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Preview: Hull FC v Catalans

FC will be looking to bounce back to winning ways this weekend when they head to the south of France to take on a stout Catalans Dragons side on Saturday.
Preview: Hull FC v Catalans
by NRL

FC will be looking to bounce back to winning ways this weekend when they head to the south of France to take on a stout Catalans Dragons side on Saturday.

The Dragons are currently residing in 4th in the Stobart Super League table and have proven to be a stalwart opponent this season as they've notched up some impressive victories.

The previous meeting between the teams was initially cancelled in February due to a frozen pitch leaving a tasty encounter in store, fuelled by defeats last time out in their previous league matches against Leeds and Warrington, respectively.

The Black and Whites are currently sat with 22 points on the Super League ladder and a win on Saturday would launch them back up to 6th in the table, a significant boost for their play-off aspirations.

Nevertheless, if Peter Gentle's men are to claim the two points they must find the resolve to overcome the Frenchmen and an ever increasing injury list that has now risen to thirteen and includes influential first-teamers such as Sam Moa, Danny Tickle and Mark O'Meley.

It means some of Hull's young guns will have to step up to the plate, with Gentle calling up England Academy hooker James Cunningham and winger Tom Lineham for the very first time.
The Australian head coach commented, "I still feel we're a competitive side despite the injuries, but the upside is getting to give young players like James the chance to play.

"To give a young kid a game is always a bonus and he was over the moon when I told him.

"He's a clever and capable player and certainly very confident especially ahead of his upcoming tour to Australia with the England side."

The likes of Cunningham, starting No.9 Aaron Heremaia and the larger men in Hull's pack will certainly have a job on their hands to control the Dragons formidable forwards, who are followed by the creative spark of half backs Leon Pryce and Scott Dureux.

Gentle is more than aware of the hosts physical approach and size advantage but he believes he has the players and the right game plan to get an important win.

"Catalans have a very good squad with a very big pack of forwards, who their half backs play off very well.

"That is something we need to watch and control and it will be very tough for us out there, but we know what to do and I believe we have what it takes to cause an upset."

Aside from the inclusion of Cunningham and Lineham, Hull are also boosted by the inclusion of new full back Ryan McGoldrick who escaped a suspension following an appeal hearing earlier this week after an incident with referee Tim Roby.

The Dragons have a near full strength squad to choose from, although powerful prop forward David Ferriol misses out as he begins a two-match ban.
The game will be the first of two encounters between the sides within the next month with the return fixture set to take place at the KC Stadium on August 12th.

With no meetings so far this season you have to go back to August last year for the previous head-to-head between the sides as Hull ran out emphatic 40-8 winners, making up for a 28-10 defeat in France earlier that year.

The sides have met 13 times in the Super League era, with the Black and Whites claiming 8 victories to the Dragons 3, as well as 2 memorable draws.

Hull: Aspinwall, T. Briscoe, Crooks, Heremaia, Horne, Green, Lynch, Manu, J. Cunningham, Lineham, Pitts, Russell, Seymour, McGoldrick, Turner, Westerman, Watts, Whiting, Yeaman.

Catalan Dragons: Greenshields, Blanch, Pryce, Dureau, Henderson, Casty, Menzies, Mounis, Raguin, Baile, Pelissier, Millard, Bousquet, Fakir, Paea, Baitieri, Duport, Fisher, Pala.

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