With Super League’s regular rounds drawing to a close, both Hull FC and Castleford need a victory. Hull sit in 5th spot but are clinging on. A win for Castleford would switch them in 6th with Hull because of Hull’s sub-par points difference. Here’s everything you need to know about Thrusday night’s game.
TEAM FORM GUIDE
The Black and Whites seem to have lost some steam going into arguably the most crucial part of the season. They have lost the last two games both at home, a 44-22 defeat to Salford before last week’s 22-12 defeat to Huddersfield.
There is just one change for the Tigers, with Matt Cook in to replace Jacques O’Neill. Cook has been out since July with a voice problem.
Castleford’s 19-man squad: Blair, Clare, Cook, Ellis, Holmes, Maher, Massey, Mata’utia, McMeeken, McShane, Millington, Milner, Minikin, Rankin, Sene-Lefao, Smith, Trueman, Turner, Watts.
There are welcome returns of trio Albert Kelly, Ratu Naulago and Mark Minichiello. Kelly has been out for a month with various niggling injuries, in particular a rib injury. Naulago returns from a hamstring injury and Minichiello a groin strain.
They replace Kieran Buchanan, Jordan Lane and Joe Westerman in the 19-man squad. Lane has been impressive filling in this season so could just be having a rest for the week.
Hull FC’s 19-man squad: Shaul, Faraimo, Tuimavave, Griffin, Kelly, Sneyd, Taylor, Houghton, Bowden, Minichiello, Connor, Matongo, Fash, Manu, Paea, Logan, Ellis, Naulago, Satae.
HEAD TO HEAD
This is the fourth meeting between the two sides in 2019. Back in February, Castleford beat the Airlie Birds 26-18 at the KCOM Stadium.
The two sides then met again at the KCOM in the Challenge Cup in May, a 28-12 victory giving Hull FC a quarter-finals spot.
Just a month later, Hull visited the Mend-A-Hose Jungle and grabbed another victory. That 31-18 win gave them three wins on the bounce in a game which saw Marc Sneyd score his 1000th point for the club.
Jake Trueman (Castleford) v Albert Kelly (Hull FC)
There are a number of key battles this week, including Liam Watts v Scott Taylor, but Jake Trueman v Albert Kelly could be the game-breaker.
Trueman received a call up to the Great Britain Lions performance squad, with Watts also being included. This should give the young half-back a boost but he will have a lot of work to do if he is to compete with Blake Austin, George Williams and Jake Connor for a jersey at the end of October for the tour to New Zealand and Papua New Guinea. However, his inclusion is on merit as he has been one of the most consistent performers in the competition and the trip would be a real learning experience for him.
Kelly is finally back in the fold for Hull FC, who have missed the halfback in the past month. Jake Connor has been deputising in the halves in his absence but has failed to spark any real attacking play. Marc Sneyd cannt do the job of two so will be grateful that his half-back partner return. Kelly can add an extra sparkle in the Hull attack, working well with Connor and Jamie Shaul as supporting players.
THE IMPORTANT DETAILS
Date: Thursday 5th September
Venue: The Mend-A-Hose Jungle
Referee: Ben Thaler
WHO WILL WIN?
This is a tough one to call. Hull have not played well in recent weeks and Castleford have had mixed fortunes too. Hull seem to travel better than when they play at home so if they can give a full 80-minute performance, they should have just enough. If Hull can get Sneyd and Kelly combining in attack again, they’ll win by 10 points.