The Challenge Cup quarter finals kicks off on Thursday, as Hull FC host Catalans Dragons.
TEAM FORM GUIDE
Hull FC come into the fixture after being embarrassed at the Magic Weekend against Huddersfield. The 55-2 defeat came off the back of a strong away win against Warrington. Hull have struggled to put a sequence of wins together, with the last time they beat three sides in a row coming last month, which included an away win at Catalans. Lee Radford’s side beat Castleford 28-12 in the previous round.
The Dragons have won all their fixture in May, including Wigan at the Nou Camp and their Anfield success over Wakefield last weekend. These four victory during this month includes a 37-6 victory at the KCOM against Hull FC. Catalans beat Doncaster 62-6 in the previous round.
Lee Radford makes three changes to the side who faced Huddersfield last weekend. Bureta Faraimo returns after missing the last two matches with a dead leg. Andre Savelio could make his first appearance since the beginning of April. Jez Litten is also named in the 19-man squad.
Kieran Buchanan and Masi Matongo miss out. Meanwhile Joe Westerman drops out due to a knee injury.
Hull FC 19-man squad: Shaul, Faraimo, Griffin, Kelly, Sneyd, Taylor, Houghton, Bowden, Hadley, Minichiello, Connor, Green, Fash, Manu, Paea, Litten, Washbrook, Naulago, Savelio
Head coach Steve McNamara welcomes back former Wigan duo Sam Tomkins and Michael McIlorum. Lambert Belmas and Benjamin Jullien both drop out.
Catalans 19-man squad: Gigot, Mead, Wiliame, Tierney, Langi, Smith, Casty, McIlorum, Moa, Edwards, Garcia, Bousquet, Simon, Whitley, Da Costa, Baitieri, Yaha, Kasiano, Tomkins
HEAD TO HEAD
This will be the third the sides have met this season, once in Hull and the other in the South of France. On both occasions the away side has left victorious.
The last two meetings in the Challenge Cup have been held at the KCOM with the home side coming out on on top. These were in 2016 and 2017, in both of these years Hull lift the cup at Wembley. The most recent cup meeting ended in a 62-0 hammering, in which Hull ran in 12 tries. Only Steve Michaels, Liam Watts, Mahe Fonua and Jasin Turgut are not at the club anymore from those who got onto the scoresheet.
The 2016 cup meeting was in the same round with a 22-8 scoreline favouring the English side. That season was the first time Hull recorded silverware since 2005.
Danny Houghton (Hull FC) v Michael McIlorum (Catalans Dragons)
Both of the sides hookers missed the Magic fixture, however they could have a big say on who will get to the Challenge Cup semi final. Houghton is a huge asset to Hull. He usually is the league’s top tackler or up towards the top of the chart. He also allows Hull to get on the front foot by dictating play from the ruck. A player Hull have missed, as they have been without a recognised hooker for the past few matches.
McIlorum has been a key player to the Dragons since making the move in 2018. The Irish international often looks to exploit holes in the defence and with powerful players such as Sam Kasino, Sam Moa and Kenny Edwards the French side can be a powerful outfit. As they proved last season when they won this competition.
THE IMPORTANT DETAILS
Date: Thursday May 30th
Venue: KCOM Stadium
Kick-off: 7:35 PM
Referee: Ben Thaler
WHO WILL WIN?
Like most sides in the league Hull have been intermittent, with strong performances followed by weak displays. They will be hoping to bounce back to winning ways. Catalans have been on a good run of form, however they have struggled on the road before. This season they have been stronger away, hence why they are third in the table. Despite last weekends result, I think Hull will be able to rectify the issues and book their place in a third semi final in four years.