Super League: Hull FC v Castleford Tigers preview
Last Updated: 24/07/14 9:37am
Castleford Tigers will aim to keep pace with Super League’s leading pack when they travel to the KC Stadium to face Hull FC on Thursday evening.
Daryl Powell’s Tigers are unbeaten in their last four outings, leaving them just three points adrift of leaders St Helens in fourth place.
Castelford kept up with the five-team leading pack after securing a late 24-24 draw against West Yorkshire rivals Leeds Rhinos in a night of high drama at Headingley.
In a pulsating affair tensions boiled over as the game reached a climax with Rhinos and England captain Kevin Sinfield sent off for head-butting, before Grant Millington punished the hosts by touching down an equalising try to ensure spoils were shared.
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Contrastingly, Hull enter Round 22 of the competition winless in their last five matches and on the back of three successive defeats in the month of July.
Defending champions Wigan Warriors handed Lee Radford’s troops a stern less at the DW Stadium last time out, running in 10 tries in a 56-10 victory.
However, loose forward Liam Watts is determined to see a turnaround when the Tigers come to town.
“We’ve got a huge game now against Castleford, for no other reason than we owe everyone a performance,” he told the club’s official website. “The coaches, the fans, the club and even ourselves.
“We have to turn up and we’ll be straight back in tomorrow to get focused on that, we have to turn it around.”
The 12th-placed Airlie Birds have won three of their past five meetings with the Tigers, although Castleford will be bidding for a hat-trick on Thursday having won the last two matches between the pair.
Radford has opted for just the one change to his 19-man squad, with captain Gareth Ellis making an eagerly-anticipated return.
Ellis has missed the previous two fixtures for the Black and Whites with a back injury which he suffered in last month’s trip to Wakefield Wildcats, despite playing a week later against Warrington.
There are also welcome fitness boosts for Setaimata Sa, Kirk Yeaman and Richard Horne after they were pulled from the team that faced the Warriors after failing late fitness tests.
Powell has made three changes to the side which held Leeds in that titanic encounter at Headingley, with Jake Webster, Justin Carney and Craig Huby all dropping out.
Forward Garreth Carvell is included in the Tigers 19-man squad in the same week he was released from the remainder of his Hull FC contract.
James Clare and Ashley Gibson are also called into the travelling party, while hooker Daryl Clark retains his place despite picking up an ankle injury late on against Leeds.
Meanwhile, veteran front-rower Andy Lynch is relishing a return to the KC Stadium, where he made 53 appearances in the black and white of Hull.
“It is a massive game for us,” the Castleford forward told the Yorkshire Evening Post.
“We need to get back to winning ways and I think Hull will be the same. They haven’t been in the best form lately, but it is the first time they have been back at home for a while.”
Hull FC: Abdull, Bowden, Cunningham, Ellis, Green, Hadley, Houghton, Lineham, Paea, Paleaaesina, Rankin, Sa, Shaul, Talanoa, Thompson, Watts, Westerman, Whiting, Yeaman
Castleford Tigers: Dixon, Shenton, Dorn, Sneyd, Lynch, Milner, Millington, Hauraki, Massey, Clark, Holmes, Mariano, Wheeldon, Ellis, Gibson, Clare, Finn, Jewitt, Carvell
You can see Hull FC v Castleford Tigers live on Sky Sports 3HD from 7:30pm