparts Wakefield Trinity, where they were narrowly beaten 26-22. A young Giants side went down 40-10 to Workington Town last week- however, no first-teamers featured.
Bureta Faraimo joined the club from New Zealand Warriors in the off-season as a replacement for Mahe Fonua and is in line to make his debut on Friday night. Mickey Paea is also in the 19-man-squad looking to make his first appearance for FC.
FC Squad: : Jamie Shaul, Bureta Faraimo, Josh Griffin, Fetuli Talanoa, Albert Kelly, Marc Sneyd, Scott Taylor, Danny Houghton, Dean Hadley, Mark Minichiello, Josh Bowden, Jake Connor, Jordan Abdull, Danny Washbrook, Brad Fash, Sika Manu, Mickey Paea, Jansin Turgut, Masi Matongo.
The Giants have been given a huge boost, with Jake Mamo named in their squad for the first time since undergoing an operation on a foot injury sustained in June. In just nine appearances he scored an impressive 12 times, before his season was ended prematurely. Adam Walne looks set to make his debut following a move from Salford Red Devils.
Giants squad: Danny Brough, Paul Clough, Dale Ferguson, Lee Gaskell, Ryan Hunchcliffe. Sebastine Ikahihifo, Michael Lawrence, Kruise Leeming, Jake Mamo, Jermaine McGillvary, Darnell McIntosh, Aaron Murphy, Adam O’Brien, Jordan Rankin, Oliver Robertsm Daniel Smith, Ukuma Ta’ai, Jordan Turner, Adam Walne.
The last time these two sides went head-to-head, Lee Gaskell inspired Huddersfield to a 46-18 rout over The Black and Whites, crossing for a hat-trick of tries. With Lee Radford’s side Wembley bound the following week, it was clear to see their minds were elsewhere as they came up with an uncharacteristic performance.
When the two clubs meet again on Thursday evening, they will look to their star men in order to start their season on a positive note. For the hosts, captain Danny Houghton will be out to mark a milestone appearance with a big performance, while Albert Kelly will be the man who provides the spark. Mamo’s return is big news for the visitors as he will look to continue where he left off last season, while Danny Brough’s kicking game could be key for the Giants.
While Hull will be favourites on paper, their head coach Radford isn’t taking their opponents lightly.
“The seventeen that will come to our place tomorrow will be a tasty one,” he said in his pre-match press conference.
“When they got their troops healthy last season, they pulled off some upsets in the Super 8s.
“We’ve got to be careful of their number seven [Danny Brough] because if you give him time and space, he can be the most damaging number seven in the competition.”
Huddersfield coach Stone was also complimentary when talking about his round one opponents.
“Hull have a lot of strengths,” he told the club’s official website.
“They have a good, mobile and skilful forward pack. They have some good boys on the edge, good halves with the kicking game from Sneyd and Albert Kelly is a striking runner. Jake Connor has had a big pre-season, Shaul is a dynamic runner that can challenge you and they have some good wingers who can carry the ball very well.
“They are a good all-round team that have played in big games over the last couple of years and have competed really well.”
Hull FC captain Danny Houghton is in line to make his 300th career appearance- 296 of those have been for the black and whites with the other three coming for England Knights.
THE IMPORTANT DETAILS
Date: Thursday 1st February
Venue: KCOM Stadium
Kick-off: 19:45 GMT
Referee: S Mikalauskas
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