Aaron Sutcliffe previews the Super League play-off semi-final between the Wigan Warriors and Hull FC at the DW Stadium. This is what we have to look forward to.
The Warriors are on a four-game winning run, which includes impressive victories against the Warrington Wolves and St Helens. They clinched the League Leaders’ Shield in their last outing against the Huddersfield Giants.
The Airlie Birds upset the odds to reach the semi-finals, producing a superb performance to dispatch Warrington last week. They appear to have turned a corner under coach Andy Last, having won five of their last six matches.
Adrian Lam has made two changes from the side that beat Huddersfield, with captain Sean O’Loughlin set to play in his final match at the DW Stadium.
Amir Bourouh is the other player who comes into the squad in place of Sam Powell and Dom Manfredi, who are both missing.
Wigan squad: Hardaker, Hankinson, Gildart, J. Burgess, French, Leuluai, Clubb, G. Burgess, Isa, Farrell, O’Loughlin, Flower, Smithies, Partington, Bullock, Byrne, Bibby, Smith, Hastings, Bourouh, Singleton.
Last makes just one change from the squad that produced a fine display to see off Warrington last week, with Jack Brown replacing Josh Jones.
The trio of Jamie Shaul, Adam Swift, and Gareth Ellis remain unavailable as Hull bid to reach their first grand final since 2006.
Hull squad: Faraimo, Tuimavave, Griffin, Connor, Sneyd, Taylor, Houghton, Satae, Ma’u, Sao, Cator, Johnstone, Fash, Lane, Bowden, Savelio, Fonua, Brown, Scott, Naulago, McNamara.
The two sides last met in the Challenge Cup quarter-finals in September, with Wigan running out 36-4 winners at the AJ Bell Stadium. Liam Farrell and Bevan French both touched down for two tries, with the latter also touching down in the Warriors’ 26-12 Super League win against Hull back in February.
Wigan have plenty of players capable of producing match-winning moments, with French having scored 12 tries this season and Jackson Hastings crossing for nine tries as well as providing 18 assists.
Hull have a match-winner of their own in Marc Sneyd, with the scrum-half having scored four drop-goals this season and outside back Jake Connor having assisted 14 tries and produced two successful 40-20 attempts.
BATTLE TO WATCH
Jackson Hastings vs Marc Sneyd
The two players to watch out for on Thursday night are undoubtedly Hastings and Sneyd, with the pair likely to choreograph their respective teams’ play.
Wigan will miss the influence of Sam Powell, who has enjoyed arguably his best season in a Warriors shirt, which means Hastings should step in to dictate the tempo of the home side’s play.
The 24-year-old recently signed a new deal with the club and has once again shown just how good he can be, backing up his Man of Steel win last season with another excellent season for Wigan.
Sneyd guided Hull through their win against Warrington with a calm and collected performance and will need to be at his very best to send his team through to the grand final next week.
He scored five goals and a drop goal in their win at the Halliwell Jones Stadium last week and has history at the DW Stadium, having scored Super League’s first ever Golden Point extra-time winner in this fixture last season.
Date: Thursday, November 19
Venue: DW Stadium