Round 2 starts off with Castleford taking a trip to Hull FC. Here’s everything you need to know.
TEAM FORM GUIDE
The Black and Whites will be feeling the pressure after an opening day defeat against city rivals Hull KR, with Jimmy Keinhorst scoring on the final play to clinch it for the Robins. It meant Lee Radford’s men had recorded a 12th straight defeat in Super League. Hull have lost every match, apart from a pre-season victory against Doncaster, since June 29 when they beat a since relegated Widnes Vikings side.
Castleford have looked strong so far this season without influential half-back Luke Gale. After an empthatic 56-0 victory against Featherstone, the Tigers followed up in pre-season with a narrow victory against Leeds. This was continued in their opening match of the season in a 20-4 home win over Catalans Dragons with Liam Watts causing many issues for Catalans.
The Black and Whites make three changes from last week’s 19-man squad including a return for England international Jake Connor, who missed the opening fixture due to a suspension received during the pre-season match against St Helens. Former Castleford player Joe Westerman is also in line to make his first appearance of the season and his first Super League outing since suffering a knee injury in July. Hakim Miloudi is also named in the squad.
Dean Hadley adds to the list of injuried players for Hull after suffering an abdominal strain in training. Brad Fash and Danny Langtree also miss out.
Hull FC 19-man squad:
1. Jamie Shaul, 2. Bureta Faraimo, 3. Carlos Tuimavave, 4. Josh Griffin, 7. Marc Sneyd, 8. Scott Taylor, 9. Danny Houghton, 12. Mark Minichiello, 13. Joe Westerman, 14. Jake Connor, 16. Jordan Thompson, 17. Matty Dawson-Jones, 19. Masi Matongo, 21. Sika Manu, 22. Jordan Lane, 23. Mickey Paea, 27. Hakim Miloudi, 28. Jez Litten, 30. Danny Washbrook.
Castleford have made two changes to their side as second rower Mike McMeeken suffered a concussion in the opening round, resulting in him being unable to feature as a result of the head injury protocol. Matt Cook is also unavailable.
Daryll Powell names youngsters Jacques O’Neil and Tuoyo Egodo, with the latter scoring a hat trick in a home defeat to Hull back in 2017.
Castleford 19-man squad:
2. James Clare, 21. Mitch Clark, 5.Greg Eden, 25. Tuoyo Egodo, 17. Alex Foster, 14. Nathan Massey, 1. Peter Mata’utia, 9. Paul McShane, 10. Grant Millington, 13. Adam Milner, 3. Greg Minikin, 16. Junior Moors, 29. Jacques O’Neill, 32. Jordan Rankin, 19. Ben Roberts, 15. Jesse Sene-Lefao, 4. Michael Shenton, 6. Jake Trueman, 8. Liam Watts.
HEAD TO HEAD
The stats are unique as it’s hard to split the two as neither have a significant advantage over the other. In the last 10 meetings, both sides have won five a piece showing that this could be a contest that goes either way. In the last 10 meetings, six have been held at the KCOM and both sides have an identical record with both winning three each.
Last season the sides, played at the KCOM twice with Hull winning the regular round before Castleford were victorious in the Super 8s.
Hull have the advantage when it comes to scoring, with Castleford scoring 108 points in their last five matches against the side from East Yorkshire, meanwhile Hull have 132 points in those matches.
Scott Taylor (Hull FC) vs Liam Watts (Castleford Tigers)
Former Black and White prop Liam Watts will be looking to replicate an impressive performance from round one which saw him get three points in the Steve Prescott MBE Man of Steel. Watts excelled, making 43 tackles along with 181 metres from his 20 carries.
His opposite number Scott Taylor will be looking to nullify his threat and lead his hometown club to their first win of the season. Taylor’s offload game can make it difficult for sides, often as fullback Jamie Shaul will be lurking on Taylor’s shoulder.
THE IMPORTANT DETAILS
Date: Thursday 7th February
Venue: KCOM Stadium
Referee: Chris Kendall
WHO WILL WIN?
A difficult match to call on paper with both sides without key players. The return of Jake Connor will strengthen Lee Radford’s side in the halves, which should give them more to offer in attack. Mike McMeeken will be a big loss in the second row and despite the Black and Whites not winning in any of their last 12 competitive matches, I think they will bring that run to an end on home soil. It will be a tight contest which is why I think Hull FC 24 Castleford 20.