Preview: Hull FC v St Helens
Hull FC will seek to make amends for two below-par performances on the road this week when taking on last year's Grand Finalists St Helens at the KC Stadium.by NRL
Hull FC will seek to make amends for two below-par performances on the road this week when taking on last year's Grand Finalists St Helens at the KC Stadium.
Scrapping their way to a hard-fought 14-12 win over London Broncos a fortnight ago before falling to defeat courtesy of a last-minute try against Hull KR last week, the Black and Whites enter tomorrow's clash striving to find the level of consistency targeted by the squad this season.
Eager to return to the form that earned them a comprehensive win over defending champions Leeds Rhinos in their last home game a month ago, Peter Gentle's side will come against opponents also hoping to bounce back from derby heartache.
Beaten convincingly 42-16 by neighbours Wigan at the Magic Weekend last time out, the Saints will be hoping to rediscover the self-belief that has seen them lose just three games since acting head coach Mike Rush and his assistant Keiron Cunningham took over the reins in March, each of those defeats coming against the Warriors.
However, boosted by the return of England international Kirk Yeaman and the in-form Richard Whiting to his 19-man squad, Gentle says his camp has been focusing on ensuring their own performance is up-to-speed this weekend, rather than worrying about what the Saints will bring to the table.
And following the controversial defeat to Rovers last week ? a Michael Dobson try being allowed to stand despite a clear forward pass as KR fought back from a 14-point deficit in the final quarter ? Gentle says his side must learn to take their chances more ruthlessly if they are to beat St Helens, who sit just two points and one place below the Black and Whites on the Super League ladder going into tomorrow's game.
"When the game got to that stage in the final 12 minutes last week, there were a lot of things going on outside of our control. But before that, there was a period where there were things happening that we could control and we probably should have done better then," said the Hull head coach.
"We had our opportunities to put the game to bed in that first 20 minutes after half-time and we didn't quite do it. We should have put ourselves in a position at that stage where we couldn't lose the game.
"Unfortunately for us, we were still in a position where we could lose and a game we should have been seeing out comfortably had turned on its head. That's hugely disappointing, but we've learned from it and moved on.
"It's taught us just how important it is to finish a game off when you have the momentum, as we've seen how quickly it can change. St Helens are one team in particular which have shown an ability to do that, so we have to be better this week and I'm confident we will be."
Meanwhile, St Helens have made five changes to their 19-man squad ahead of tomorrow's clash as they seek their first victory at the KC Stadium since 2009.
Ade Gardner, Anthony Laffranchi, Gary Wheeler, Francis Meli and Shaun Magennis all miss out, with Tommy Makinson, Mark Flanagan, Carl Forster, Adam Swift and Lee Gaskell all returning to the side.
And with former Man of Steel James Roby also back in the team and in fine form after missing the reverse fixture between the sides at Langtree Park earlier this season, when Hull prevailed 22-10, Gentle says he is expecting an intense battle tomorrow afternoon, kick-off 3pm.
"St Helens are a completely different team from when we last played, they have a new coach and they've been in good form, last weekend aside," he said.
"Our win against them earlier this year will count for nothing as both teams have moved on since then, but we know what they are capable of with the talent they have at their disposal and we will have to improve dramatically.
"I thought we were good defensively against London a few weeks ago, but we were soft last week against Hull KR and we need to fix that up."
Hull FC squad: Aspinwall, Briscoe, Crooks, Horne, Houghton, Lynch, Manu, Moa, Nicklas, O'Carroll, Pitts, Russell, Sharp, Seymour, Tickle, Turner, Westerman, Whiting, Yeaman
St Helens squad: Wellens, Shenton, Soliola, Hohaia, Lomax, Perry, Roby, McCarthy-Scarsbrook, Puletua, Wilkin, Flannery, Flanagan, Clough, Dixon, Gaskell, Makinson, Forster, Jones, Swift.
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